Police in Houston, Texas, have arrested 130 people suspected of working together to steal music equipment from touring bands.
It follows a spate of thefts in the region, where vehicles pulling trailers – a standard means of travel for musicians – had been targeted. Over $2m of property is thought to have been involved.
In January this year, Saving Country Music reported that Houston was becoming the “stolen music gear capital of the world.”
The sting, codenamed Operation Wheels And Deals, was executed after the theft of a 100-year-old fiddle from country music artist Zane Williams resulted in the discovery of new information.
Houston Police Department Captain Daryn Edwards says: “HPD’s burglary and theft division was investigating a large theft that involving Zane Williams.
- Motley Crue ex John Corabi bewildered by Nikki Sixx attack
- AC/DC’s Stevie Young: I’m not trying to imitate Malcolm
- Hellfest boss vows to improve event next year in open letter to fans
- Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton describes Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow shows as 'flat'
“Through zealous investigation, our detective began to suspect a large criminal enterprise involved in targeting big-ticket items, usually transported via large trailers, in which the trailer and all of its contents were stolen.”
Police Lieutenant Mike Osina says the crime ring called their activies “shopping.” He continues: “They would drive around and look for a vehicle with a trailer on it. They would sit on it and see if anybody was going to come to it.
“If somebody was going inside to eat, they would steal it. They didn’t care about the vehicles – they wanted to contents of the trailer.”
The evidence collected means that the suspects can be charged with offences carrying heavier punishments than small-time thefts. Prison terms of up to 15 years could be imposed.
Over 200 charges have been laid so far, with further arrests expected.