40 Watt’s Gear Recovered, Suspect Arrested

What a week it’s been for the crew over at the 40 Watt Club! After over $20,000 worth of PA equipment was stolen from the building sometime in the wee hours last Friday morning, July 29th, not only was a suspect arrested the following Tuesday, but nearly 80% of the gear, which included numerous amplifiers, microphones and direct input boxes, was recovered.

Michael Simpson Wilson, 36, of Colbert, Georgia in Oglethorpe County (northeast of Athens) was arrested on August 1st after police searched his home and found pieces of the stolen equipment, much of which is engraved with the 40 Watt name. Wilson, a former sub-contractor for the club, became a suspect after selling some of the gear to a Guitar Center in Greenville, South Carolina, and was caught on surveillance footage. Seeing social media posts about the theft, employees at the store contact the Athens Guitar Center location.

“In a situation that could have ended quite differently, we’d like to make a point of thanking the sharp-eyed Manager of the Greenville, S. Carolina Guitar Center, Shaun Williams, who spotted the gear,” 40 Watt owner Barrie Buck posted on the club’s Facebook page on August 2nd. “Shaun then contacted his friend, Zachary Thigpen, Manager of the Athens Guitar Center, who in turn called me Saturday morning. [Athens-Clarke County] Detective Paul Davidson then took the lead and resolved the mystery.”

Several notable musicians with Athens ties stepped up to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perp. Mike Mills (ex-R.E.M.), Cracker’s David Lowery (husband of 40 Watt booker Velena Vego) and Jason Isbell (formerly of Athens-based band Drive-By Truckers) pledged $5,000 each toward the quest and helped spread the word. Additionally, the Drive-By Truckers and the Georgia Theatre donated PA gear to the 40 Watt so they could operate over the weekend.

“Clearly, this guy picked the wrong place to burglarize, and the wrong town, too,” Buck continued. “You just don’t mess with the Athens, GA music scene… Thanks again everyone, and see you at the show.”

UPDATE: While out on bond, the suspect Michael Wilson killed himself on August 3rd at his home in Oglethorpe County, authorities said. A note that was found at the scene indicated that the arrest and charges against him were the reason he chose to take his life.