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Lollapalooza band’s stolen gear bought at a flea market for $1,000

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Updated: October 19, 2011 4:17AM

An Oregon-based band that performed at Lollapalooza — only to have $80,000 in gear stolen from its traveling van after the show — said it plans to send “a pile of doughnuts over” to Chicago Police after they cracked the case and found the gear.

“Thank you Chicago PD and don’t be offended when we send a pile of doughnuts over,” the band called Portugal. The Man said on its Facebook page.

“We are understanding in its simplicity. Its like a marathon runner eating a stack of pancakes before the run. It is much needed energy in your long days of crime solving.”

Police charged a South Side mechanic with theft for allegedly purchasing the stolen equipment. He is not accused of stealing the van, but instead purchasing the gear from a flea market.

Juan Ocampo knew that the $80,000 in instruments and sound gear was stolen when he agreed to purchase it for $1,000 at a Swap-O-Rama at 40th and Ashland, assistant Cook County state’s attorney Erin Antonietti said at his bond hearing Tuesday.

The equipment had been taken from the stolen van and trailer that belonged to the Portugal. The Man, which hails from Portland, Ore.

Ocampo, 39, told authorities he was “scared” to sell the equipment himself but planned to sell it off a little bit at a time, Antonietti said.

The father of two, who appeared in court in a navy blue mechanic uniform, also allegedly told investigators he was scared to sleep in his own apartment while the stolen goods were there.

So he opted to sleep at his girlfriend’s house, according to a police report.

Ocampo said a man he didn’t know by name sold him a guitar, drum and keyboard and indicated he “had more of the same,” the report said.

The man brought the equipment to Ocampo’s apartment. Ocampo paid him $500 on the spot and agreed to pay him the additional $500 after he sold some of the instruments, the report said.

On Aug. 8 — a day after Portugal. The Man performed at Lollapalooza, the group reported on its Facebook and Twitter pages that its two vehicles, as well as all the gear inside, had been stolen from a garage at the popular three-day music fest.

The van and trailer were recovered a day later but were empty.

The stolen items, according to a list on the band’s Twitter site, included: nine guitars, drums and cymbals, two Roland keyboards, a Hammond organ, a Moog synthesizer, a 160GB iPod, various microphones, speakers and amps.

Judge Ramon Ocasio III ordered Ocampo, of the 4800 block of South Throop, held on $10,000 bail Tuesday.

Portugal. The Man is scheduled to return to Chicago on Oct. 15 for a show at the Metro.

The band posted a lengthy “thank you” note on its Facebook page Tuesday, thanking police and social media.

Here’s more from the band’s statement, written by band front man John Gourley:

“Laying in bed at 9:30pm Friday night, fittingly depressed over the theft of our gear, I received a phone call from our tour manager ‘The Chicago PD found our gear! Its not all there but it sounds like most of it is!’ Good news right? A win for the band in a situation that seemingly happens monthly in the van and trailer touring world and so rarely followed by good news and equipment being returned. Well, it is good news and it is more than just a win for PTM, it is also a win for twitter, the world of social media, the Chicago police, and old school journalism. We had taken notice of this as soon as the first tweets started rolling, as the blogs were posted and the news story aired. It’s the sort of thing that brings you close to tears (in the manliest way, of course). Tears not because we had a chance of getting our things back because, after all, they are just things but because this was people banding together over a cause. People banding together because “I was robbed before and f--- that”. I’m sure we all know how it feels, and even surer still because of this response. It is violating, it is unfair, it is wrong. As much as I found humor in the fact that it took a robbery to make us a trending topic on twitter I knew it was more than the band, it wasn’t about ‘us’ at the end of the day, it was about all of us. This is a serious win for everyone that has been violated in some way. I have said this before and it will not sound any less cliche’ saying it now: We can do anything when we work together. Yeah, we may not get all of our things back, most certainly guitars were sent off maybe the personal things have already been distributed, little things are harder to track and easily lost in the mix but really, who cares? They are just things. The most important thing to remember is that we did this together.

“Thank you Chicago PD and don’t be offended when we send a pile of doughnuts over. We are understanding in its simplicity. Its like a marathon runner eating a stack of pancakes before the run. It is much needed energy in your long days of crime solving and we appreciate this because, well, doughnuts are delicious.... All respect.”

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