“If anyone tries to sell it, I will certainly know about it,” says uilleann-pipe player Tim Foley, whose instrument was stolen on September 6. “There’s a lot of eyes and ears on the lookout there.”

Foley, who plays for local Celtic fusion band Skelpin, had left his equipment in his car overnight rather than bring it inside a home in La Jolla where he was house-sitting. The next morning he found his car window smashed. A guitar amp and his pipes — which were in a “black, hard-shell, electric-guitar-looking case” — were taken. The thieves left behind his iPod, $1000 worth of microphones, and a Martin acoustic guitar. Foley isn’t sure if he was targeted.

“I had just come from a show, so you never know,” he says. “I’m thinking they thought they were stealing an electric guitar and didn’t know what they actually took. My fear is that they tossed the pipes in a dumpster somewhere.”

The loss hits harder than most thefts because of the relative rarity of the instrument.

“There’s only 3 of us in San Diego that play,” says Foley. “In Southern California, there might be close to 20 players.” The musicians have banded together as the Uilleann Pipers Club of Southern California. He’s hopeful that another member will be able to find him a used replacement set. While Skelpin continues to record a new album, Foley is using a borrowed chanter (the part of the pipes that makes the melody) from a fellow club member. To get a new set of pipes will cost approximately $5000 and a lot of patience.

“You have to contact a maker and arrange to have one made. Not only could it take nine months to get a set constructed, you might find yourself on a waiting list.” According to Foley, the best makers can have a list ten years long.

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