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Tuba Thieves Strike Again, Gut School's Music Program

Damion Wiggins plays the tuba during the after-school music program at Indianapolis Public School 70. i i
Darron Cummings/AP
Damion Wiggins plays the tuba during the after-school music program at Indianapolis Public School 70.
Darron Cummings/AP

Burglars broke into two more Los Angeles area schools over winter vacation and stole valuable tubas and other instruments worth thousands of dollars. The effect devastated Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim: the criminals snatched every single instrument the school owned.

NPR's Tell Me More talked about the musical thefts with Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones:

"And, you know, Southgate High School, a high school near here, lost five tubas in two burglaries. Huntington Park lost three tubas in two burglaries. One a few days ago out of Anaheim where a middle school that has a very poor area, you know, the instruments that they have are really difficult to replace economically, they lost every instrument they had. They had baritones, tubas trumpets, the whole bit. The thieves broke in and didn't touch the computer equipment that they could easily have stolen. It was all musical instruments."

Sam writes in the Times the junior high's loss is estimated at $25,000.

Why would thieves target school instruments? As Mark wrote last month, the tubas are worth thousands of dollars each, and they're key in banda music, Latin dance music led by the tuba and supported by brass and woodwinds. The Times reports burglarized schools are in Latino neighborhoods.

Sycamore's music program appears wiped out. The Orange County Register spoke to the principal, who says insurance won't cover enough replacement instruments; families need the loaners because they can't afford anything else. Rich Gordon, the junior high school's music director, sighed to the Register: "I don't know how we will rebuild our collection. This is really devastating."

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