Rare stolen sousaphone returned to Tacoma owner

KING 5's Amy Moreno reports.

UPDATE: A happy ending for a Tacoma man whose rare musical instrument was stolen from his garage.

In July, Pat Van Haren offered a reward for help finding a rare sousaphone he spent years restoring.  On Wednesday, he was reunited with his instrument, thanks to a generous neighbor.

"It's a weird little story, but it turns out a gentleman two blocks from my house managed to acquire it in the underground to the market and then called me to say that he had recovered it," writes Van Haren. "(He) asked me if I'd like to come get it and I did and I have it and I'm very very happy."

Previously published story on July 15, 2017:

A Tacoma man is begging for the public's help after a rare musical instrument was taken from his garage. 

Pat Van Haren spent the last several years restoring a sousaphone.

It’s not worth a lot monetarily, but you can’t put a price tag on what it means to Van Haren, who remembers vividly how he gave the horn a new musical life.

“It looked like a dirty muffler before I started working on it,” Van Haren explained.  He first saw the instrument sitting on a shelf at a school in Ilwaco in 2013.

“I asked the teacher, ‘What is that?’ She said, ‘It's an old horn we don't use anymore.'  It took another two years to buy it through school surplus."

It was barely playable but Van Haren didn’t mind.  He was smitten.

“It was just such a unique horn: the brushed nickel body, the gold wash bell,” he said.

Love fueled his labor for the next several years as he took the instrument apart and rebuilt it. 

“I took all the dents out and then decided to rebuild the valves,” he said.

Last week, Pat returned from a vacation and discovered somebody stole his sousaphone.  He had it in his garage at the time and nothing else was taken.

“Why would anybody take my sousaphone?  What the hell are you going to do with a sousaphone?”

He filed a police report and he’s offering a $500 reward to get it back.  He’s hopeful they will, somehow, be reunited.  If not, he hopes somebody will love it and play it the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

“I just hope that it did find another musical life not that it's not scrapped,” he said.  “I can't accept the fact that it got melted down and made into something else.”

If you have information on the sousaphone, you can contact Van Haren by email at pvhtacoma@gmail.com.

© 2017 KING-TV


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