NCBS Stolen & Missing Instrument Information Page

This is the Northern California Bluegrass Society's national infomation page for stolen and missing musical instruments. This page can be used to announce the theft or other loss of musical instruments, updates on subsequent investigations, and news about the recovery of instruments. The forum is HTML-enabled, so that links may be added to other websites that contain pictures and other detailed information about the instruments. The NCBS does not warrant the accuracy of any information posted. Contact the source for details. Good luck to all!

NCBS Stolen & Missing Instrument Information Page
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Re: Martin D-18 Guitar -- 1937 (Stolen in AZ) -- RECOVERED with details

Many have asked to hear the story: "Return of the D-18".
First, obviously I am totally ecstatic, relieved, and most of all grateful to my friends and family for all the help in getting it back. Prayers have been answered. Whoever had it took good care of it and didn't throw away the original case or its contents. I had many nightmares about its being mistreated, water damaged, warped from being in a hot car trunk, refinished or over-sprayed, or the serial number defaced, etc. but it looks just like it did when it was taken 11 weeks ago today. Losing it was a life-changing, lesson-learning experience. I can now write a book on losing and recovering a stolen musical instrument. I think I did all that could possibly be done, but I couldn't have done it without the support of such great friends.

Here is what I know about how it came back to me:

I got a call from a local attorney this past Tuesday evening, May 19. He asked if I was the Peter McLaughlin who was missing a Martin D-18 guitar. I responded "yes", and he then told that he could probably have my guitar back in my possession a day or two. At first I thought it might be a scam attempt, but the name and phone number checked out on the internet-- listed as a licensed attorney and on the AZ Bar. Thinking this could be for real, I felt a sense of relief in realizing that my guitar might actually still be in Tucson and may even be on its way home to me.

Then our brief conversation turned to reward I was offering. I assumed whoever had it and hired the attorney had seen the KGUN 9 TV broadcast that aired last Sunday night, May 17. He said to wait for his call. I waited patiently until yesterday (Thursday) when I finally heard back from him that the deal could happen within a few hours. We met up late yesterday afternoon to make the transaction. I showed up with a cashier's check for $3,000, which is the amount I had specified in the KGUN 9 story, and about as the max I could come up with. This is also the amount I estimated the guitar could fetch on the black market and they probably realized it would be very difficult to sell for any more than that, since it was too hot and listed on all the stolen instrument/guitar registries (next on my list is to contact those). I believe that KGUN's story and that this reward was specified on the air is what likely got the attention of those who had the guitar. Once I got there I looked the guitar over carefully and it was just as fine as it was before it was stolen, other than being totally out of tune--they were obviously not musicians. It felt strange to pay a ransom for it but it was well worth it to me and I hope I am not playing a significant role in encouraging more instrument theft (I know the US doesn't typically pay terrorists for the release of hostages out of concerns for more kidnappings). I weighed all that in my mind, but it came down to just wanting the guitar back for the sake of my health, alleviating the anxiety and lack of sleep I've been experiencing. I could have gotten TPD involved and they have been very much on my side in offering their services, but I just didn't want to risk scaring off the person or people who had the guitar (and I don't even know if it's the same one(s) who took it or if it had changed hands), and possibly never seeing the guitar, having it damaged, or worrying about looking over my shoulder for some time to come.

Anyway, it was the deal I had made public on KGUN, I stuck with it, and I am relieved and happy with the outcome, and grateful to so many for all the help and support here in Tucson and around the world. I have learned a ton from this whole experience and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world today. I slept better than I had in 2-1/2 months, other than waking up once about 3:00 a.m. and wondering for a brief moment if being reunited with my guitar had just been a dream. But then I noticed that it was right next to me in bed! I slept well the rest of the night.

Huge thanks again to all of you for your help and concerns and for keeping a watch out for it out throughout this ordeal. I am eternally grateful.