This post has been updated. See details at the bottom.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ stolen guitars have been located and an arrest has been made, according to our sister blog L.A. Now, but full details won’t be released until 3 p.m. today at a press conference scheduled by the Culver City Police Department.
Last week the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band showed up to rehearse at a Culver City soundstage for a new tour that gets under way this week, only to discover that five electric guitars were missing: two belonging to Petty, one that was guitarist Mike Campbell’s, one of Scott Thurston’s and one from bassist Ron Blair.
Petty issued a $7,500 no-questions-asked reward for the return of the instruments. The band also posted photos and detailed descriptions of the missing guitars on the group's official website.
Fans quickly responded with outpourings of sympathy as well as many calls for harsh consequences for those responsible.
“Catch thieves and hang ‘em at the nearest tree,” Times reader Ken Smith posted after Pop & Hiss reported the theft.
Several fans posted variations on that theme on Petty’s own website, others offering suggestions on how the instruments might be tracked and retrieved. One fan from Colorado even said he’d contribute an extra $250 to bolster the reward.
“Come on everyone! Kick in some money to get some attention from the SOB's that did this,” David Taylor wrote.
Petty’s manager told Pop & Hiss the group will withhold comment until today’s press conference.
[Update at 5:11 p.m.: At the press conference, Culver City police said a man who worked as a private security guard at the Culver Studios soundstage was arrested in connection with the thefts. He was identified as Daryl Emmette Washington, 51, of Los Angeles. The guitars are being returned to Petty and the band, who are on their way to start their tour Wednesday in Colorado. Police Chief Don Pedersen said the suspect had pawned one of the guitars for $250. The collection was valued at more than $100,000. In a statement posted on his web site after the news conference, Petty said, "I am extremely grateful to the Culver City Police Department for a job well done and touched by the outpouring of good wishes and concern from our fans and friends."
— Randy Lewis
Photo of Heartbreakers (l-r): Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell and Tom Petty during the group's benefit concert performance for KCSN-FM (88.5) in Northridge last fall. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.