Police are looking for thieves who disabled an alarm system, then smashed through the office wall of Arbutus Music in north Nanaimo to steal several rare vintage guitars on the weekend. (Facebook photo)

Thieves smash through wall to steal rare guitars in Nanaimo

Thieves steal guitars worth $50,000 after smashing through drywall to enter north-end music store

Richard Leighton, owner of Arbutus Music, is tallying up his company’s losses after rare vintage guitars were stolen during a break-in over the weekend.

Leighton said employees discovered the break-in while opening the store, on Metral Drive in north Nanaimo on Saturday morning.

They found culprits had broken into the building’s electrical room, disabled the alarm system and then smashed a hole through the store’s office wall.

Guitars taken included a 1959 cherry-red Gibson Les Paul, a blonde 1975 Fender Telecaster Custom, red 1962 National Westwood 77, a 1916 Martin and a red 1965 Fender Mustang and other guitars valued at roughly $50,000.

“I haven’t had chance to appraise them all yet,” Leighton said. “That’s going to be part of it with the insurance company.”

The rarity and unique designs of the guitars will make them diffult to re-sell.

“The ’62 National Westwood 77; there’s just one for sale on Reverb.com in North America right now, you know, you just don’t see them,” Leighton said. “I had some vinyl Hofner guitars from the ’50s that were covered in a Naugahyde fake vinyl, in like, fake crocodile skin. Like ugly as ugly, right? Where are you going to sell those?”

There is sentimental value to the instruments and one of Leighton’s favourites was the ‘59 Gibson Les Paul.

“That’s my desert island guitar,” he said. “If out of all my guitars, I was only allowed to keep one, that’s probably it.”

But Leighton said it’s unlikely the culprits knew he had those particular guitars in the store. If they knew what they were looking for, he has much more expensive guitars in his collection, they most likely just grabbed whatever they came across, including a credit card they used to make purchases in Walmart.

“There’s footage of them using the card at Walmart and some restaurants and bank machines trying to get cash withdrawals,” he said.

Arbutus Music was the victim of a theft in 2014 when a rare 1952 Fender Stratocaster was among the instruments taken. That theft drew broad attention from the music community, including Elton John, who shared news of the loss on social media.

Leighton said he he feels bad over his loss, but often feels worse when he hears of thefts from working musicians, often struggling and who can’t afford insurance or to replace their instruments, or people who lose irreplaceable family heirlooms.

“For us in the commercial world, it’s a common occurrence unfortunately,” Leighton said. “My buddy Joe Keller just got his jewelry store broken into in Lantzville and another one just got hit downtown. The poor cops are just run off their feet here,” he said.

Leighton hopes the guitars stolen will be covered under his store’s insurance and said the alarm system has been repaired and upgraded to prevent this type of break-in from happening again.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman said investigators are following up by reviewing security footage of attempts to use the stolen credit and other evidence.

“We’re hoping if somebody hears something they’ll call us,” O’Brien said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text 274637, keyword Nanaimo or submit a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Police executed a search warrant at a residence on Nicol Street in September 2017 in relation to a murder investigation. John Albert Buchanan was charged with second-degree murder. (News Bulletin file)
Murder trial begins in case of man who was beaten and died in Nanaimo’s south end

John Albert Buchanan charged with second-degree murder after 2017 incident on Nicol Street

RCMP
Police appeal to ‘sense of right and wrong’ in fatal Campbell River assault

RCMP know of witnesses to Oct. 15 attack; want them to come forward

B.C. Ferries has a mandatory mask policy on vessels and at terminals. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: No tickets for anti-maskers on B.C. Ferries

West Van Police say their intention was to ‘keep the peace’ after being called to terminal

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020. (B.C. NDP photo)
Horgan fishes with Cowichan elders at Cowichan Valley campaign stop

B.C. premier talks mental health and addictions, universal income

A jail cell at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman reports she was injured by Nanaimo RCMP while being jailed

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking into Oct. 1 incident

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

Passengers seated in rows five to 11 on WestJet flight 195 on Oct. 10 may have been exposed to COVID-19. (Black Press File Photo)
UPDATE: COVID-19 exposure reported on WestJet flights two days in a row

The BCCDC is cautioning people who flew from Calgary to Victoria Oct. 19 and 11

Most Read