Saxophone Theft: The Underlying Violation

Whenever I google news searches for saxophone, I am always surprised how many saxophone theft stories inevitably pop up. It is really quite remarkable how many people have their saxophones stolen in the course of a month. (And don’t even get me started on those asshats who have broken into’s shop three times recently, and stolen 100K+ worth of pro horns sans cases… But I digress…)

Despite the numerous saxophone theft stories reported regularly, very seldom do you ever find stories about the outcome of these stolen horns. Did the person get their horn back? Did the thieves get caught? What kind of punishment did they receive?

The Music Man, original film soundtrack, CD cover, Well finally, there is a stolen saxophone story that is complete from beginning to end.

Let’s take a trip to the state of Iowa, and to the home town of The Music Man’s creator, Meredith Willson…

Student victim of saxophone theft

A Mason City student had his saxophone stolen from a school bus stop at 6:55 am, on February 2 of this year. Two fine, upstanding  👿   Mason City residents were arrested when they tried to sell the stolen saxophone at a local music store. No word on what make or model the horn was, but the Globe Gazette reported it to be worth $1,500.1

Fast forward to April 14, when the Globe ran a follow-up story about these two asshats who stole the saxophone from the school bus stop. (Really, how low can people sink.)

The 69-year-old male was sentenced to 62 days in jail, after pleading guilty to misdemeanor third-degree theft. (He had originally been charged with felony second-degree theft.) Furthermore, a $625 fine was suspended, but he was ordered to pay a $125 surcharge and court costs. Me wonders: Just where exactly is he going to get the money ❓ ❓ ❓

This fine, upstanding gentleman’s accomplice was a woman aged 28. According to the same Globe article, she was given a two-year suspended sentence in March, after pleading guilty to third-degree theft.

robber, break-in, crowbar, balaclava, hoodie, saxophone theft, We could speculate wildly as to why these two asshats stole a vulnerable student’s saxophone at a bus stop before many of us even get up in the morning. If it had happened here, the most likely reason would have been to support their drug habit.

That said, the reason why is really quite irrelevant. It’s the feeling of violation that the theft leaves the victim with—regardless of the thief’s motivation—that is the commonality.

Regardless of where you live; regardless of your race; colour; socio-economic status; political leanings; or gender, having someone steal something from you is an invasion of your personal space. Even if what was stolen was out of your home at the time: the object was yours, and by extension, is a part of you.

Theft of a saxophone is incredibly personal

Arguably, nothing is more of an extension of you than a musical instrument. It is an extension of your voice—especially if it is a wind instrument.

Of all the wind instruments, saxophones have the greatest ability to mimic the human voice. Therefore having someone steal your sax, or even just a part of your sax (like your mouthpiece that is integral to your sound), is in effect stealing your voice.

I don’t expect thieves to understand this concept. Hell, personal space and the invasion of privacy is something that criminals give a flying f!*# about. Whether the reason is that they didn’t get enough love from their mommy at an early age; or because they ran with the wrong crowd; or because their lives went down the shitter for whatever reason, at some point people need to stop; take some responsibility for their actions; and grow the f!*# up.

Stealing someone’s shit to support yourself is not OK by anyone’s moral compass. But then I guess that’s the problem…

I wonder if we could create an app to fix or replace broken and missing moral compasses. Whoever invented such an app, would make a freaking fortune ❗


12 accused of swiping saxophone from Mason City student Source: , by Molly Montag, February 15, 2017, Globe Gazette.

© 2017, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.


  1. when an animal starts to bite or steal they become good target practice

  2. Sometimes the problem isn’t a broken moral compass, it’s that the pole has shifted. When you hold a magnet next to a compass, it swings. When you put a bigger need (biological craving) next to a possibly weak moral “field”, then every compass that comes its way will point at it.

    This is certainly not to condone the actions, it’s just to explain the problem. Some people are in positions where their animal needs overwhelm everything else. Trying to figure out why they do what they do should start by understanding their moral compasses are stuck to a lodestone. Perhaps they can be pried away, but it’s going to take work (in the mechanical sense as well as the common).

    Animals don’t worry if something is important to you before stealing it. If they want it, and it’s unguarded, they’ll take it. If it’s guarded by a minor threat, they’ll attack. If it’s guarded by a greater threat, they’ll run. But animals can also be tamed and tricked.

    Anyhow, this connects to your point about a thief giving zero fks about your needs, about your personal space, about your data. Whatever gets them money, now, that’s what they’ll do, especially if it has worked before.

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