MARTINEZ (KPIX 5) — The Homecoming parade is an annual tradition in the city of Martinez, but this year, the Martinez Junior High School band is missing a few thousand dollars’ worth of critical instruments.

Instrumental Music Director Julianne George said Friday morning when she opened the classroom, she and her students discovered three instruments were stolen, including a cello and a baritone saxophone. Three amps were also gone. Altogether, the items stolen are worth a few thousand dollars. The Homecoming performance is in two weeks.

“It’s heartbreaking, it’s almost as unfathomable as someone breaking into a church,” said George. “We’re a big family here and to have someone take something that touches children’s hearts is just almost inconceivable to me.”

George says Martinez Police investigated the scene and dusted for fingerprints. The music room showed no sign of breaking and entering, but it is connected to the auditorium.

“It affects us at the high school, my students were shocked, so upset when we talked about it Friday when we found out,” said Sara Stafford, Music Director at Alhambra High School. “This is the future of my program, too, these kids are coming up to me.”

Stafford says all the instruments were given to their programs by the community. The specialized pieces are hard to replace. It takes up to six months to order another baritone saxophone.

“Please just return it, even if it’s just dumping it at the school in the middle of the night, we just want it back,” said Stafford. “Honestly, we just want to give it back to our kids and give them that chance to play music. What we do is so special.”

The school building has an alarm system, but no security cameras that may have captured the theft.

The music directors hope the community will step up to support them if the instruments are not found or returned.