A Montreal musician has been reunited with her bass guitar after a day of sleuthing, and minimal help from local police.
Stéphanie Lemieux and her bandmates Masha Temoch and Katarina Cordos make up the rock band Death Proof.
The trio played a show in the Plateau Oct. 11, and afterward Lemieux left her bass guitar and other equipment in the backseat of her car, which the band uses to get around.
When she returned to the car the next morning, Lemieux's wallet and thousands of dollars' worth of gear, including her guitar and an amplifier, were gone.
"I called Kat and I was like, I don't know what to do, like what can we do?" Lemieux said.
They went to the police, who told them not much could be done.
That's when the three women, with the help of Cordos's fiancé, went to work.
"The whole day, we were so motivated and so together on this whole investigation. I'm so proud of us," Cordos said.
Tracking down the bass
Lemieux's wallet had a credit card inside. The bank gave them the exact time and location — a Couche-Tard — where the card had been used.
Cordos and her fiancé went to the dépanneur, and the cashier let them look at the surveillance video from the time the card was used.
As it turns out, the cashier recognized the people in the video, and gave Cordos their names.
In the meantime, Temoch had gone to the police station to file a police report. When she told officers what they had learned, she said they nodded, knowingly, but then said it would take two months for an investigation to begin.
"They told us we had higher chances of going back into the streets ourselves [to look] for our stuff," Temoch said.
They called several pawn shops throughout the day, and discovered the guitar had turned up at a shop north of downtown.
"We didn't expect to find it so soon and quite honestly, so easily," Temoch said.
Thanks, once again, to surveillance video, they were able to confirm the person who brought the guitar to the shop was the same person who used Lemieux's credit card.
However, they were told they had to buy it back because the pawn shop had no idea the gear was stolen.
The band set up a crowdfunding page, and raised the money to buy back Lemieux's gear and pay for repairs to her car window.
"I think it's a miracle. I can't believe it," she said.
The dépanneur employee told them the alleged thieves sleep at a park.
The bandmates went to that park around 9 p.m. and found them. They called the police, but the people fled before officers arrived.
A spokesperson for the Montreal police said they can't comment on specific cases. They said anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation — finding their stolen gear at a pawn shop — should contact the nearest police station.
The bandmates said they were told the police investigation could take months, despite the work they did.
They said their dealings with police were pleasant and they don't plan on filing a complaint about the way the case was handled. Cordos said the problem may be with police protocols more so than with individual officers.
But she did have a message for others.
"I think it's important that regular people … realize that unfortunately, the idea of justice is not as romantic in real life as it is in our heads," she said.
"If something bad happens to you, there aren't many avenues you can go down where there are people who can protect you."