SHOW GOES ON: Sydney band Lepers & Crooks rejoice after the return of musical equipment which had been stolen after a performance in Bellingen.
SHOW GOES ON: Sydney band Lepers & Crooks rejoice after the return of musical equipment which had been stolen after a performance in Bellingen.

Band mates catch music instrument thief

BELLINGEN can stand proud in its community spirit this week after residents assisted a Sydney rock band solve the mysterious theft of their music equipment.

The saga began on Friday night when five-piece band Lepers & Crooks performed at Bellingen's Federal Hotel.

After partying with local residents and heading back to their hotel, the band said they turned away a stranger who was looking to join in the fun.

They said they became suspicious of him after he bragged about a hard drive which he had stolen from the party earlier in the night.

The next morning, before departing for their Brisbane show, the band discovered $15,000 worth of guitars, a bass, mixing equipment, expensive microphones and cash had been stolen from their touring van.

The hard drive taken from the party was left on top of the van, putting the stranger from the previous night at the scene.

On a mission to recover their property, the band began "spreading the world" among local residents about what had happened.

The band bumped into local musician Luke Wilton who remembered chatting to the suspect - known as PJ - who was staying at the community gardens.

Arriving at the gardens, it was evident the man "had already made a dash for it", but "with enough asking, found one of PJ's mates, who was able to give him a call and tell him the gig was up".

The gear was dropped off at Coffs Harbour Police Station soon after, with the band making it to Brisbane for their 11pm set.

Vocalist Pat Reuter-Town said it would take "more than stolen gear to stop us from playing a show".

"We were blown away by the support we received from everyone in Bellingen who helped us to track down the culprit," he said.

"We still can't believe the community spirit and can't wait to come back and play to show our support.

"It's time like these that remind us how lucky we are to do what we do."



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