A man accused of trying to sell stolen guitars signed by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lonely Boys, Jeff Beck and Willie Nelson has been charged with theft by appropriation. Austin police said he threatened to destroy the instruments if he could not collect reward money for their return.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, police believe Esequiel Martinez, 53, knew the guitars had been stolen from a Discount Electronics store in the 9700 block of Manchaca Road on April 22, along with seven laptops, an electronic skateboard, a remote control airplane and a television.
The affidavit said police received a report from a Cash America Pawn shop the day after the robbery of a man trying to sell three guitars that may have been stolen.
A clerk there referred the man to a different store but took down his vehicle information to pass along to police.
The next day, the man, later identified by police as Martinez, called up the owner of Discount Electronics and told him he had the guitars but that he would destroy them if he did not get reward money that had been offered for information leading to their return.
The owner agreed to pay $2,500 for the instruments and met with Martinez at a PetSmart off Ohlen Road, according to the affidavit.
“(The owner) gave the suspect $2500 and recovered his stolen guitars,” the affidavit said. “The suspect told (the owner) that he bought the guitars from a “white boy” that was addicted to methamphetamine. The suspect told (the owner) that he would provide the name of the suspect for $600 more.”
Investigators tracked Martinez down and called him on May 2. During their telephone conversation, he told police he purchased the guitars at a flea market for $150 and admitted to trying to sell them to the pawn shop. He said he figured that they belonged to someone, the affidavit said.
According to the document, Martinez then became nervous and ended the conversation – or so he thought.
“Your affiant could still hear an open line,” the affidavit said. “Martinez then had a conversation in the background with another male and stated ‘f*** the police… ha.’ Martinez then talked about the burglary and seemed confident that it could not be solved because ‘there was no cameras or alarm system.’”
Martinez was already being held at the Travis County Jail on other charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and burglary when the new theft charge was filed this week.
Theft by appropriation is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
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