By Darlene Donloe
LOS ANGELES — Anthony Sheriff’s decked out F350 Ford pickup he uses to perform around Los Angeles as Drum Man, was stolen from in front of his home Dec. 3 and found on the railroad tracks on Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles three days later, stripped of its parts and expensive drum equipment.
“I have no words,” said Sheriff, who, admittedly is “still processing” what happened. “Words really can’t express how I feel right now. It’s been an emotional few days.”
Sheriff said it all began at 7 a.m. Dec. 3, as he exited his home to take his usual morning walk. He noticed the truck was not parked where he left it at 8:30 p.m. the night before on 129th Street in Hawthorne.
It had been stolen.
Heartbroken, he filed a police report and then posted a plea on Instagram for its return and for his followers to look out for the truck, which, when intact, is quite unique and easily identifiable.
It was outfitted with a seven-piece Mapex drum kit that includes nine Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, two dual 18-inch subwoofers, a mixer, sound equalizer, microphones, two 15-inch JBL monitor cabinet speakers, a 9,000-watt generator, lights, lasers and a fog machine. Sheriff estimated the cost of the equipment is upwards of $80,000.
“Can you guys please, please, please, please, please, put on your page any videos, any pictures that you guys may have of me and let them know that my truck has been stolen,” Sheriff pleaded in an Instagram video while trying to hold back tears.
When he first noticed the truck was missing, Sheriff said he initially “thought it had been towed by Hawthorne police.”
“They have towed my truck before,” said Sheriff, a father of three. “I called. They came out. They said they didn’t take it.”
On Dec. 6, at about 1 a.m., Sheriff received a call from the Hawthorne Police Department, informing him his truck had been found on the railroad tracks on Slauson in South Los Angeles.
“By the third day, when I hadn’t heard anything, I figured it was gone,” said Sheriff, who now has the damaged truck back, sans his drum equipment. “On Sunday, I could feel it in my body. I could feel what my truck was going through. I felt it was going through something dramatic. I couldn’t sleep.”
Sheriff said when he finally saw his truck, “everything was ripped off.”
“They stole the battery, broke the windshield, the hood is damaged and the paint job is scratched,” he said. “Looks like they took a screwdriver and punctured the ignition. I just put in a battery so I could drive it, but it’s going to take time to fully replace the equipment.”
For more than five years, Sheriff has been performing his high-energy drum shows on the bed of his truck for tips or at venues that paid for a one-man band. He said he has never had any trouble leaving his truck with the equipment on the street.
“I bolt everything down,” he said. “The drums were bolted down. Plus, with the other stuff, I’ve learned to trust in the community I live in because they know my story.”
Due to the theft, Sheriff said he had to cancel several gigs.
While the truck is insured, Sheriff said the equipment is not.
“When it comes to the value of all of the equipment, I’m out on a limb,” he said.
When thieves stole Sheriff’s truck, they not only stole his transportation, they stole his source of income.
“This is how I feed my kids,” he said. “This is how I feed my family. This is how I live. This is how I do me.”
Sheriff said losing his truck was like losing a loved one.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before in the almost six years I’ve been performing,” he said. “My truck means a lot more to me than some of my loved ones. It’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s deep. It’s painful. “I can’t sleep because my mind is constantly racing,” he added. “This was mentally disturbing. This was and is a sad situation.”
Sheriff, 34, said playing the drums is his therapy. For the last five years, he has utilized the streets of Los Angeles and the boulevards of Las Vegas as his open-air venues. He drives his truck around various areas of the city, playing impromptu pickup concerts that attract fans everywhere he goes.
He has played gigs in Barstow, Victorville and San Diego, at gas stations, parking lots, street corners and any other location he deems would be a good place to draw a crowd. Amassing quite a following, Sheriff, who appeared on Steve Harvey’s talk show in 2018, can usually be found in South Los Angeles and Inglewood.
Sheriff’s love affair with the drums began when he was 3 years old. Anything that was within his reach “got hit.”
“I would hit on anything in the house,” said the Los Angeles native. “Paint cans, buckets, trees. I’d hit anything to get that sound.”
By the time he was 10, Sheriff, who grew up in the church, said he had “really gotten good.”
During an interview last summer, Sheriff said, “I don’t know what I’d do without my drums. I play the drums to keep myself balanced. I let the drums speak to my heart. It’s like a therapy session. It keeps me alive.”
Sheriff has started a GoFundMe fundraiser to restore the truck and buy new equipment. The link is on his Instagram page — Sheriffdrumman.
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.