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STOLEN CSUN PIANO TURNS UP ON EBAY.

Byline: Lisa M. Sodders Staff Writer

NORTHRIDGE - The combined efforts of a former student, a professor and police at California State University, Northridge, have led to the recovery of a one-of-a-kind electric piano that was stolen from the campus during the chaos that followed the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

Four months after the former student spotted the purloined piano for sale on eBay, CSUN police Detective Sgt. Dana Archer returned it on Thursday to campus music professor Joel Leach.

``This was a prized instrument, and when they took it, it really hurt us,'' Leach said.

George Stone, 40, a former CSUN student, spotted the Fender Rhodes Mark V electric piano on the Internet auction site and recognized it as the one he had modified more than a dozen years ago.

``I knew immediately. That is precisely the piano I built, because of the photos,'' said Stone, now a music professor himself at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. ``Those are the exact electronics I put in, my very handwriting on the cable ties.''

Stone was a 22-year-old CSUN student in 1988 when he combined CSUN'S Fender Rhodes Mark V electric piano with an old Mark I to correct a wobbly stand and add electronic features to improve the sound. Both models were long out of production.

``It didn't really hold well (before it was modified). It collapsed on (singer-songwriter) Richard Carpenter when he came to a clinic at CSUN in 1986 and we were embarrassed.''

Stone made it ``better than it ever was,'' Leach said. ``We were so proud of it.''

After the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, a number of items were stolen from campus. Campus buildings were secured, but things still disappeared, including the 200-pound, two-piece piano, which had been placed in temporary storage.

Fast-forward to 2004.

Adam Ricards, 30, of Lawndale, who runs a band booking service, told prospective buyers that he was given the instrument in 2000, by a man who had a ``small apartment cluttered wall to wall with instruments.''

He speculated that the hybrid piano was some sort of rare prototype and praised its ``amazing sound.'' Prospective buyers inquired about the cost to ship the piano to London and France; the winning bid - from a Boston physician - was for $1,425.

Stone contacted Leach, who contacted campus police. Archer, in turn, contacted Ricards and reclaimed the piano.

``I was shocked,'' Ricards said. ``I had no idea (it was stolen), and it had already been bought and we used the money to pay the rent. Now we're out the $1,400, and (the buyer) is out the Rhodes.''

CSUN police are now trying to track down the man who gave the piano to Ricards.

Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663

lisa.sodders(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

CSUN police Detective Dana Archer, left, and music instructor Joel Leach on Thursday look over the electric piano stolen more than 10 years ago.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 28, 2005
Words:488
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