Most of my friends tell me I was lucky... it wasn't luck but simple deduction. Here's the story:
This guitar is one of my most prized possessions. It is a 1978 Fender Stratocaster. I call it Frankenstrat. ( high res pic open and zoom in for a freakout )
Now most guitarist might tell you that a guitar is more than just an instrument. This one is bears a history of 30 years. It has paid for itself several times over in one rock club band or another and even paid for my tution in college so if the house caught fire this would be one of the things I'd take out with me. It is irreplaceable.
I retired it a long time ago and a Thinline Telecaster became my guitar of choice. But over the years I modified it to where it no longer resembles the original guitar. Other than the body the only original piece of equipment is the black pickup in the neck position. I replaced the others with a DiMarzio in the bridge position for an ear piercing sound and a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder in the middle position for a nice defined mid-tone sound. I actually got the courage ot rout out the body to drop a Kahler cam whammy in it so it would mount flush and then yanked the tone pots out and wired all pickups directly to the volume knob. Put and locking system on the upper neck. To get it in tune you just whammy the hell out of it. The worse you treat it the better it stays in tune.
So I have friend I've been in bands with for years and simply my music bud with a studio in Moore, OK and I left the guitar over there so I'd have something familar to play when I was in town. It was there for years. Around February of this year his house was burglarized and the guy took of with this guitar, a small mini strat, his guns, a mic, a camera and all the change on his table ad some credit cards. My friend came home from work and must have scared the guy off because a couple of other guitars were leaned up against the outside wall of the house waiting for pickup.
My friend called immediately and the police were over there. Next day I went into the city to get the scoop. I wasn't mad but felt bad that my friend felt so bad about that guitar getting stolen. The first thing that was appaent was that whoever did this was an idiot. He took about $20 of change from a can and all that other stuff but immediately within range was an $8000 custome built laptop for digital recording and two large flat screens and near-field monitors at $1500 bucks a pop. I figured whoever did this lived nearby and carried the stuff out of the house down the drain canal behind his house. I figured it was a crackhead or just my punks. Not only that the dumbass came back a couple of days later and burgled the house again. This time my friend was awaken and was sitting in his bed with a .357 pointed into the hallway. The guy saw him in the mirror and bolted. He was one step away from being splattered on the wall.
But I told him I was going to find that guitar and if I find the person before the cops he was going to wish the cops had got to him before I did. My friend figured the stuff to be long gone and it would just be a wassted effort. I had already dug throw my music stuff and found the original tag with the serial number on it. So that weekend I printed off a map of Moore-Norman and S. OKC.
Now OKC is flat and the streets are grids. So I went to every pawn shop in Moore and I learned that unless I had the serial number and a picture it was going to be hard to describe the guitar. Went ount on the web and got pics of every piece of equipment on that thing and made the flyer you see sitting by the guitar describing every nick, faded finish areas and cigarette stain on it. Printed 25 copies with contact info. So the next weekend I called the drummer that had played with us over the years because he was recovering from a crack addiction and had been on the streets for a while. And we went looking.
Now it was only a couple of days after the burglary that someone using my firend's credit card account had tried to open an account at the Home Depot in south Moore. The police must have had an idea of who it was because the dumbass had given real info like their phone number. So the police go to the residenc on some kind of a DHS issue and find the credit cards and the guitar case. The idiot lived right down the street from my friend... at the end of the drainage canal ! He was not at home but his girlfriend told the police where he was and they went to the apartment and his dumbass buddy invited them in. They find the burglar and he had crack on him so his ass went to County.
Here we are two weeks later and the drummer and I are eating and I told him my search plan. I figured the burglar had an old beatup car that wouldn't get him too far or the gas money so he would have heading to a pawn shop outside of Moore but not too far. Having grown up in South OKC both of use knew where all the pawn shops were all the way up to the Northside. So I showed him my map and I had it divided north and south down Santa Fe Ave which divides OKC. Then I showed him I had planned to search west of there up to 89th street west. Next weekend it would be 89th east of Santa Fe, Then every weekend move the pattern up tp 59th street and keep doing this until I got to North 23rd before I would give up.
So the place we are eating is right off 74th street( I-240) and Walker( 1 mile west of SantaFe). so we head out and my friend says hey you know there are two pawn shops on Western that are on our way. We go to the first one which is large and I gave them a flyer, all took a look at it and hadn't seen it come through there. If I had a name they could search the database but at that time I hadn't gone to the OSCN website to research the court dockets. So we leave that Paw shop and head south about 8 blocks into a smaller pawn shop. I tell the guy the story and give him a flyer. He hadn't seen it. As we were starting to leave I noticed one of the guys that worked there was talking to the manager in hushed tones. I was about at the door when the guy yells wait... we have that guitar... I freaked out. They couldn't tell us who pawned it for confidentialty
but I called my friend in Moore and got info on the other stuff and the camera and mic were there too. so we called the OKC PD and they said they'd have someone out there. Waited two hours and no cops. SO I left the pawn shop guy my cell number and told him I'd be five minutes away. He called when the police arrived by the time we got there she had left. So it took two months to get the friggin OKC PD to do something. They said it was Moore PD jurisdiction though we were in OKC. Two friggin months to get them off their ass after I had done all the work for them. It took six months to get the guitar that finally ended up in OKC custody and we wouldn't have gotten that if I hadn't got fed up and on a whim was walking through a mall and went up to an OKC police captain soing some kind of a demostraton thing and asked him how the hell I can get someone to go down and get the stuff out of the pawn shop. He gave me a phone number and the lady there had the stuff in two days. To this date We still haven't gotten the guitar case back from the Moore PD and in fact have had to constantly contact them to make sure it doesn't get auctioned off.
I eventually searched the OSCN network and guessed about what day the burglar would have been to preliminary and found him. I know know his name, how old he is, how much he weighs, where he lives, what his SSN is, what his phone number is, his car make model and tag number and his prior arrest. He has a history of drug convictions and possesion of stolen goods. I also know where he's lived in the past and cronies he's been arrested with on more than one occasion. His mother used her house to bond him out. He skipped out of his trial. So now all of his former suspended sentences kick in, he's charged with 2 counts 2nd degree burglary. He is 42 and it amounts to the rest of his life in prison.
Never say never. Can't never could; won;t never would.