East Bay music teacher hopes to get stolen guitars returned

RICHMOND, Calif. (KTKVU) -- A Bay Area musician told KTVU Tuesday he is heartbroken after thieves stole four guitars and numerous family heirlooms from his Richmond home. 

Richmond Police said it has two detectives investigating the case, but Jay Kirkland -- who also teaches guitar to at risk youth for the nonprofit Guitars Not Guns -- says he doesn't feel safe because the thieves have not been arrested.

Kirkland says playing music kept him safe as a young boy growing up in Richmond.

"Gun violence. I've lost three friends who aren't here now because of it," said Kirkland.

The 49-year-old told KTVU music kept him in tune with what is important.

But one guitar he uses to teach and three others to perform with were stolen a week ago during a burglary at his home.

"Completely shocked, disbelief....brokenhearted," said Kirkland as he described how the theft left him feeling.

On Friday, a woman was caught on surveillance camera at the Guitar Center in Emeryville with one of Kirkland's guitars. She was trying to sell it.

A friend of the musician who works at the store recognized the guitar and called police. Emeryville police cited the woman for possession of stolen property, but she was not arrested.

Police said it's a misdemeanor when the stolen item is valued at less than $900.

Kirkland and his girlfriend Barbara Gorin rushed to the store.

"I was disgusted. I couldn't believe it. I've never felt like that in my life. I felt like I got punched in the stomach," said Gorin when she learned the woman with the guitar and the two people with her were not arrested.

Gorin runs the Contra Costa County chapter of Guitars Not Guns.

She tells us the guitar the woman was trying to sell has been returned, but three other electric guitars are still missing.

They include a white First Act guitar, an Ibanez in a smokey taupe color and a third instrument that has black and orange tiger stripes.

"How can they do this to someone without any regard?" asked Gorin.

The musician couple suspects that the two women and one man seen at the store are the same people trying to break into Kirkland's home twice more last weekend.

"I want to make sure these people get caught. I don't want it to happen to nobody else at all," said Kirkland.

Richmond police tell KTVU it is processing the fingerprints found in Kirkland's house to see if they match the fingerprints of the three people detained at the Guitar Center.