Wednesday, May 24, 2023

What An Unbelievable Week! Guitars Stolen AND Returned in 7 Days!!

What an unbelievable week indeed! Between Saturday, May 13th and Saturday May 20th, I had my guitars stolen, I had a facebook post about the incident go viral, along with an outpouring of support from the Kingston community and people across Canada, and the guitars were returned to me! Nothing short of amazing!! 🤯

This all started on Saturday, May 13th. I had my gear loaded for a show at Sam's Place out in Prince Edward County, and stopped at the K&P trail(Kingston area) for a walk. A rural part of the trail surrounded by farmland, I might add. I think this is an important detail as some folks on social media assumed I was in the city limits, and more specifically, parked near a homeless encampment...

When I returned to the van it had been broken into(they ripped the passenger side door handle off) and they stole my signature Gibson Nighthawk guitar and an Epiphone Wildkat that Richard Piche (bassist for Dead Root Revival) had just modified with two 1967 Dearmond gold foil pickups. It was a gut punch for sure. I immediately raced home and put up a post on social media with a desperate plea for help in finding the guitars. Facebook responded in kind! In less than two hours, my post was shared over 1000 times, ultimately reaching 7800 shares over the course of the week, and offers of gear and messages of support flowed in. It was a truly heartwarming and overwhelming experience. ❤️

Then on Saturday, May 20th at 10:30 AM, almost exactly the same time of day they were taken from me a week before, my guitars were returned.

Naturally, there has been quite a lot of curiosity out there, as to how the whole thing went down. How did I get my guitars back?

First off, I’ll say that this wouldn’t have happened without the social media reaction and the almost 8000 shares my original post received on Facebook alone. That really put the pressure on the thief or thieves.

I always had a good feeling that I would get my guitars back someday because of the unique nature of the models I have. No one plays a Nighthawk really and definitely nobody has an Epiphone Wildkat with gold foil pickups. However, I thought it would take a long time.

But when I woke up on Friday morning, there was a message on my phone from a friend of mine saying he had a lead on the guitars…and he sent pics! I was shocked! The thief probably had reached out to someone in hopes of moving the gear….and the pics had been passed on down the line. But it had become abundantly clear that nobody was going to touch these guitars! They had become some of the most recognizable instruments in the country in a matter of days(hours even!), so the thief switched gears and decided to add to their criminal repertoire by attempting extortion.

They delivered a message to me through back channels that I was to pay a ransom of $1500 if I wanted my guitars back.

I offered an alternative. Deliver my guitars, and do the right thing, or face a not-insignificant amount of jail time for theft over $5000. Through my friend the message was delivered and a deadline was set for a response by Friday afternoon.

Not long after this occurred on Friday morning, another friend, from the Kingston Police force, contacted me. He saw that I’d filed a report and offered assistance. He also works as tour manager for 54-40, who had been a victim of Guitarjackers a few years back( 7 guitars stolen, 6 returned).

I told him about the developments in the case and that I was waiting to see if the situation could be resolved without police involvement.

By 2 PM on Friday afternoon, there had been no communication from the Guitarjackers, so I asked him to intervene. He dispatched two constables to knock on doors and start following the trail. The next morning I checked in with him and he assured me the officers were working the case, were 3 or 4 links down the chain towards finding my guitars, and it was only a matter of time. Not even an hour after that, my friend (with connections to the other side of the law 😄 ) called me saying he had picked up the guitars. Unbelievable!!

The three factors in getting this resolved:

1. Social media - this put such intense pressure on the thief and gave them nowhere to move these instruments.

2. People wanting to do the right thing. Even those who deal in stolen goods wouldn't touch these guitars. The heat was a factor for sure, but from what I understand of the situation, there was considerable pressure applied from those on the street to convince the thief to part with my guitars.

3. The police pressure. It was made known to the thieving party that the police were closing in and it would only be a matter of time before they were arrested.

Some of you will be disappointed that were no arrests. I’m just happy to have my instruments back, but I do hope that the thief will think twice next time, because they definitely got more than they bargained for when they broke into my van.

Thanks again to everyone who shared my posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You collectively played a big part in bringing my guitars home!

If you want to see these guitars in action come see a Dead Root Revival show. They've got extra MOJO now!!

Catch DRR at the Rainbow in Ottawa on Saturday, June 3rd - Tickets
or in Kingston at the RCHA on Saturday, June 10th - Tickets

Rock and Roll!

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