Police recover instruments stolen from Carle Place Middle-High School
It was, Carle Place Superintendent of Schools Christine Finn said, “the best phone call I’ve ever had to make.”
She had contacted Richard Stein, a music teacher at the high school, to inform him that police had recovered his beloved Fender Stratocaster guitar, which had been stolen along with other musical instruments in two burglaries in June.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder held a press conference in the high school lobby on June 29 to show off the 10 musical instruments recovered after they were stolen earlier that month.
Curran thanked “the amazing police work from our amazing police department and the great cooperation with the community. Our kids have had a lot to deal with, and playing music for so many has been a great escape and a great way to make music together. I’m so happy that these instruments were recovered and whoever did these bad deeds we’ll have to face the music (laughter).”
“I can’t follow that,” Ryder chuckled. “First of all, we spend a lot of time here in Carle Place because we have a great relationship and I have to thank the superintendent for that. We’re always talking about school safety and protecting our kids. This time it’s protecting the instruments these kids play and that’s so important to us.”
“How do you feel?” Stein, an orchestra instructor, was asked after he stepped up to the microphones.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he replied. “It’s great to see the students’ instruments back and to see my own guitar here. I’m shaking. I never thought I’d see it again.”
He added, “I bought this particular instrument as a way of honoring my brother. I knew what was coming and I thought that this was a wonderful way [to remember him].”
His brother John died from what Richard said was a rare and fatal cancer in 2015.
Stein later gave an impromptu demonstration of his guitar prowess on the Fender and declared, “It plays beautifully.”
“It was used by a lot of rockers in the sixties,” someone observed.
“That’s exactly why [I got it],” Stein replied. “The earliest picture I have is of Jimi Hendrix playing a [Fender] Stratocaster Sunburst. My brother was about five years older than me and turned me on to Hendrix and all this wonderful music way back then.”
He added, “I knew his days were numbered, and I always knew I wanted to get myself a Stratocaster. It was the right time to do it. He never heard it and he never saw it.”
The Steins hailed from Pittsburgh but grew up outside of Detroit and Richard said that the Motor City music scene shaped his music education.
Of the police he said, “They’ve done a fantastic job. I never thought I’d see this again.”
How did he feel when he learned that his guitar was stolen?
“I was devastated,” he replied.
Stein said he provided the superintendent with pictures and the serial number of his instrument. He wasn’t sure how many of the other stolen instruments had such a number.
Not Too Many Details
“How did the burglars get in?” a reporter asked, and Finn said to laughter, “We’re not at liberty to discuss that.”
Asked when she heard from the police about the burglaries, Finn replied, “[Actually], we called them. I can’t get into [the details], but clearly, the alarm system did not work. Now it does.”
When the accused tried to break into Rushmore Elementary School, Finn said, the alarm was tripped and the police showed up and caught them.
To further questions, Ryder replied that the burglars were not affiliated with the school in any way and had no known drug habits to sustain.
According to a narrative provided by the police, three men were charged with the burglaries.
Officers responded to Rushmore Elementary School for an alarm in the early morning of June 21. They spotted Gem Hattat, 27, of Lindenhurst, and Jarrett Boyarsky, 27, of Westbury, on the roof and they were arrested after they jumped down. Per a press release, Hattat and Boyarsky were responsible for the following burglaries:
June 4: Both subjects entered Carle Place Middle-High School located at 168 Cherry Lane. Proceeds were musical instruments. A smartboard and laptop were damaged.
June 10: Boyarsky entered the school and stole more musical instruments.
June 18: Hattat enter Island Power Sports located at 4116 Sunrise Highway, Massapequa. No loss reported.
On June 29, police arrested Ulysseus Gillian-Smith, 27, of Brentwood, for the June 10 incident.
Hattat is charged with burglary in the third degree and three counts of burglary in the third degree (attempted). Boyarsky is charged with two counts of burglary in the third degree and two counts of burglary in the third degree (attempted). Gillian-Smith has been charged with burglary in the third degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. All have been arraigned.
Ryder praised his department’s detective work that resulted in recovering the instruments. He said his detectives have tracked a missing flute to California and hoped to get that instrument returned.
“Is that flute very valuable?” Ryder was asked, and he deferred to Finn, who answered, “Yes it is. It’s about $1,000. And it’s the property of a student. Some instruments that were taken were the property of the school and some were the property of individuals.”
It would have been a big blow to the music program if the instruments were not recovered, Finn acknowledged, adding, “Remember, it’s not just the actual value of the instruments, it’s the sentimental value.”
In reply to a question, the superintendent said there were no opportunities left in the school year to use the instruments.
“But it doesn’t matter when it happened, it’s just the fact that it happened. It’s unsettling and It’s upsetting for our parents. Kids don’t always bring home their instruments every night—they store them [here].” Finn observed.
Michael Limone, the high school’s chair of fine and performing arts, told reporters that five stolen instruments belonged to students. A student-owned guitar and saxophone were recovered. A flute, violin and saxophone were still missing, though as Ryder had noted, police had tracked down the flute to California.
A police spokesperson said that at least 13 instruments were stolen, and a low-end estimate of their value was $8,000.