A thief with a lengthy history of stealing from airport baggage carousels who made headlines earlier this year after stealing a rare Indian guitar from O’Hare International Airport pleaded guilty to theft charges Wednesday and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Anthony Hargrove, 59, had a rap sheet spanning five decades, including at least 14 arrests in the last 16 years of luggage thefts from O'Hare, Midway Airport and the Greyhound bus station in the South Loop, records show.
But his long record didn’t garner much attention until February when Hargrove snatched a black, velvet-lined case containing a Mohan veena guitar –a hybrid of a sitar and guitar – that belonged to Canadian musician Harry Manx.
Manx lamented the loss on Facebook, a post that quickly went viral, drawing millions of views.
“I feel as though I’ve lost a good friend,” Manx, who said he had played the guitar nearly every day for more than 20 years, wrote at the time.
The guitar theft had been captured on video surveillance cameras, so Chicago police waited to see if Hargrove would return. Three days later, he showed up wearing the same clothing he had during the guitar theft, police said. He pushed a cart to the US Airways baggage carousel, placed four bags onto the cart and covered the luggage with a jacket, according to a police report. Officers arrested him as he tried to leave.
At the time, Hargrove was on parole for a 2011 theft conviction for stealing luggage at Midway. That time he had been seen pushing a wheelchair loaded with stolen luggage through a CTA pedway, according to the arrest report.
Court records shed no light on why Hargrove had taken to stealing luggage from airport terminals. A divorced high school graduate with three adult children, he told authorities he did not struggle with alcohol or drug use. According to the former Marine, he worked on-and-off at a Harvey auto body shop.
Manx said Wednesday he had mixed feelings about Hargrove going to prison but recognized he “had made his bed and needed to sleep in it.”
“This is a good day for everyone whose bags mysteriously walk away from airports,” he said.
Manx said he will be playing in Australia, Canada and Europe this year but has no plans to travel out of O’Hare. However, he intends to come back to Chicago eventually.
“I get letters from people in Chicago asking me to go there so they can prove how much they love me,” he said with a laugh.
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