Social media, police help recover stolen band instruments

Coyote rents gear to play weekend gigs, prepares to begin first national tour first week of September

Nigel Armstrong
Published on August 25, 2014

Bruce Rooney of the band Coyote holds his Fender Jaguar Reissue electric guitar moments after picking it up at the Charlottetown police station Monday. Seven pieces of the band's gear was stolen Friday but social media tips and hard work by Charlottetown Police Services recovered all but one guitar, said Rooney. The band leaves for its first national tour in two weeks.

©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Social media and hard work by Charlottetown police helped recover all but one guitar of seven instruments stolen Friday from the band Coyote.

“Things are looking up,” said lead guitarist Bruce Rooney as he took the newly recovered instruments out of the band’s vehicle.

The story began Friday as Coyote prepared to travel to Georgetown for the Cloggeroo Island Folk Festival.

“We were billed to play that so we jumped in the van, me and our drummer Mike (King) sometime (Friday) evening, probably around 6, 6:30 and not all the gear was missing so when we jumped in, there was stuff in there,” said Rooney.

By the time they picked up another band member they were starting to realize something was terribly wrong.

Turns out that a thief had taken four guitars and three keyboards out of the vehicle sometime early Friday.

Rooney suspects it was by bad luck and chance they had forgotten to lock the vehicle as they usually do.

The discovery threw the band into frantic mode. They called police and launched a social media blitz. They had serial numbers and photos of the equipment.

They went to Long & McQuade which allowed them to afforably rent replacement instruments to still play the Georgetown Cloggeroo and a wedding gig this past weekend.

Meanwhile, tips were coming in.

A member of a local radio station remembers seeing an odd sight early Friday on his way to work. A person wearing a hoodie was struggling to carry a long, heavy bag near where the items had been stolen.

People were reporting a man offering instruments for sale on Queen Street.

“Lots of people reaching out,” said Rooney. “A really big thank you to P.E.I. Pretty moving when you get emails from people you have never met in your life, offering up everything they have, saying ‘take it, take it on tour.’ “

A name emerged from the tips, followed by an address for a street right around the corner from the location of the theft.

“It turns out the guy was taking stuff right down the street and loading it into a sketchy house,” said Rooney.

Police told him that there wasn’t enough good information for a search warrant of that house, but the name of the alleged thief had an outstanding warrant for failure to attend a weekend jail term.

Police went calling, and followed leads and contacts to four homes and one car, picking up items of the stolen gear as they went.

Still missing, however, is a Gibson Midtown electric guitar.

“That’s my main guitar but I’m pretty sure we are going to find it,” said Rooney.

“The two officers that were helping me (Sunday) night just went above and beyond,” said Rooney. “Charlottetown Police have five gold stars in my book.”

Coyote has been playing for about four years on the Island with original tunes in the pop and rock genre.

“It’s very current sounding but we draw a lot from 70s and 80s popular rock music,” said Rooney. “It’s light-hearted, up-lifting, up-beat with lyrics that can relate to everyday life.”

Coyote is composed of Rooney who plays lead guitar with background vocals, brother Bradford, Josh Carter, Evan McCosham and Mike King.

The band will play Fishbones Sept. 5 then load into a van and drive across Canada to play in Victoria, B.C. followed by tour stops across the country on the way back.

The band will release its second album titled Proof of Life before they go.

They plan to make sure the tour vehicle is fully locked all the time, said Rooney. He says many are asking if a song will be forthcoming about the experience, but he’s a long way off from that as the band tries to get back on focus from the experience.