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

EDITORIAL: Truth has to lead politicians online

The public deserves accountability and professionalism from its politicians

Discontent City argues that it’s keeping occupants safe

Hearing continuing today, July 18, at B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

Island fire chief urges residents to respect fire ban

Prohibition on recreational fires went into effect today at noon

UPDATED: Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Drought alert posted for Koksilah and Chemainus Rivers

Around the Cowichan region hot, dry weather is drying up tributary streams as well

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Police respond after dog left in vehicle at the movies

West Shore RCMP determined the animal was not in distress

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Most Read