In a change of fortune, a San Francisco band that had its van and equipment stolen in Chicago last week will head back to California in the coming days with some of their gear in tow thanks to an astute guitar vendor.
Still, the members of FayRoy will leave the Chicago area without their luggage, which they discovered was burned, and their 1997 Chevy Conversion van, which band member Zack Hoje said the thieves chopped and ground in an effort to cover their tracks.
The van, and everything in it, was stolen in the early morning hours of Sept. 10 while parked near the intersection of Chicago Avenue and North Wood Street. The theft left them stranded in the Windy City and forced them to cancel an upcoming show in Dayton, Ohio.
But earlier this week Hoje said a sharp-eyed clerk at a Guitar Center store in Villa Park called him with an unusual question.
"She said, 'Hey there, a guy just brought in a Fender Telecaster. Do you own one?' and I said, 'Yeah, it was stolen,'" Hoje recalled.
He said the woman called him after running the serial number on the guitar and noticed that it was registered to Berkeley, Calif.
"I'm holding it right now, and the guy is getting antsy," Hoje said the clerk told him.
Police were called and the man, who Hoje believes was working as a middle man for the thieves, led them to a lot on the city's west side where more equipment -- keyboards, an acoustic guitar, and "99 percent of the drum set" -- was recovered.
"But they burned all of our luggage, which was a bummer," Hoje said.
Hoje said the police investigation ground to a halt when the man who tried to sell the guitar stopped talking. To his knowledge, no charges had been filed in the case as of Thursday.
Now the group is looking to rent a vehicle and drive back to California in the next few days with what they've been able to recover. Hoje said FayRoy's upcoming west coast tour will include a few benefit concerts in effort to recoup their losses.
Until then, "We have stuff we can borrow, friends we can stay with," said Hoje.