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Vancouver Island musician hopes for return of beloved stolen guitar

Guitar and sound equipment stolen from home music studio in Nanaimo’s south end
A Nanaimo musician hopes for the return of his beloved Fender Squier Stratocaster guitar that was stolen from his home music studio on the weekend. (Photo submitted)

A Nanaimo musician hopes the public and RCMP can help find stolen sound equipment and a beloved guitar.

The items were stolen during a break-in of his property near the corner of Victoria Road and Needham Street on Saturday, March 19, at 6:10 a.m.

Collen Middleton said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin that surveillance video footage showed the thief spend about eight minutes using a crowbar to break locks off of a door of a garage that is used as a music studio.

The equipment was heavy, so Middleton said the culprit likely had a truck parked out of the camera’s field of view to haul away the gear. He described the suspect as a man about six feet tall wearing a dark-coloured or black leather jacket and a light-coloured hoodie and blue jeans.

Items taken included professional sound equipment and a portable generator, but the biggest personal loss was Middleton’s 1990s, Korean-made, Fender Squier Stratocaster, which the musician said is irreplaceable.

“The branding on the head stock has been shaved off,” Middleton said. “The guitar is distinctive due to the stickers, paint job – originally black with a mountain scene painted on it in acrylic, then covered with stickers.”

The guitar was also modified. The original bridge pickup has been replaced with black Seymour Duncan dual-coil hum bucking pickup and the internal electronic components were upgraded to achieve the tonal characteristics of a guitar used by rock band Green Day’s lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong. Middleton said in 2019 he used the guitar for a year-long tribute to Green Day and raised awareness and money for women and children’s shelters and men’s addiction recovery. He and his bandmates raised more than $12,000 for those causes through a series of concerts called the Raw Punk Green Day Tribute Project.

He said the stolen equipment is insured against theft, but the guitar symbolizes for him how music transcends and erases societal divides and he needs the guitar in his hands to do more work on that in the future.

“This has enormous sentimental value to me,” Middleton said. “I got it in California in 1994 and was my first guitar I learned to play on at age 11. Of everything that was stolen, this is the one item I so badly want to see again.”

Anyone with information about the guitar and the other stolen items is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2022-9303.

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