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NC Music Icon’s Handgun Returned Over 43 Years After Theft

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Forty-three years is a long time to wait to recover stolen property, but that’s how long it took for a Madison County music legend.

On April 15, Sheriff Buddy Harwood presented Bobby Hicks with the gun that Hicks had lost in 1978 in Greensboro. Hicks is a Marshall resident and former fiddler with bluegrass music titan Bill Monroe.

Harwood returned the handgun, a Browning Hi-Power .9mm short cartridge, after a Greensboro Police Department detective called and told him of the find.

The weapon was identified at a pawn shop in Greensboro, according to Harwood.

“Bobby called and said, ‘Can you help me get this gun? I don’t want to drive to Greensboro,’ Harwood said. “So I called the Greensboro Evidence Section (PD) , and they said, ‘Sure, sheriff. We’ll get you the gun.

According to Harwood, when he called the GPD office to set up a meeting to get the gun transported to Madison County, he urged the staff receptionist to explore some of Hicks’ games, as she didn’t know him. .

“The woman answered the phone and I said, ‘You haven’t heard of Bobby Hicks? Why not google it. He has 10 Grammys. He has them in his house keeping his doors open,” Harwood said. “She said, ‘I’ll mail this gun to you, Sheriff.’ So I received it (April 14). You’re talking about a legend reclaiming a legend. This gun was made in the 1930s.”

While 43 years may seem like a long time to some, it wasn’t long enough for the local music legend to forget about the incident.

“I never forget anything that someone stole from me,” Hicks said. “I had it on the headboard of my bed. Whoever took it knew where it was. It was the only thing I was missing.”

While authorities are still investigating who broke into Hicks’ home and stole his gun, the musician said he suspects it was stolen by someone close to him.

“I had two adult Doberman claws in my house,” Hicks said. “It was one of the older houses, where the bottom half of the back door is wood, the top half is glass. They broke that window, and one of my Dobermans had glass in his fur. So it had to be someone I knew, who knew those dogs, because they would have eaten him.

According to the sheriff, the gun has a resale value of $600 to $700.

Hicks said he bought it for a lot less than that, though.

“I bought it for $20,” the 10-time Grammy winner said. “I was playing at a dance hall in Reno, Nevada. This guy was in there, and he was an alcoholic. He needed a drink, and he had no money. But he had this gun I didn’t know he had it until he offered it to me for anything I wanted to give him, I gave him a 20 dollar bill and put it in my pocket.

Harwood said the nearly 44-year period between the theft and his return speaks to the meticulous records of the firearms law enforcement uses.

“It was in 1978 that his house was broken into,” Harwood said. “Someone has kept good hot files all these years, because you have to validate them every 30 to 60 days. When you register a firearm, it is registered in what is called a hot file. Someone keeps good records in Greensboro.

With the gun in his possession, Hicks said he would return to his safe with his other guns.

Hicks said his animals would deter any potential intruders if someone tried to take it back from him again.

“I have three dogs in the house now,” he said.