Ben Harper Grammy award stolen from shop; recovered by police

A Grammy award belonging to musician Ben Harper was returned after a Rancho Cucamonga man stole it from the Folk Music Center on June 2.

The theft occurred just before noon at the shop on the 200 block of Yale Avenue, according to Lt. Mike Ciszek of the Claremont Police Department. Stacy Gipson, 22, was arrested after a foot pursuit from police and music shop employee Jerry O’Sullivan.


Ellen Harper Verdries, owner of the Folk Music Center and Mr. Harper’s mother, told the COURIER that Mr. Gipson asked to take a picture of the Grammy, which was sitting on a shelf behind the counter.

“The fellow took a photo and lunged across the counter and grabbed it and ran out of the door,” Ms. Harper Verdries said.

Mr. O’Sullivan immediately chased the suspect, who ran out the door and up the street through Shelton Park.

“I saw him in the yard of a big house owned by the Colleges on the north corner of Bonita and College,” Mr. O’Sullivan said. “He looked really panicked, like he was scrambling.”

Eventually, officers found Mr. Gipson and arrested him. He initially gave a false ID to police, and was arrested for grand theft, giving false information to a police officer and for having three outstanding warrants, according to Lt. Ciszek.

The Grammy was later found in a black trash bag, still in good condition, and was returned to the music shop.

“I have to say, it was an emotional moment for me,” Ms. Harper Verdries said.

Mr. O’Sullivan said customers have asked to look at or take pictures of the Grammy in the past, though it wasn’t a frequent occurrance.

“I didn’t put it in [Mr. Gipson’s] hands, I had it on the counter and I was close to him but he just lunged,” he said.

Mr. O’Sullivan said that Mr. Harper arrived at the shop after the incident and picked up the Grammy. A picture of the trophy will be placed in the spot where the award once stood.

Matthew Bramlett


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