Photo by From 10 under 20 contest
Anthony Cullins: “I am heartbroken.”
On February 28, Anthony “Fallbrook Kid” Cullins’ music gear was stolen. I reached out to the blues rock guitar player and as of press time, I haven’t receive a response; his social media tells the story on how everything went down. I spoke to the recipient of one of the stolen items.
“I am heartbroken,” Cullins posted on Facebook February 29, “last night some gang members in Vista, CA, off of East Vista Way before the Barnicle gas station, stole my …. amp and guitar. I would appreciate this being spread all over. Please! I need all the help I can get.”
Gibson Firebird guitar
The items that were stolen were a vintage Gibson Firebird guitar – a similar Firebird guitar is selling on the Jimmy Wallace site for $10,950; a 1958 Magnatone Troubadour amp — which Guitar Center sells for about $1499; and a pro leather gig bag.
The young guitar player won the 2018 “10 under 20” contest at the Dallas International guitar festival when he was 17 years old; he’s influenced by funk, R&B, the blues, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton.
“Pass this around people,” Aaron commented underneath Cullins’ photos. “Get a good look at this stuff. If you’re out and about and you’re near a pawn shop: take a peek. This is rare stuff and isn’t easy to replace. Same with any store that takes used gear and of course, [or] online. Anthony is a bad dude and he needs his tools!”
Cullins’ initial post was shared over 13,000 times on Facebook.
On February 29, Cullins posted a follow-up meme that read “Tri-City Pawn got my guitar! However no gig bag and Magnatone amp. The search is still on, let's make this as hot as possible!” — in red/orange/yellow background.
John S. is a North Park keyboard player that saw and shared Cullins’ posts.
“I was scrolling through my feeds,” he said, “and I stopped on the his bright reddish colored meme; had he not used a red background, I would’ve probably passed it up.”
“…. besides, who the fuck would steal a man’s tools to make money and feed himself. It’s not like those items can be re-sold without our music community not noticing them on Craigslist or Offer Up or whatever site. Scum, bro.”
“I was already right about where these things may end up,” said Shane underneath the Cullins meme, which garnered 466 reactions. “I said they would stay in their comfort zone, and if it ended up at a pawnshop, it would be between Vista and Oceanside. The other stuff is probably at other pawnshops relatively near to that pawnshop. They are trying to spread the items around, because they think it will throw off the police. But they won't go too far. They’ll be too lazy, trying to get the money quick. And the pawnshop should have the name of whoever sold them that guitar. And that person knows where the other stuff is.”
On March 10, I reached out to Tri-City Pawn, Inc., and spoke to Steven, the owner. “I’m just glad the kid got hit guitar back,” he said.
“The thing is, a lot of the people misunderstood a comment that he and I made and turned it into like 'I was in on it,' and even received a dozen negative reviews on Facebook, Google, and Yelp. People misread things and things got misinterpreted.”
“As a pawnbroker, I’m the last person to be in on it, I’m seriously regulated — we work directly with the police, there’s no way I would be in on it.”
On the PawnGuru website’s “Pawning a Musical Instrument: Pawning versus Selling” page, it breaks down how most pawnshops in our county operate, including Steven’s store. “There is a difference between pawning and selling, even though you can do both at a pawn shop. When you are pawning a instrument, you are giving it to a pawn shop as collateral for a loan. The loan amount is the value your instrument is appraised at by the pawnbroker.”
“Mike, you can also sell it yourself for more on eBay,” continued John, the keyboard player from North Park, “we’ve seen some stolen shit on that site before, and the [sellers’] accounts were later suspended.”
On a quick eBay search: a 1964 version of Cullins’ guitar is selling for $18,999 and the same make/model amp is live for $2000.
“For sure you get a higher premium for your instruments on eBay, because you cut out the middleman [pawn shops] and you sell direct to the consumers,” John explained. “The downside with selling on websites like eBay, is you run the risk of the buyer claiming your instrument was damaged in transit, then you have to go through an insurance claim assuming you insured the instrument, and then prove that you packed the instrument with sufficient bubble wrap and peanuts, or foam — but that’s hopefully if the buyer on the other side saved the packing material and took photos of the packaging as it was unwrapped. If you cannot prove that you sufficiently packed your guitar or keyboard, you’re 'assed-out' on the insurance money, bro.”
How much does John pay to ship a guitar from San Diego to the deep South, where blues music is said to have originated?
“I usually ship smaller keyboards, but I think it’ll run about $100-$125 to ship a guitar to Georgia, from our Normal Heights Adams Avenue post office, and that’s assuming your box is within the 108-inch threshold. Shipping guitars is expensive because they are fragile and need lots of bubble wrap — one crack in the case, and there goes the sound.”
The eBayer selling the 1964 Gibson Firebird is charging $275 to ship the guitar to San Diego. As of press time, Cullins hasn’t updated the status of his Magnatone amp, nor replied to my recent comment on his Facebook post. His amp is not listed on our Craigslist or OfferUp apps.
Steven, the pawnshop owner, said that he got most of those negative reviews removed from the Yelp, Google, and Facebook apps.
“People said that I knew this person [the thief] which in fact I don’t, and people tried to make it seem like I resold it to [Cullins] which I never did. California state law requires that the person [Cullins] pays back whatever the pawnshop puts out, and that’s just state law, I don’t make a dime off of it.”