Carmel Mountain guitar maker hit by thieves

Posted at 9:17 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 00:17:39-04

Owners of a local guitar manufacturing company reached out to their fan base for help in an international heist – and got results.

When it comes to crafting custom-built guitars, business is good.

“It's been amazing. We’ve never been busier,” said Jeff Kiesel, co-owner of Kiesel Guitars in Carmel Mountain.

But on Friday, he made a discovery that struck all the wrong notes.

“To have someone do this to you, you feel violated,” said Kiesel.

Kiesel said he took a closer look after an unusual spike in orders, and uncovered an international theft. In a case of payment processing fraud, some 16 custom-made guitars ended up in the hands of fake buyers who didn’t actually pay for them - all valued at about $40,000.

“Some of them ended up in Indonesia. That was the final destination,” said Kiesel.

Kiesel isn't revealing all the details with the FBI now involved in an ongoing investigation.

He did start his own probe of sorts by recording a message on Facebook Monday to his legion of fans worldwide, quickly reaching more than a million people.

He asked for help and put out the alert on the hot guitars, complete with serial numbers, posted for all to see.

“I was really surprised. I wrote off the guitars,” said Kiesel.

Then came a startling phone call with one of the suspects, who agreed to return some guitars.

“As of now, I’ve got six of them on their way back to me,” said Kiesel.

It’s a case partially solved by reaching out to those with a passion for custom-built guitars.                                    

“This guitar community is a tight knit one. You're not going to pull one over on this  community. You're going to get caught,” said Kiesel.

Kiesel says no customer information was compromised in the incident and they've implemented new security to prevent a repeat.

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