JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 68-year-old custodian at Jacksonville International Airport lost and found found a $2,500 guitar left behind a seat near the Southwest airlines lost and found baggage claim area on Christmas Day and took it, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Ike Pernell was arrested that night and charged with grand theft.
According to the arrest report, video surveillance shows him moving the professional instrument to the loading deck, then later putting it in his vehicle before coming back inside to clock out.
The Gibson Songwriter Deluxe was returned to its owner, Deva Blanchard, of Gainesville, who reported accidentally leaving the professional instrument he’d owned for years in the baggage area Tuesday when he arrived from San Francisco.
“I had been sick for some days with a head cold and throat cold and all that,” Blanchard told News4Jax. “I got all of my things; my ride is a little bit late. I sat there, waiting, and sat the guitar behind the seat, and this was just one of my instruments. When it came time to leave, I accidentally left my guitar behind the seat.”
He didn’t realize it was missing until a couple of hours later when he arrived back in Gainesville and was unloading his luggage.
After first being told by people at the airport that there was nothing they could do, they passed Blanchard to the night supervisor of the airport police, Officer Ike Brown.
“He said, ‘Listen, just call me back in about five minutes and I’ll tell you what’s up,’” Blanchard said of the conversation. “I called him back in about five minutes, and he had already found someone who witnessed one of the airport employees taking the guitar but didn’t turn it in to lost and found.”
Airport procedure and protocol requires found property be turned over to police.
Brown told Blanchard to call back again, and when he did, he was asked if he wanted the good news or the bad news.
Blanchard with Officer Brown”He said, ‘Well, the good news is I found your guitar, and the bad news is someone took it,’” Blanchard said. “It’s Christmas night. I felt bad. I was like, ‘What’s going to happen to this guy?’ He said, ‘He’s going to spend the night in jail.’”
Pernell actually spent two nights in jail before posting $1,503 bond and being released. He’s due back in court Jan. 16.
Blanchard said he has forgiven Pernell and is now friends with Ike Brown (pictured together), who tracked down the guitar within hours and ensured it safely back to its rightful owner.
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