HAMILTON, N.J. (WPVI) --Thieves have targeted a Mercer County business owner, making off with at least fifty guitars and other valuable musical instruments.
Frank Russo owns The Music Box in Hamilton, Mercer County, where he shared his love of guitars and instruments for 36 years. Over that time he has amassed an impressive collection of vintage instruments - around 125 of them.
But that collection was decimated when at least fifty items were stolen from his home. Guitars, amplifiers and other gear went missing, not just from his house but a packed storage building he has next door - items he says are worth between $80,000 and $90,000.
Russo says, "They are gone. I have to except the fact that they're gone. Maybe I'll be lucky and I'll get a crack and get one or two pieces back, but I'm trying to accept the fact that I may never get anything back."
As he picks through instruments not taken, Russo says thieves focused on valuable vintage guitars: Fenders, Gibsons and Marshalls.
One of the missing items is a 1953 Fender Esquire valued at $15,000.
Russo tells us, "They didn't go for the cool factor, they went for the dollar factor. They knew what the things were worth or they researched them."
The theft is taking a financial toll on Russo.
"This was basically my retirement plan. I have no 401(k), I have no pension plan. My plan was to sell over the next few years, sell them off slowly. Put them in a separate account so I would have a little stash," he explained.
Hamilton police took fingerprints from the property. They are investigating the theft and have a detective following up on some leads in the case.
Russo says, "You know what? If I got a lead and could get my stuff back I wouldn't prosecute. I don't know why, this stuffs worth more to me than seeing somebody prosecuted for it. They have to live in their own hell."
Meanwhile, Frank Russo and his friends have been monitoring websites where the missing guitars and equipment might show up.
"I just feel like this stuff is all sitting someplace either waiting for it to cool off because we've been checking all the sites. It's not showing up anywhere. I want my stuff back more than anything. It's way more than the money."
Those guitars, amps and the rest of the gear mean the world to Russo. If you have any information, you are urged to contact Hamilton Township Police.