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Stolen guitar is home

John Watt’s one-of-a-kind Beatles memorabilia guitar is back on its stand in his downtown Medford office after a four-month absence.

The custom, handcrafted guitar, featuring images and text related to the Beatles’ platinum 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” was stolen from the second-floor office of JWA Public Affairs on Veterans Day.

A surveillance camera caught images of the bike-riding thief rolling down a Main Street sidewalk with a guitar draped over his back at 9:47 a.m. Nov. 11, 2017.

But neither the perpetrator nor the guitar were seen again — until Friday night, when a patrol officer spotted the guitar in an alley off Oakdale Avenue. A call to headquarters confirmed the guitar was stolen property.

Detective Tony Young called Watt Monday morning to inform him of the good news about the guitar.

“It’s in great shape,” Watt said. “It’s got a broken (G) string, so someone was playing it, or enjoying it at least for a little while. But it’s back now, and I’m so happy, I never thought I’d see it again.”

Watt displayed the Sgt. Pepper’s-themed guitar — hand-painted by local artist Dan Mish — in his office, along with a commemorative gold edition of the album. At first, police were certain an easily identifiable musical instrument such as the guitar would be quickly recovered. But days, then weeks passed with nothing turning up in pawn shops, on eBay or Craigslist.

A heartbroken Watt resigned himself to the likelihood he’d seen the last of his prized possession.

Whether the thief kept the guitar all along or it was touched by others is unclear.

“I suspect that somebody realized they weren’t going to be able to pawn it and thought they needed to get rid of it. Hopefully, it was just out that one night. I looked at the guitar, it’s in good shape, not weathered. A couple of scratches on it, but that just gives it some culture.”

Last year, Watt had bid on the second Beatles commemorative guitar produced by Mish for the Living Opportunities auction; the first was “Yellow Submarine”-themed.

“It looks like it’s been played a bit,” Watt said. “But I’m eternally grateful that they decided they needed to leave it alone, and it was recovered by MPD.”

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

John Watt holds his Beatles memorabilia guitar in his downtown Medford office Monday afternoon. Police found the guitar, which was stolen last year, in an alley off Oakdale Avenue. - Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune