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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Stolen Pahinui guitars recovered

By James Gonser
Advertiser Central Bureau

By leaning on friends and connections in the music industry, musician Cyril Pahinui last week recovered the three guitars taken during a Sept. 2 burglary of his Waikele home.

The one-of-a-kind Mermer koa guitar played by musician Cyril Pahinui, center, was recovered last week after having been stolen from his Waikele town home Sept. 2. Pahinui is shown playing along with brothers Martin, left, and James Daniel "Bla" Pahinui; a bust of Gabby is at left.

Advertiser library photo • April 22, 2001

"He gets credit for solving his own case," said Police Det. Letha DeCaires. "When he got home he hit the road and made calls to all the people he knew and got his things back."

Burglars broke into Pahinui's town home while he was on a Mainland tour and made off with two RainSong graphite guitars and a Mermer koa guitar. A mandolin given to him by his late father, the legendary slack key guitar player Gabby "Pops" Pahinui, and a treasured clock were not stolen as feared, Pahinui said.

"When the guitars first got stolen, the most important thing to me was my wife's safety," Pahinui said. "Guitars can be replaced, wife cannot."

Pahinui said the koa guitar is unique, with its upper-body sound hole and hand-worked turquoise inlay.

He had a feeling it would show up somewhere.

"I started asking friends to help find them," he said. "Within a week, I heard someone was trying to sell them."

Pahinui's wife, Charmagne, said the nephew of a promoter friend had been approached to buy the guitars and called his uncle, who in turn called Cyril.

A meeting was set up and a young couple with a baby showed up.

"We have no idea who they were," Charmagne said. "They were really scared, but they returned the instruments."

Pahinui has his suspicions about who burglarized his home, but has asked police to close the case because the guitars were returned.

The couple have since improved the security system at their home and added air-conditioning so the house can be locked up tight.

"We've lived here 11 or 12 years and never been broken into. My neighbors are good people," Pahinui said. "If I find out who it is, I will probably have a talk with him. A good talk."

DeCaires said no rewards were paid out from CrimeStoppers, but she would like the public to know that sometimes stolen items are returned.

"In certain circumstances, people's influences can play a big part in solving a case," DeCaires said. "We want to let people know that sometimes you can get your things back."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 988-1383.