"When somebody can walk right up in your driveway and take something important to you away from you, it's pretty devastating."
URBANA — Candy Foster couldn't believe his eyes when he went out to get his News-Gazette on Valentine's Day morning and his van was not in his driveway.
"It's been sitting there for 10 years. I looked and I'm saying, 'I know I wouldn't have parked my van nowhere else.' I was just in total shock," the veteran musician said.
But it didn't take long for the 75-year-old leader of Candy Foster and Shades of Blue to realize that not only was his ride missing but so was "95 percent of everything I own, music-wise."
"A complete sound system, speakers and monitors, a box of about eight microphones, 10 or 15 cables, my music, all my charts, music stands, mike stands and a drum set," he recalled.
He estimated the value of the missing contents at between $4,000 and $5,000 — items not likely to be covered by insurance.
Foster said he got home from his "board meeting" with friends at Bunny's Tavern in downtown Urbana about 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 and parked his 2003 white Dodge Caravan in the driveway of the North Romine Street home where he's lived about 30 years with nary a problem.
He and his wife Beth heard nothing out of the ordinary that night or before 9 a.m. the next day, when he realized the van was missing.
Foster said police checked the driveway and could find no signs of forcible entry, like broken glass.
"It looked like they had a key and took it away," he said.
But Foster said there are only two sets of keys to the van and he has both. And he's almost certain he locked it.
"I have questioned myself over and over again. Ninety percent of the time I always punch the (lock) button," he said.
On windows on both sides are the words "Candy Foster and Shades of Blue," making the van recognizable. However, police have not had any calls about sightings or its recovery in the intervening week.
"The first two days I felt like I lost my best friend. You feel violated. The more you think about it, when somebody can walk right up in your driveway and take something important to you away from you, it's pretty devastating," he said.
On Wednesday, a member of the band started a web page on "Go Fund Me" asking for $3,000 to replace the stolen equipment. The link is: gofundme.com/7055e8 .
In the first 23 hours the site was active, more than $1,600 worth of donations in denominations, ranging from $5 to $200, had come in.
Foster said he didn't even know about the effort until late Thursday morning.
"I was like, 'Oh man.' I'm just so happy about that. I appreciate them being concerned," he said. He added he's had several calls, including from three area music businesses willing to help his eight-person band so it can make a scheduled concert Saturday night in Malden, Mo.
Anyone who might have information on the stolen van or its contents is asked to call Urbana police at 217-384-2320. Calls can also be made to Crimestoppers of Champaign County at 373-8477. Information may also be left anonymously online at http://www.373tips.com  or by cellphone text message by sending CCTIP plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Crimestoppers will pay a reward if the information leads to an arrest. Cash rewards are also paid for information on other felony crimes or fugitives.