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Guitars stolen from Tom Petty and Heartbreakers at Culver Studios

April 14, 2012 | 10:11 am

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Five guitars belonging to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were stolen from a soundstage at The Culver Studios in Culver City, according to the band’s website. A reward of $7,500 with “no questions asked” is being offered.

Petty had been rehearsing at the studios in advance of the band's 2012 North America-Europe tour, which kicks off on April 18 in Broomfield, Colo. No shows have been planned for Los Angeles.

The theft was reported to the Culver City Police Department on April 12 a little after 4 p.m., according to Sgt Dan Sukal.

The Culver Studios, a complex of 16 soundstages just off Culver Boulevard, was the home of “Deal or No Deal,” “America’s Next Top Model,” and “The Starter Wife.” Films such as “State of Play” and “Rush Hour 3” have also been filmed here. “Cougar Town" is currently in production on the lot.  

The guitars include Petty’s 1967 12-string Rickenbacker and his Gibson SG TV Junior, Ron Blair's Fender Broadcaster, Scott Thurston's 1967 Epiphone Sheridan and Mike Campbell's blue Dusenberg, which was built for Campbell to commemorate the band's 30th anniversary.

Fan reaction to the theft was fierce. “... nothing lower in life then a thief who would steal a mans tools to feed his family,” wrote one.

“I don't normally condone acts of violence against others, but since I'm referring to nothing more than knuckle-dragging neanderthals – I hope somebody beats the [expletive] out of them with their own clubs,” wrote another.

Petty, originally from Gainesville, Fla., first recorded in Los Angeles in 1974. At the time, he was an unknown, living in seedy hotels and on advances, when he got the phone number of Shelter Records one day while eating at Ben Frank’s on the Sunset Strip.

After signing with the record company, he was playing one night in the studio when the descending chords of “Breakdown” came to him.

In 1977, the song got air play on KHJ, squeezed in with songs by KISS and Andy Gibb, and it eventually landed on Billboard’s Top 40. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

On an unrelated video posted to the band’s website, Campbell spoke a little about his affection for the guitar. “I fell in love with the guitar when I was 15.  I still love the guitar as much as I did then. There are only six strings and 20 frets but there is a whole world of mystery and inspiration in this instrument,” Campbell said.

The band has asked anyone with information about the theft to email stolenguitars@tompetty.com or call Culver City police detectives at (310) 253-6305.

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-- Thomas Curwen

Photo: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform a benefit for KCSN radio at the Plaza Del Sol Performance Art Center on the campus of Cal State Northridge Oct. 29, 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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