Ben Hardy was heartbroken when thieves hit his home over Thanksgiving. But what hurt most-- they stole an autographed Fender guitar given to his dying brother in the 1990s by the rock band Pearl Jam.
"It's not about the monetary value," Hardy told us on Dec. 8. "This guitar means more to my family than anything."
But just last week-- some good news. Police called to say they raided a Burlington house and found the guitar.
"That alone was sort of a miracle to me," Hardy said. "It was an enormous sense of relief."
There was one problem though.
"It had been partially dismantled and the individual who had it at the time had scrubbed the autographs off," Hardy said.
WCAX News covered the stolen guitar story and so did The Associated Press. The story went national. That's when members of Pearl Jam got wind of Hardy's loss.
"Yesterday, I got a knock on the door," Hardy said. "It was a FedEx guy and he hands me a package and I wasn't expecting a package and right away something was up."
The packing slip was from the State of Washington.
"My jaw dropped," Hardy said.
The package was from Pearl Jam.
"So, this is the new Fender Telecaster that Pearl Jam had sent out," Hardy said, showing off the guitar.
The band was so touched by his loss of not just the guitar, but his brother, they signed a new one with a note attached.
"We've been following the Telecaster's journey for the past few weeks," Hardy read. "We were thrilled to hear that the guitar was recovered, but we were saddened to see that it was far from its original condition. We know this will never replace Josh's original Telecaster and its sentimental value to your family, but we hope you can accept this enclosed gift in your brother's memory."
For Hardy, the note is just as valuable as the guitar.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What would your brother think of all this?
Ben Hardy: I think he would share all my sentiment, the power of positivity, I guess, and the capacity for goodness.
Hardy plans to play the new guitar as a symbol of the good people are capable of... he says that's what Josh would want.
When Hardy gets the original guitar back from police he plans to send it to his parents in New Hampshire.