Stolen: Dozens of string instruments used by underprivileged kids.
Alert detectives say they caught the thief, but recovering the instruments is the next challenge for the kids orchestra charity, who are facing the prospect of having to pay to recover its own property.
This week, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Jeremy Voisine, who’s charged with three cases of burglary, as well as possession of cocaine and failing to return a rental car.
With orchestra programs limited in the schools, the 25-year old Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County offers the opportunity to learn to play and perform. The organization welcomes all, even kids who may not be able to afford an instrument.
“So we’ve made the orchestra available to every kid,” said Stephen Gebeloff, board chair of the Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County.
Recently, Gebeloff learned the organization had 45 string instruments valued at $35,000 stolen from a storage unit in West Boca — instruments specifically purchased for needy kids.
“Your blood boils at first and you try to make sense of it,” he said.
As Palm Beach County detectives investigated this theft and another at the same storage facility, they learned the stolen items had been pawned.
Detectives returned to the storage business on Oct. 1 to follow up.
That’s when the sheriff’s office says detectives encountered the man seen on surveillance pawning the stolen goods. They said he was loading even more items into a car.
The arrest report indicates Jeremy Voisine ultimately admitted he was “responsible for committing three burglaries” at the storage complex. The report says Voisine even walked the facility with detectives, pointing out the separate units he hit.
Gebeloff said he’s thankful to the sheriff’s office for the arrest. But now the next hurdle — getting the instruments back.
“I’m researching this issue, but I’ve been told we may have to purchase back our own instruments,” said Gebeloff, who's also an attorney.
A possibility that seem unfathomable.
And Gebeloff said he’s not even sure what condition he’ll find the instruments.
“He would have had to toss them over a 10-foot fence to get them, you know, out of the storage unit,” he said. “These are not bowling balls. They are violins and they are delicate.”
Gebeloff said Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County has around 175 kids in the program. The participants range in age from six to 18.
The Youth Orchestra’s next performance is a holiday concert, Dec. 15 at Boca Raton Community High. You can find more information on the organization's website.