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Facebook page helps musicians recover stolen equipment

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Updated: August 24, 2014 6:11AM



Chris Kneale nearly vomited when he saw a pile of broken glass on the Wicker Park street where his van had been parked.

It contained all the equipment his Brooklyn-based band, Go Deep, had brought to town for a gig in late May, including gear he purchased with money he saved by renting his bedroom to a boarder and crashing on the couch.

“Imagine standing on the side of the street and literally everything that you own was taken,” said Kneale, who’s working on getting the band back on its feet. “I had to go and buy a sweater from Target because it was cold out that night.”

Kneale’s story is not unusual — a fact that Chicagoan Tracy Kreuser wants to change.

“It’s almost embarrassing that this happens,” said Kreuser, 29, who in early June created a page of Facebook titled Find Stolen Music Gear — Chicago.

She hopes the site will function as a central location for music industry folks to post pictures and information about stolen gear.

“Our goal is to alert people who are in the music scene, so the message will go viral among people who are likely to come into contact with gear,” said Kreuser, who books bands for several Chicago bars.

“My heart breaks for these bands because 99.9 percent of them aren’t living off their music. Every penny they earn goes back into the band,” Kreuser said. Most incidents draw limited media attention, if any at all.

But several have been high profile.

Zakk Wylde, who used to play with rocker Ozzy Osbourne, had his guitar stolen in March when a thief walked into his unlocked tour bus parked near the Chicago Theatre. It turned up weeks later at a pawn shop.

In 2011, $100,000 worth of gear was stolen in the South Loop from a van and trailer belonging to Portugal. The Man, a band out of Portland.

Most of the band’s items have been recovered, but bassist Zach Carothers said he still scans eBay and Craigslist every day for two of his guitars that are still missing.

“I fully support this new Facebook page. I think it’s awesome,” Carothers said.

“There’s two or three guys I really dislike in Chicago; everyone else is OK with me,” said Carothers, who added that fans have since offered to guard their equipment overnight while in town.

“Honestly, you hear more about it from Chicago,” Carothers said. “I just think there’s a crew of guys who have it figured out more than most other places.”

Because the parking lot where their equipment was stolen had an overnight attendant, Carothers broke what for many bands is a cardinal rule of protecting gear: Someone always sleeps in the van.

But investigators with the Chicago police see no increases or patterns in cases of stolen music gear.

“These seem to be crimes of opportunity,” said Sgt. Neal McCloughlin, a property crimes detective with the Chicago Police Department.

Email: mdudek@suntimes.com

Twitter: @mitchdudek



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