Stolen 54-40 guitars recovered in Surrey

Five of seven vintage guitars worth about $50,000 along with electronic equipment belonging to rock band 54-40 — whose members live in Victoria, Esquimalt, Salt Spring and Vancouver — have been found after a search of a property in Surrey.

The instruments were stolen between midnight Thursday and 9:30 a.m. on Friday amid preparations for shows at the Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, said the band’s publicist, Eric Alper.

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Alper said the instruments are irreplaceable and hold great value to band members beyond their monetary worth.

New Westminster police found five of the seven guitars on Sunday after executing a search warrant.

The instruments had been in a U-Haul cube van parked in front of Queens Park Care Centre at 315 McBride Blvd. in New Westminster, said Alper.

“The investigation is ongoing, and [New Westminster police] officers continue to work toward identifying and arresting a suspect,” said spokesman Sgt. Jeff Scott.

“This was a significant theft and we are hopeful that we will be able to recover the other two guitars,” he said. “We will continue to follow up with any leads as they come in.”

Still missing is:

• A Gibson SJ200 acoustic guitar serial #877023 with aftermarket Fishman sound hole pickup. Finish checking. Poly acoustic case.

• A Gibson Dove acoustic guitar with aftermarket LR Baggs sound hole pickup. Poly acoustic case.

Formed in 1981 in Vancouver by lead singer Neil Osborne, 54-40, which produced its 14th album this year, has had three platinum-selling albums and a Canadian gold-selling album and has twice been inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.

Their rock-punk-folk-pop hits include: Baby Ran, She La, One Gun, Ocean Pearl, Love You All, I Go Blind, One Day In Your Life, Radio Luv Song, Miss You, Nice to Luv You and Lies to Me.

Osborne lives in Victoria, bass guitarist Brad Merritt lives in Esquimalt, Dave Genn lives in Vancouver, and drummer Matt Johnson lives on Salt Spring.

The guitars that were recovered:

• 1957 Fender Esquire electric guitar, serial #20378. Blonde, some wear and finish checking. Back slightly stained with red dye. Weathered road case.

• 1974 Fender Jazz Bass, serial #646897. Black w. white pick guard, maple neck. Black gator case.

• 1966 Fender Stratocaster, serial #119921. Sunburst, heavy wear. Re-issue tuners and bridge. Straps locks Installed. Routing under pick guard.

• 1966 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard. #823870. Cherry, heavy wear. Replaced fretboard and tuners. Strap locks installed. Non-original Bigsby vibrato, previously drilled for a stop tailpiece.

• 1954 Gibson Florentine Electric Mandolin. #2221. Very rare double cut-away, solid body.

On Saturday the band offered a $5,000 reward for the return of the instruments.

Anyone with information is asked to call the New Westminster police at 604-525-5411 citing file number 18-19100.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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