Village of Menomonee Falls — A man wearing a puffy winter coat with shaggy hair and thick glasses walked out of Wondersound Music at N89W16744 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls on Monday, Dec. 12, with one of the most expensive items in the store stashed under his clothing.
One of the store's music teachers noticed the man outside as he pulled the guitar from under his clothes and hauled it into his car; police were soon called to the scene.
At a major retailer, a theft like this may not affect the company's bottom line by much, but for the local music store, the nearly $500 Fender Telecaster guitar not only risked the company's livelihood, but owner Jeff Holmes said it like was a personal attack on his home.
"It amounts to someone breaking in your house and pulling something off the walls," Holmes said. "The walls of the store are the same color as my living room at home. The feeling of the store is like you’re in my house — you feel welcomed. You put all that together and it really adds an element of personal hurt to it.”
Jeffrey Salczenko of Wauwatosa was apprehended by Menomonee Falls Police during the last week of December after he pawned the guitar at Pawn America in West Allis. Holmes will get to put the guitar back on his wall for sale in about one month, but for now, it's being held as evidence in the case.
"The detectives told me the guy stole it was out of work from Wauwatosa," Holmes said. "He got a loan of $100 for the guitar. When he brought it home, he told his girlfriend he raised money by selling things. The guy actually signed his name and gave all his information at the pawn shop. It was easy to get ahold of him once police found the guitar and got the information from the shop.”
Holmes had installed video surveillance in the store a couple months prior to the theft. He was able to take a screenshot of the man on video.
He posted the image to his Facebook account, and it quickly went viral.
Nearly 500 members of the music and Menomonee Falls community shared the post on their personal pages in an effort to catch the suspect.
Residents scouted Craigslist and other buy/sell sites to see if the same guitar was for sale. They posted words of support and disappointment over the theft that impacted them on a personal level.
“It was incredible how people stepped up, and I think because it was a family business — unlike Guitar Center — I think they felt it was personal," Holmes said. "We have hundreds of families that come in every week to take lessons and even just the casual shoppers that visit us just felt personally attacked by this. They felt bad that it happened because I own everything in that store."
Holmes plans to put the guitar back on the wall of his 'home' as soon as he can.