Three Los Angeles-area high schools are the latest victims of a rash of tuba thefts that police say are spurred by the surging popularity of traditional Mexican music.
Thieves broke into Huntington Park High School last week and stole its last remaining tuba, the Los Angeles Times reported. Another had been swiped from the school earlier in the year.
Prior to that theft, South Gate High School had $13,000 worth of tubas stolen, and band members at Centennial High School in the Compton neighborhood found eight of their instruments missing.
"I really think there's a black market for tubas," said Ruben Gonzalez Jr., a music teacher at South Gate High.
"Whether it be in this state or another state, or down south in Mexico."
The instruments can fetch between $2,000 and $5,000 on the black market, according to the Times.
The tuba is one of the primary instruments in banda, a form of music popular among Mexican immigrants in the Los Angeles area. Tuba players can reportedly earn more than $100 an hour playing in banda combos.
Police do not know the full extent of the thefts because they have occurred within multiple school districts and police jurisdictions.
No arrests have been made in any of the incidents.