Metro musician estimates thieves took about $20,000 worth of instruments from storage unit

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- One musician from Johnson County says he's been ripped off, as crooks made off with thousands of dollars in musical instruments.

Chris Hazelton says it's like he lost of piece of his soul. His eyes are usually on the keys of his organ, but now, he's also watching local pawn shops. Hazelton says it was this weekend when he discovered a treasure trove of musical instruments stolen from his storage space in Merriam.

Hazelton says it was Saturday evening, and he stopped at his storage unit to retrieve equipment to use at that evening's show in Lawrence.

“I opened the door, and literally, everything with the exception of some very menial items was gone,” Hazelton said.

Hazelton says thieves took several a guitar, a trumpet, and three expensive keyboards, including a sought-after Hammond B3 organ like the one he keeps at home. Hazelton told the Merriam Police Department he estimates the total loss at $20,000.

“I was upset that I didn't have gear to go play the gig that night. I love performing for people. My passion is to play funky music that moves people,” Hazelton lamented.

He does just that, playing several shows per month with his jazz-funk band, The Boogaloo Seven, but without his gear, Saturday night's show had to be canceled, and he's had to borrow equipment to secure other paid performances.

“Taking away that particular instrument felt like taking away part of my voice,” Hazelton said.

Other musicians understand his aggravation, including Eddie Moore, who plays the keys with his own Kansas City-based jazz band, The Outer Circle.

“When you're a musician, you think you're on your own,” Moore said. “It's the closest thing to a person that could be taken other than another life. As a pianist, that's an extension of our minds. We're singing through that instrument.”

Hazelton says it isn't even the musical gear he'll miss the most. He and his wife are recent newlyweds and many keepsakes, including items from their wedding were stored there. He says those items, unless they're recovered, will be impossible to replace.

Hazelton and his band are frequent performers at the Green Lady Lounge in downtown Kansas City. If you can help him get his equipment back, contact the Merriam Police Department. Their number is (913) 322-5560.

(Reporter’s note – Hazelton’s story was originally posted to the Stolen KC Facebook group.)