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A major burglary crippled one of Oregon's best-known and loved nonprofits; then came hope..followed by a letdown

DAVID F. ASHTON - At a previous Oregon Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony fundraiser, organization co-founder Terry Currier holds up a guitar signed by Peter Frampton that was being auctioned to help pay for student scholarships. Starting on Sunday, February 20, when a Public Storage facility at 1620 N.E.Sandy Boulevard, was burglarized, it's been weeks of "lows", a "high", and then another big "low" for those who volunteer their time for the nonprofit Oregon Music Hall of Fame (OMHoF).

The organization was renting one of the large lockers there, and they discovered on that date that a considerable amount of memorabilia, dozens of valuable guitars, and other commemorative items had been stolen.

"It was a real blow to us when 70 autographed guitars were stolen from the storage unit," said the Hall of Fame's co-founder and Education and Scdeholarship Director, Janeen Rundle. The whole purpose of the annual ceremony and concert at the Aladdin Theater in Brooklyn is to raise the money to fund music education in Oregon.

"These guitars were autographed by famed musicians, and held for auction to raise money for our music education and scholarship programs," Rundle continued. "They included guitars signed by The Monkees, George Clinton, Lucinda Williams, Arlo Guthrie, and Portugal The Man. There were also guitars signed by each of our annual Hall of Fame inductees, to go on display at the Youth Music Project's Oregon Music Hall of Fame permanent exhibit in West Linn."

Although the nonprofit's main fundraiser, and annual induction ceremony, at Brooklyn's Aladdin Theater isn't until October 8th, its volunteers have been scrambling to come up with some replacement guitars for auction at the event – and, at the same time, hoping that the pilfered guitars would be found by police.

"The money we raise at our annual ceremony and concert funds at least four scholarships for college-bound students, as well as paying for our 'Music in the Schools Program' which brings music assemblies to K-8 schools across the State of Oregon that do not offer music education," Rundle explained – adding that, since 2007, the Oregon Music Hall of Fame has granted 63 scholarships for music studies, totaling $115,500.

Police announce burglary suspect

On Tuesday, March 15, the Portland Police Bureau announced that after weeks of "exhaustive investigation", their Central Precint Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) had developed burglary suspect information on the case, and that earlier that day they had applied for, and were granted, a warrant to search a residence in Fairview, east of Gresham, and two storage units in Gresham.

There, officers recovered several hundred items of suspected stolen property, many of them guitars – and they'd learned of a third location in Damascus which apparently held additional stolen items, including 30 guitars and almost two dozen items of music memorabilia, including signed posters, photos, and album covers, which the police naturally believed must belong to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

Arrested was 40-year-old Eric Michael Lamberton. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 9:02 a.m. on charges of Burglary in the First Degree and Aggravated Theft in the First Degree – with additional charges expected as the investigation continued. He also faced numerous charges associated with other cases, including the theft of a piece of industrial equipment worth $20,000, the owner of which had identified it as his. At present, Lamberton is lodged in the MCDC in lieu of $148,000 combined bail, but he is not at present charged with the theft of the guitars and music memorabilia.

Then, a letdown

That turn of events came after Rundle and others at the Hall of Fame looked over the trove of recovered music memorabilia. Rundle told THE BEE, "We had high hopes, but none of it was ours." The police were stunned at that news, since no similar major theft of guitars and music memorabilia has been reported anywhere in the Northwest so far. The Hall of Fame is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen guitars and other items.

DAVID F. ASHTON - This topographic guitar, shaped like the State of Oregon, is just one of the guitars stolen from the Oregon Music Hall of Fames storage locker. Youd certainly remember this one if you saw it! "Central NRT is asking for the public's help in identifying the owners of this recovered stolen property," said Portland Police spokesperson Lt. Nathan Sheppard shortly afterward. "We ask, as Central NRT continues to investigate, that anyone who recognizes the guitars, the memorabilia, or other items, please contact us through – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Or, you can send an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Oregon, and perhaps receive an additional reward of up to $2,500 cash for information; go to their website – www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=823#.

Meantime, for more information about the nonprofit Oregon Music Hall of Fame, here's their website – www.omhof.org


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