How the power of friends and Facebook helped recover our stolen equipment

How a great gig turned sour

On Saturday past, like many Saturdays, we were out working at a wedding. Unlike many weddings, last Saturday’s went swimmingly to plan.  We played a full set, had everyone enjoying themselves and finished with a bang. Then we packed up for the night.

With a bit of time to spare, we thought we’d finish the night off by taking advantage of last orders at The Balmoral Hotel, in Belfast.   Our good fortune continued when we discovered that there was a really good musician playing in a lounge. One who could actually play. A rare vision in this particular venue. We settled down and enjoyed some lovely cold pints after a hard few hours work.

When we returned to the van (designated driver controlling the keys), our good mood came crashing down with the realisation that someone had broken into it. Collectively, our hearts stopped as we began to check around in disbelief. To our shock we discovered that a small number of items had been stolen. However those items where the most valuable and personal to us. Our guitars.

Only fellow musicians and those close to them will understand how a guitarist can build an attachment, almost a love, with his guitar. Having owned and played these guitars for many, many years, both were now gone – leaving a sickening feeling in the pit of our stomach. They had been callously stolen by some low-life thief.  A thief who couldn’t possibly comprehend that the personal value of what he was stealing far outweighed the few pounds he might get by selling them.

Rally the Troops

We began our campaign to limit the damage. Our hope was to have the equipment returned. Our objective was to make them unsaleable.  We informed the police who began their investigations. We spoke with the hotel and gained access to CCTV.  We informed the city centre shops where stolen items might be brought for sale.

Then we reached out to the people we knew would care about our predicament. We reached out to our fellow musicians, our friends and our extended families. We reached out using what has become the most efficient means of reaching out – Facebook.

Our musician friends, the couples who we have worked for, the couples who follow us online, our personal friends and families all rallied and spread the word across Facebook by sharing, liking and reposting our call for help. The response was phenomenal. There were messages of support. There were messages from people who said they would scan Gumtree and other buy-and-sell sites for us. The were offers of loan equipment. The support from our circle of friends and their circles was humbling.

There’s no better advertising than…

They say there’s nothing like word of mouth. After four days of spreading the word, our efforts paid off. The police rang to say that they had two guitars matching the description of ours. We rushed out to see them and, yes indeed, they were ours!! They have been reunited with their happy owners, restrung and given a good polish as a special treat. We didn’t get everything back and this has meant us replacing items at considerable cost. However, the return of the guitars was always our main hope.

Thank you all, sincerely

We have no idea how or why the guitars came to be recovered by the police. We can only assume that the people who helped share our plea played a crucial role in bringing about their return.

We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who played a part. To all of the people we know, and the many we don’t know, who shared our plea on Facebook, we thank you. In particular, thanks to Simon Walsh (who musical history will record as the fourth Usual Suspect), John Rafferty, Jim “The King” Brown and Cubb McCullough for sharing our plea with your friends. Our post was viewed by over 3,000 people. We couldn’t have done that without all of you. Your support is so very much appreciated.

Onwards and upwards

So now all that is left to do is to get back on the band wagon and get back to keeping those brides and grooms rockin and a rollin!

Thanks again,
John, Connor & Seamus – The Usual Suspects