HolyCoast: Grand Theft Tuba

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grand Theft Tuba

There's a weird new trend in high school thefts:
As Southern California awoke to the wreckage from a recent massive windstorm, music teacher Ruben Gonzalez Jr. was assessing a different sort of devastation in his band room at South Gate High School.

Thieves had pried open a door and torn the room apart while hunting for a specific instrument. "All they took were tubas," Gonzalez said. Losses included an upright concert tuba and a silver sousaphone — or marching-band tuba — worth a combined $13,000.

Several weeks earlier, band members at Centennial High School in Compton experienced a similar shock when they found that eight sousaphones were missing.

And on Tuesday, burglars broke into Huntington Park High School and spirited away the school's last tuba, according to band instructor Fernando Almader. A silver Jupiter tuba had been stolen earlier in the school year.

Those are just the latest in what police and music instructors are describing as a rash of unsolved tuba thefts at high schools in southeast Los Angeles County. The thefts, according to band leaders, were probably spurred by Southern California's banda music craze, as well as the high prices the brass instruments fetch on the black market. A high-quality tuba can cost well more than $5,000, but even an old, dented tuba can sell for as much as $2,000, music teachers say.
Strange. Keep an eye on your tubas, band directors.


Larry said...

Is there a reason a school would buy a silver tuba instead of plain brass or even fiberglass? Back in the day, plain brass was it -unless the parents shelled out their own dough for something fancy that they owned and took home.

Nightingale said...

Isn't brass made of copper and zinc? Isn't copper in high demand? I wonder if the thieves are selling them for scrap metal.

Sam L. said...

These thieves are just heavy metal fans.

Larry said...

You're probably right Nightingale. It reminds me of The Ruins of Detroit, where magnificent buildings that used to be centers of culture are left gutted by looters.