Shop Owner Seeks Help Finding Suspect Who Stole Custom Guitars

Mike Krauser
September 10, 2019 - 1:58 pm
A surveillance camera captured an image of the suspect.

photo provided


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The owner of a custom guitar shop in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood hopes social media and security camera images will lead to the return of guitars worth tens of thousands of dollars.  

“They took everything that was finished and playable," said Richard Phillis, owner of Chicago Guitarspace, pointing to the wall where the custom guitars were hanging.

“They got nine of my custom built instruments and a client of mine dropped off, oh God, ten minutes before the robbery, he dropped off a guitar for repair. They took his, too.”  

He said it can take five months to build one instrument. 

“These are hand crafted.  I start from scratch, design these things from just a pile of parts and wood and you know, a finished guitar.  That’s what was stolen.  Every single one,” he said.

Since the burglary late last month, he said musicians and other Luthiers, have offered to help.

“That’s been really nice. Some big names got in touch with me and at least said they would share the pictures and descriptions of all of the instruments," Phillis said.

He said some had the Chicago Guitarspace logos while others did not. 

For a person who finds them, he said, he would let them keep one, with the exception of a Gibson S-G that belongs to a client.

Insurance, he said, isn’t looking good.  He’s not sure what this will do to the business or whether he’ll be able to rebound. 

A surveillance camera captured an image of the suspect.

It appears to be a man disguised as a woman carrying the guitars to a waiting van at 6 p.m. one evening.

The building at 600 West Cermak is a shared space with a number of other businesses. 

Phillis also teaches musicians to make their own guitar effects pedals and said he has a class coming up at the end of the month. 

Information about the guitars and the classes are on the Chicago Guitarspace Facebook page.