Thieves steal Pasadena instruments as district aims to ramp up music program

A Pasadena school had $15,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment stolen this week.
A Pasadena school had $15,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment stolen this week.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC

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Students from Marshall Fundamental Secondary School in Pasadena were grappling Friday with a theft of musical instruments that left them scrambling ahead of two big performances this week, including one at Disneyland. 

Pasadena police are still investigating the theft of about $15,000 worth of instruments and other equipment from the school. No suspects have been arrested, Lt. Diego Torres said Friday.

Some music students were stunned to learn of the theft.

"I walked into school and just everything was gone," said high school senior Toby Bradford, who plays the tuba. "I noticed that the TV was gone and the sound system was gone and a lot of instruments were gone."

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Flutes, trombones and saxophones were taken along with guitars and bass amps, some of which belonged to students.

About 30 6th- to 12th-grade students at the school sat out practice during music classes this week because the school no longer has enough flutes.

The theft comes at a time when Pasadena Unified is working to expand its music program.

District officials are drafting budget plans for next year and hope to hire two additional elementary music teachers. The plan is to build up the program and eventually boost music education in the secondary schools, according to Jen Olson, the district's arts education coordinator.

The district was able to borrow enough instruments from other schools for the performances that were planned this weekend, including an all-district music concert and a performance scheduled Saturday at Disneyland. But the school's instrumental music director Joel Lopez said he's worried about the rest of the school year. 

“Some students just have to sit there," he said. The school has launched an online fundraising campaign to help replace the instruments. 

Three years ago, Southern California schools were hit by a a string of tuba thefts. Pasadena police say they don’t think this crime is linked to a series of thefts. No other instruments have been reported stolen from area schools.