UTICA — Last October, Jared Anderson and his band came to Michigan with a van, trailer and $70,000 of musical equipment to promote their newest CD. They returned to Colorado with a stripped but drivable van recovered from Detroit.
On Oct. 19, the Christian worship band woke up at La Quinta Hotel in Utica to discover shards of glass where their van and trailer had been parked the night before, following a show they played at a church in Warren.
The next day, Detroit police recovered the van, but most of the musical equipment evaded Utica police until a few weeks ago. The trailer is still missing.
“I figured (the equipment) would have hit the black market somehow, whether it would have stayed local or gone out of state. It’s tough to find that type of merchandise and get it back,” said Utica police chief David Faber.
Faber said Detective Gregory Morabito accomplished the feat through due diligence and that the department also received substantial help from Anderson.
Anderson said he was ecstatic to learn that the equipment had been found and was still in great condition — even his guitar was still in tune. The theft caused them to cancel some shows and substantially slow down as a band, he said.
Police initially closed the case due to a lack of leads, but Anderson’s wife discovered his rare Yamaha upright digital piano and its case on a Craigslist.com listing in November, about a month after the incident.
Anderson said he called the seller, who told him he had sold it and hung up. The man took the post down and wouldn’t answer Anderson’s calls. When police obtained a warrant and tracked down the phone number, they discovered that it was a prepaid phone in no one’s name.
“I think that caused (the seller) not to move on any of the other items,” Anderson said.
Police again closed the case, and Anderson said he didn’t hear anything until the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office recovered some of his property from a house in Detroit on Feb. 12.
“They found my merch trunk, backdrops and some of my clothes,” Anderson said. “I thought, ‘Awesome. At least I got a few things back; that’s cool.’”
Police again closed the case due to a lack of leads, until Detective Morabito received a notification from Crime Stoppers on March 25 that a man was hiding the musical equipment in a garage at another location in Detroit.
According to the police report, Morabito and a Secret Service agent began surveillance on the garage at 9 a.m. March 25. At noon, they observed some commotion in front of the home and noticed police cars arrive.
They made contact with officers from the Michigan State Police auto theft squad and learned that they had recovered several stolen vehicles on the street.
After the MSP spoke to the man in question, Morabito and the agent asked him if he knew of the musical equipment. He originally denied having any knowledge of the equipment and agreed to let them look in his garage. As they walked toward the garage, he reportedly admitted that the equipment was inside.
The man pulled a large painting tarp away and uncovered multiple cases and trunks, both large and small, which held around $70,000 in musical instruments. Morabito confirmed that the instruments matched items listed on the police report and sent Anderson a photo of the equipment via his smartphone. Anderson identified the pictured items as the stolen equipment.
Police confiscated the equipment, and Anderson said his bass player flew to Michigan to pick it up and drove it back to Colorado Springs in a U-Haul truck.
“The only thing missing is the trailer, my Hammond organ and Leslie speaker, which combined is about $2,000, and then a couple drum phones which are like $300, but we got everything else,” Anderson said.
He said police arrested the man April 28 on a charge of possessing stolen property more than $20,000 and that he plans to prosecute.
“I’m not a person to press charges. It’s not something I ever saw myself doing, but if one of my kids got into crime, I think as much as I love my kid, he has to pay the consequence all the way,” Anderson said.
Faber said police are still in the process of investigating who stole the equipment from Utica and that they will continue to work on it.
Anderson’s record label, Integrity Music, created a Fundly donation page, which raised about $11,000. He said the band also used borrowed equipment to play fundraiser shows. In all, they raised about $25,000.
The band used the money to replace some of their equipment, but found a church interested in buying the new duplicates. Anderson said he also sent a letter to all Fundly account donors in which he said they would send back the donors’ money if they wished, but hoped they would allow the band to pay it forward.
“We still need to buy a new trailer and a couple instruments. Plus, there’s the cost of getting our gear back to Colorado,” he said. “No one has asked for their money back.”
The band will head to Nashville May 18 to make another record.
“We’ll definitely be back to Detroit, no question, because we’re connected now,” Anderson said.
For more information about Jared Anderson, visit www.jaredanderson.com.