Austin musician gets rare guitar back after 6 years

If you have ever had something stolen, don't give up on getting it back.

Just ask one Austin man.

A rare guitar, stolen almost 6 years ago, is now back in the hands of its owner.

He speaks with FOX 7 exclusively about how the Austin Police Department never gave up searching.

Walt Wilkins never thought he would play this guitar again, but on Tuesday he got that chance. "It was made from an old Army and Air Force barracks in Marfa, TX. So there's only three guitars like this. My understanding at the time from Gibson, is that they gave one to Willie Nelson, one to Dan Rather and I got the third one," says Walt Wilkins, songwriter.

Wilkins is a songwriter.

He's written music for Texas country favorites Pat Green and Cory Morrow.

It was December of 2009 when he was performing at Saxon Pub in South Austin.

Wilkins set the guitar down by the stage and when he returned, it was gone.

"Oh it ruined Christmas for me that year. It was awful. I felt responsible for it, that I had left it alone. I was pretty mad. I spent that whole night, from probably midnight until four in the morning, diving into dumpsters all over South Austin," says Wilkins.

Wilkins was attached to the guitar because of how unique it was.

He played it every day for three years.

But after six months of searching for it, Wilkins gave up hope.

Until, this past weekend.

"I frequent pawn shops, Craigslist and those type of places. I just kind of have a running list of rare, unusual guitars that might not be with their rightful owners. This particular guitar, I've been looking for almost six years and happened to see it pop up on Craigslist," says Detective Jay Swann, Austin Police Department.

Detective Swann alerted other department officials, they set up a purchase from the seller and the guitar was recovered.

The next step was to get it back to Wilkins.

A moment that had been long-awaited.

"It was incredibly exciting when I got to return the guitar to Walt this morning. Both of us had tears in our eyes," says Swann.

"To see it in person was great, to pick it up was just awesome. My wife and I were amazed, like if it was Christmas. In fact, we brought it home and didn't even change the battery. We plugged it into an amp and it works," says Wilkins.

Wilkins says the guitar is in the same condition.

He's grateful that after all these years, APD kept his instrument in the back of their mind.

"I feel very, very fortunate that this got back. That they knew how important this is to someone who makes a living doing this, and took care of it," says Wilkins.

This type of recovery gives hope to the thousands of others who get property stolen every year.

Here's a breakdown according to statistics from the Austin Police Department:

In 2013 there were 41,305 property crimes and 5,046 cases were cleared that year.

In 2014 there were 36,706 and 4,932 cases were cleared that year.