CHICAGO — A Pilsen guitar store owner is asking for help after a thief broke in and stole every instrument in his shop, methodically emptying the store minutes after it closed for the day.
Richard Phillis, who opened Chicago GuitarSpace about two years ago at 600 W. Cermak Road, said the thief made off with 12 guitars and basses worth tens of thousands. He doesn’t expect to be fully reimbursed by his insurance company.
The burglary could mean the end of Phillis’ business, which handmakes and repairs guitars and basses. He’s hoping supporters can find the stolen instruments and help his shop stay afloat.
“I guess we’re gonna see if we can survive this,” Phillis said. “This might be the end here.”
The burglary happened on Aug. 28. The shop owner left at 5:45 p.m. and, when he got back the next day at 12:30 p.m., found the door to the store open and merchandise missing, police said.
A surveillance video showed a person making multiple trips in and out of the store, taking items and loading them into a light gray van, police said. The burglar was about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds with black, braided hair, but police weren’t sure if the burglar was a man or woman.
No one was in custody and an investigation was ongoing.
Phillis said the burglar broke into his shop only minutes after he’d left for the day.
“I don’t know how to describe it — just shock,” said Phillis, who’s worked in music for 12 years. “That’s a culmination of everything I’ve been working on for … several years.”
The thief stole all of Phillis’ custom-made instruments, he said, as well as several he owned but didn’t make and one that belonged to a client. All that was left behind were a few instruments that are broken and being repaired or rebuilt.
Phillis posted a plea to supporters on social media, asking them to keep an eye out for the stolen instruments and to contact him or the police if they find any. He expects the burglar was planning to resell the guitars and basses quickly in resale shops and on sites like Craigslist and Reverb.
“It’s very clear that this stuff was stolen with the intention of turning it around right away and getting cash for it,” he said.
And those who wish to help can also do so by sharing his posts about the stolen items, ordering a custom instrument from him or going to classes taught by Phillis. He has a pedal-making workshop coming up Sept. 28-29.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around,” Phillis said.
The burglary happened “in broad daylight. Crazy.”
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