For artist Peter Chiykowski, the moment when he realized $1,000 in cash had been stolen from his booth at Montreal Comiccon was like a punch to the gut.
Chiykowski is the creator of a free web comic, Rock, Paper, Cynic, and sells prints, T-shirts and merchandise to keep the project afloat.
But on Saturday, he was momentarily distracted by someone posing as a customer while another person slipped around and nabbed the money bag.
"I've been doing conventions since 2011, and I've never had something stolen," he told CBC. "We tore the booth apart, we searched top to bottom for 30 or 40 minutes.... That was a really hard hit to take."
Despite the loss, Chiykowski's story has a happy ending.
After hearing what happened, a friend of his created a fundraising campaign online that managed to raise more than he had originally lost.
"I was stunned," he said. "I would have been embarrassed to ask for help. The fact that the community rallied in a way where I didn't even have to really just floored me."
Chiykowski wasn't the only merchant hit by theft during Montreal Comiccon, which took place over three days at the Palais des congrès.
Event spokesperson Leeja Murphy told CBC that of the 650 vendors in attendance, six have come forward saying they were robbed.
She said organizers are gathering as much information as they can, and they share the theory that these thefts were committed by more than one person working in tandem.
They're asking anyone with knowledge of what happened to come forward.