Punk band loses gear, passports after van stolen during Montreal festival

The Penske File, a band from Burlington, Ont., was playing at Pouzza Fest when their van was stolen from a parking spot near the venue.

Montreal police are investigating the theft that occurred during Pouzza Fest, Sunday

The Penske File and their van, when they were together. (Submitted by The Penske File)

Montreal police are investigating after a punk/rock band in town to perform at a music festival had their van stolen.

The Penske File, a band from Burlington, Ont., was playing at Pouzza Fest, a downtown event named for a hybrid of poutine and pizza and held annually since 2011.  

The band's van was stolen on Sunday afternoon from a parking spot just around the corner from Katacombes Coop on St-Laurent Boulevard.

James Hall, the band's bass player and vocalist, told CBC this is "the worst situation" for any band, especially considering their van was full of gear, and members' passports.

Hall said the van had about $20,000-worth of equipment as well as some cash in it.

After the theft, the band saw a man wearing a backpack that they recognized as having been taken from the van. They called 911 and police arrested the man.

Police said the man is in his 40s, but as of Monday, they had no other information about the missing van.

The show must go on

Despite the bad luck, the group went on to play their show. 

Hall said he's grateful for the support they received from fans after word began to circulate about what happened.

"There's like, really cool people around us, a lot of friends, everyone knew what was going on because of social media," he said. "I would not have made it through my day without the amazing support I'm surrounded with."

The band members are headed back to Ontario, with friends who offered them a lift.

"Vans are a band's home, and gear is literally how bands make their living, so it has a massively negative impact," said Mike Magee, co-owner of Stomp Records and Pouzza Fest co-organizer.

"I'm ashamed to say that Montreal is building an international reputation as an unsafe city for artists," he said, adding that there will be a crowdfunding campaign to help the band bounce back.

"I know the scene will come together to help support these guys."

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio