Baltimore Rock Opera Society Says Burglar Stole Tools from Shuttered Bell Foundry Building

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The Bell Foundry building in 2013, photo by Tyler Merbler

Weeks after the Baltimore Rock Opera Society lost its workshop, practice and band rehearsal spaces, the group now says some of their equipment was stolen from the vacant Bell Foundry building late Monday evening.

A spokesman for the group said they discovered the Bell Foundry had been burglarized last night after spotting a broken window and “signs of forced entry.” Inside, thousands of dollars’ worth of tools were missing from their old first-floor space, including:

  • A Husky brand 20-gallon air compressor;
  • a Porter Cable brand metal chop saw, gray and black with a 14-inch blade;
  • a red Lincoln brand electric welder with a NASCAR decal;
  • a Milwaukee brand Sawzall reciprocating saw, with cord and a red case;
  • a black Craftsman router;
  • a blue Ryobi brand bench grinder;
  • an accompanying blue Ryobi brand Band Saw;
  • and a black Craftsman drill press.

Baltimore Rock Opera Society director Aran Keating said they reported the burglary to police around 12:30 a.m. Shortly after, an individual notified the group that he had purchased some of the stolen tools from someone at the nearby Hess gas station, located at Charles Street and Lafayette Avenue. Some of the stolen items have since been returned, the spokesman said.

When members of the nonprofit rock opera group, known also as BROS, set to repairing the damaged window at the Bell Foundry building, their suspected thief showed up and began yelling and accusing them of stealing from him, the spokesman said.

“He is a regular in the neighborhood and somebody that is known to us,” he added.

Det. Nicole Monroe of the Baltimore Police Department confirmed that police responded to the call shortly midnight. Police didn’t have any additional information available about the burglary or the suspect.

This incident is the latest in a series of blows to the BROS organization that have inhibited their ability to produce their epic rock opera shows. In early December, authorities condemned the Bell Foundry space, home to dozens of artists and their working spaces, due to issues ranging from unsafe conditions to unlawful removal of ceiling beams. For four years, BROS had built up a space on the first floor where they practiced and constructed sets and decorations.

Then, last week, the Fire Marshal’s Office condemned the Studio 14 building on N. Franklintown Road in West Baltimore, where the BROS band had been rehearsing for three years. The building, a warehouse converted into rehearsal and recording spaces, was shuttered due to permit violations, the owner confirmed. A sign on the door outside indicates it will remain closed for at least a month while the owner secures the permits to reopen.

A fire department spokesman didn’t return several messages requesting comment about the closure of Studio 14.

Shortly after they and dozens of others were booted from the Bell Foundry, BROS launched a fundraising campaign to obtain their own permanent space. So far, they’ve raised $20,000 and have held numerous fundraisers around the city. Their next one is set for this Saturday at the Sidebar downtown.

Aran Keating, artistic director of BROS, said issues like the recent burglary are a major reason why the group is raising money to obtain their own “forever home.”

“It’s just another example of why we need to get out from under the thumb of other people and get into a space that we control,” he said, “a space that will be safe and we know that we’re not going to have to deal with problems caused by neglectful landlords.”

In the meantime, BROS is working to get its missing tools back. Anyone with information can call Joe Martin, the group’s headquarters operations captain, at 716-361-6320. They can also call the Baltimore Police Department at (410) 396-2525.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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