The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band's youth contingent is issuing a plea to whoever stole the bagpipes belonging to a 17-year-old band member: Return them. They're of no value to you – you won't be able to play or sell them.
"We're just asking for the person to do the right thing; put them where we can find them. We're not charging them or anything," says Rob Watt, secretary with the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band.
"We're just hoping we can get it before heavy rains come around. … It will take a lot of money to get them back in working order."
After the band's regular Tuesday night practice on June 25, Tyentyen Chen left her bagpipes unattended outdoors on the Simon Fraser University campus for several minutes while she walked over to a store to get a drink. She was shocked when she returned to find the bagpipes gone.
"She was very, very upset with herself," says Mr. Watt, "She said: 'I know better; I shouldn't have left them unattended.'"
The Grainger & Campbell bagpipes are worth between $1,500 and $2,000, including the black Samsonite carry-on suitcase and reeds.
But in the tight-knit piping community, it will be impossible to sell them, Mr. Watt says – and certainly they would never sell for anything close to that value.
Ms. Chen's ability to participate in the Highland Games in Kamloops this weekend is in doubt. While she may be able to borrow a set of bagpipes, there's nothing like playing your own instrument, Mr. Watt says.
"We're talking an instrument that takes two to three years minimum to be able to play. … It takes two to three years to build up stamina, enough wind, to keep the instrument going. I've seen people almost pass out trying to blow it in about 30 seconds – including myself," said Mr. Watt, who is a drummer. "So it's not really of much value to anyone else."
The bagpipes were stolen just as the competitive bagpipe season is heating up, with the more senior SFU Pipe Band travelling to Glasgow next month to participate in the World Pipe Band Championships.
Mr. Watt is aware of three other cases of stolen bagpipes in the Lower Mainland in the past 10 years – all of which were recovered. In one case, the bagpipes were found abandoned along the side of a road after the media publicized the theft. Another set was recovered by RCMP in a closet at a grow-op.