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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond, left, and SOS executive director Susanna Newton right are prepared for a reinvented Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive in 2020. COVID-19 will not spoil the community’s annual day of giving and help for local families through the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. (Peter McCully photo)
Reinventing Parksville Qualicum Beach’s popular Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive

COVID-19 restrictions won’t spoil community’s annual morning of giving

Map of the location of the Telus cell tower that it plans to build in Qualicum Beach. (Town of Qualicum Beach Map)
Qualicum Beach council approves location of Telus communications tower

Plan is to improve cellphone service in the area

Jeff Frankford, president of the Rotary Club Qualicum Beach, and John Humphrey of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 show the site where the Field of Crosses will be placed Nov. 6 to Nov. 12. (Photo submitted)
Field of Crosses honouring soldiers to be erected in Qualicum Beach

Display a memorial to those who made the ultimate sacrifice

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a woman who allegedly threw hot coffee on a McDonald’s employee. (News Bulletin photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP still looking for woman who threw coffee at worker after already receiving refund

Police asking for information in investigation that could lead to assault charges

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read