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Mar 25, 2024 - 4:40:08 PM
2048 posts since 4/10/2005

A 12-inch Mike Ramsey brass hoop banjo stolen from my home by burglars along with other instruments during the Presidents Day weekend in February has been sitting on ebay since March 16. The seller posted it with a ridiculously high Buy It Now price and has been lowering the price a couple hundred dollars every two or so days.

I do not possess the serial # or receipt for the banjo, but do have a long email chain with Elderly in 2015 discussing a different banjo, in which I noted having purchased this Ramsey 12-inch walnut "Dobson" brass hoop banjo from Elderly during the 2000s.

All at one time on March 16, the seller posted this banjo, my early-1990s Bart Reiter Whyte Laydie #2, and a cool "Nick Lucas" homage guitar briefly made by Recording King, all plundered from my home in late February. The police and ebay advised that due to how long it would probably take to process warrants, etcetera, and due to the tendency of problematic sellers to vanish along with posted items when contacted by law enforcement, Buy It Now was the only way I could be sure to recover any of them.

So I "ransomed" the Reiter as well as the guitar last week, and identified the ebay seller using the return address on the UPS package when the Reiter was delivered. The police have all this material. I visited them for a second time late Friday afternoon three days ago to provide the information about the seller. I don't know how quickly they will be able to move on the person and/or deal with ebay. I can't "ransom" the Ramsey at this overblown price, and even at market rate it would be a struggle due to my outlay to rescue the other items.

The seller is a pawn broker in my city, not self-identified as such on ebay. I assume they are a fence/receiver, but have no idea what the police will be able to prove. Perhaps if the pawn broker wishes to remain on ebay and wishes to try to convince the police it was an innocent mistake, this will have a good ending.   That is, if the police catch up with them before the price lowers to a point that someone will want to buy it.  We'll see.

I posted the saga about the Reiter WL on the "Clawhammer Other Topics" forum, but thought perhaps the "Swap" forum might be an apt spot for a warning about the banjo still on the 'bay.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 03/27/2024 17:14:44

Mar 25, 2024 - 5:09:57 PM

3540 posts since 4/7/2010

Mar 25, 2024 - 5:37:08 PM



8939 posts since 11/28/2003

I certainky hope the local police will help you. Please post updates as this unfolds.

Mar 25, 2024 - 7:18:24 PM
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5003 posts since 9/12/2016

I hope they nail him

Mar 25, 2024 - 8:17:57 PM

6926 posts since 10/13/2007

Good luck. I hope justice is had. This is different than the post I read earlier about the flathead returned 42 years after it was stolen.

Mar 26, 2024 - 6:31:28 AM

804 posts since 7/10/2012

What a sickening experience. I am looking forward to hearing the resolution of your story and hope it ends in justice!


Mar 26, 2024 - 7:36:20 AM
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354 posts since 2/22/2019

Unfortunately in many areas of the US the police have checked out. Look at the increasing issues with squatters. I hope you do get your banjo back.

Edited by - HighLonesomeF5 on 03/26/2024 07:50:06

Mar 26, 2024 - 7:58:24 AM

15224 posts since 6/2/2008

Congrats on getting back what you have so far. Good luck on the Ramsey.

I infer from your description that it's your unfortunate lack of documentation that keeps the police from simply retrieving the banjo from the pawn shop.

Mar 26, 2024 - 8:17:16 AM
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2346 posts since 5/19/2018

People - photograph your instruments. Put a small “Tell” on it in a hidden place. Initials, last 4 of your SSN, ect, and get instrument insurance.

A separate instrument policy is very easy to get and very, very cheap to maintain. Worth every Penny if you have an accident or some low life idiot decides to take possession of your instrument.

I wish you luck in getting what is rightfully yours.

Mar 26, 2024 - 10:25:50 AM
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3049 posts since 2/12/2005

In my state, the police and the Pawn brokers work collaboratively on topics like this.Otherwise the pawn brokers would go out of business. We got some electronics back that were stolen from a car.

Mar 26, 2024 - 10:40:32 AM

1677 posts since 11/10/2022
Online Now

Has the link to the stolen banjo been posted? Has the ebay seller been notified its stolen? Without evidence it was yours it will be tough to convince a jury or the pawn broker it was yours.

It could be the pawnbroker just buys whatever and then returns stolen items like most pawn brokers. Most people dont look hard for stolen items so they get sold with no issues. But if plenty of ebayers email the seller, they might capitulate.

Mar 26, 2024 - 10:54:46 AM

795 posts since 5/29/2015

When purchasing an instrument get a receipt that lists the make/model/serial number. Write a number (1, 2, 3,) on the receipt. Put the receipt in a file and preferably scan a copy to your computer. Enter the number of the receipt, the make, model and serial number and date of purchase into a spreadsheet. Do this for other valuables. You now have a record of the purchase useful for dealing with an item being stolen and the inevitable eventual sale of the item which triggers capital gains taxes. Better to pay 28% of the profit rather than the total amount because you don't have the receipt.

A person who possesses a stolen instrument does not necessarily know it is stolen. Years ago at the music store we sold a Gibson EB-0 bass to someone. A few weeks later he came in on a Friday and told us his home had been broken into and the bass stolen. The next Tuesday someone walked into our shop to sell us the same bass. The bass had changed hands four times in the space of five days. The last two owners were unaware it was stolen, although certainly motivated by flipping instruments for profit. Not a wise idea to publicly accuse someone of being a thief until after an arrest.

The pawn shop's responsibility is to accurately report the purchase or pawn to the police. There is usually a LE pawn shop detail in large cities. The police are responsible for diligently reviewing pawn records for evidence of stolen goods. Lots of room for error or laziness. Visiting local pawn shops ten days and three months after a theft is a good idea.

Mar 26, 2024 - 11:07:05 AM
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93 posts since 8/2/2014

DISGUSTING and, I'm sure, sickening. I hate a thief!

Mar 26, 2024 - 4:07:20 PM

1086 posts since 3/23/2006

Try asking local elected officials to help you. It is their job to help you with local government issues.

Mar 26, 2024 - 5:06:30 PM
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2048 posts since 4/10/2005

Originally posted by Old Hickory

Congrats on getting back what you have so far. Good luck on the Ramsey.

I infer from your description that it's your unfortunate lack of documentation that keeps the police from simply retrieving the banjo from the pawn shop.

I had the Serial # of the Reiter this seller posted on ebay the same day as the Ramsey.  I posted the serial here weeks before the items went up on ebay.  The Reiter serial was visible in one photo with the listing.  I took all including the bhangout thread to the police.

With the Ramsey, which I bought through Elderly, what I have is a 2015 email discussion with Elderly about a different banjo, in which I mentioned having purchased a 12-inch walnut Ramsey brass hoop banjo with "Dobson" cosmetics from them years earlier.  That is the Ramsey now on ebay.  The police have the 2015 email discussion and appear to find it good evidence.


I don't know what the status is or why the listing is still active, will follow up tomorrow and see if they'll share an update.  I do see recent news stories about the division busting organized fencing/receiver  crews or rings lately.  I did also tell the detective I wanted my property and recompense but that if there was any indication this party was involved in crime, I hoped they would go after them to the fullest extent possible.

Mar 26, 2024 - 5:21:07 PM
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2048 posts since 4/10/2005

I have email receipts for recent/pandemic-lockdown period purchases of a couple of stolen banjos that have not appeared anywhere.

I also have receipts for purchases of accordions, the instrument I'm currently playing and performing with most often. But accordions can be turned over rapidly south of the border. I believe mine were out of the U.S. weeks ago. Banjos are a different story. That detail would be kind of  funny if the whole situation weren't so awful.

Edited by - ceemonster on 03/26/2024 17:25:19

Mar 27, 2024 - 11:56:58 AM



2353 posts since 8/9/2019

Why not walk into the pawnshop and steal it back. Or go in there with all your proof and demand your property back?

Mar 27, 2024 - 2:30:39 PM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

Originally posted by ChunoTheDog

Why not walk into the pawnshop and steal it back. Or go in there with all your proof and demand your property back?


Look where that got O.J. Simpson, roll-eyes, roll-eyes.

On a more serious note, there are a few snags with that one:

---The instrument very possibly is not at the shop.  The ebay item "Location" listed was not the location of the shop.  The ebay seller moniker was not that of the shop.  I  identified the shop only because the ebay seller put the shop address as the return address on the UPS package when sending the Reiter banjo I "ransomed" with an ebay purchase.      However, the listed ebay "Location"  did match the address history of the individual named as the pawnshop owner on  Better Business Bureau records.   Which was in a completely different part of town than the pawnshop.  I'm not going to anyone's residence, thank you.   Also, there were several addresses nearby one another in the public records history--It is unknown how many of them are warehouses or storage.

---The police are now involved.  They don't look kindly on "self-help" efforts when there's an open case pending.

----We live in dangerous times, and my city can be a nasty place, particularly in the last couple of years.    This seller-slash-pawnshop owner might be a small business owner.   Or . . . they might be part of an organized fencing operation linked to organized crime.   I confess I have been toying with the idea of browsing the shop incognito, but I'm uneasy about it.  I would be conspicuous there due to ethnic demographics in the part of town where the shop is located, and I do not want to be noticed.     But even if I did decide to mosey by the place, no way would I be confronting anyone.  

Edited by - ceemonster on 03/27/2024 14:38:04

Mar 27, 2024 - 3:52:56 PM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

This story is 10 years old, but should give the idea as to one possibility:

Literally this week, the current issue of the New Yorker has a crime story about organized retail burglary here. In this one pawnbrokers are mentioned only as destinations:

Mar 27, 2024 - 4:54:31 PM

1677 posts since 11/10/2022
Online Now

There is a good point to going in the pawnshop and confronting, asking for your money back. If they give it back and your banjos the story is over. If they refuse then you take them to civil court where the burden of proof is much lower.

You can also report them to the county, state and FBI to increase the odds with the sit and wait strategy.

My pops was a mid size town police detective. He solved about 5 crimes out of the 75 they laid across his desk each month. That was considered outstanding.

Mar 28, 2024 - 8:45:02 AM



8939 posts since 11/28/2003

I notice the ebay seller keeps lowering the price. Down to $1999 now.

Mar 28, 2024 - 12:10:13 PM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

Yes, they started at an overblown $3200-something and have been reducing in increments every day or so.

Mar 28, 2024 - 6:38:51 PM

87 posts since 12/8/2011

Have you asked Elderly if they have any record of the banjo? On one hand, that's a while ago. On the other, a record (with hopefully the serial number) might be just a CTRL-F away.

Mar 29, 2024 - 8:55:22 AM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

I did go by the pawnshop yesterday, in an extremely high-density, slummy barrio area outside the downtown core. Half a block from a local police station.

It was creepy and sketchy. The door was unlocked, it was open hours, but when I opened the door there was a partition or barrier right at the entryway so you could not see around it to the interior, and it was dark and dim, like a bar. And an individual with a shaved head wearing dark shades put himself in the doorway blocking entry and said, "What do you want." I said I wanted to browse used merchandise, and didn't they have things for sale. He goes, Yeeees . . . but there is a meeting in the back right now until 3:30 and no entry.

I went across the street where I'd parked near a Goodwill and a huge space selling vintage furnishings specializing in old Spanish/Mexican/Mission wrought iron, tile, pottery, other stuff. To my surprise they proved to be a vintage house that left its longtime space in my own neighborhood 10 or so years ago. In the course of chitchat I asked if they ever saw anything funny afoot at the pawnshop across the street. They laughed and said, Oh, yes we do. They said, There doesn't seem to be much pawnshop business happebing there, that's for sure. They kind of smirked and said something like, We have our theories, or, We have our suspicions. They said the police were there frequently.

I won't be going back.

Edited by - ceemonster on 03/29/2024 08:56:15

Mar 29, 2024 - 9:01:55 AM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

Originally posted by Barnacle Joe

Have you asked Elderly if they have any record of the banjo? On one hand, that's a while ago. On the other, a record (with hopefully the serial number) might be just a CTRL-F away.


I don't think the police saw it as a snag given what I did have and given that I had the serial# of the Reiter that was also in the clutches of these creeps.  

Mar 29, 2024 - 5:30:13 PM

2048 posts since 4/10/2005

Found the Serial # for another plundered banjo not on ebay (at the moment) : Chuck Lee #087, 11-inch "Chatauqua" Silver Bell. Just left the police division from adding it to the report. Hating this.

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