BURLINGTON, N.C. — Three banjos valued at a total of $17,000 were found Thursday and returned to the store from which they were stolen.
The day before, Burlington police said a man stole the three instruments from Lowe Vintage Instrument Company in downtown Burlington.
Lowe Vintage General Manager Will Lowe said he was the only employee in the store at the time. He said he was helping a man at the register when he noticed another man near the exit grab three banjos and run off.
"My adrenaline was pumping," Lowe said. "I was angry, obviously."
Lowe said he now believes that the customer he was assisting was an accomplice in the burglary, and was used as a distraction. Burlington police confirmed they are investigating that as a possibility.
The stolen banjos were found because, according to Burlington police, the suspect sold them the same day to an auction house in Greensboro.
Lowe said a worker at that auction house called him — not realizing the banjos were stolen goods, but instead thinking that Lowe might be interested in buying them for his store.
Lowe said two of the banjos sustained minor cosmetic damage, and another "significant cosmetic damage."
Burlington police have not arrested or named any suspects, but said they have good leads thanks to one Good Samaritan.
FOX8 spoke to the gentleman, who asked us not to identify him, as he said he did not need any recognition or attention.
"I was coming out of the barber shop and a guy came flying around the corner with three banjos," he said. "It didn't look right, and I can't stand a thief."
The man wrote down the license plate number of the car the man drove away in, and provided that to police.
"It shows you that for all the crappy people out there who are going to pull one over on you, there are still good people who are going to help you out," Lowe said.
Burlington police said the suspects sold two vintage guitars to the Greensboro auction house along with the banjos. Records now reveal those guitars were stolen in Concord Tuesday.