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Police Investigate Break-in and Theft from Legendary Recording Studio Near Shirlington

A thief reportedly stole equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars from the famous Inner Ear Studio near Shirlington this morning.

The building’s landlord was the first to spot something was amiss: a car was parked by the rear door of the recording studio with the trunk open.

“He got pictures,” said Inner Ear owner Don Zientara, of the landlord’s eagle eye. “But they were stolen [license] plates.”

Several police officers could be seen on scene today just before 1 p.m., searching the studio. An officer photographed the remnants of a lock that had been punched through, leaving a gaping hole in the building’s front door.

“The stuff I can see just by looking totals around $10,000,” said Zientara, who described holes in the wall where some of his music recording equipment once stood.

He said he’s still working on assessing all the pieces of equipment that were stolen, but so far noticed a power supply, a pre-amplifier, and a Telefunken AR-51 tube condenser microphone are gone. Other, expensive items like computers had been left untouched, he noted.

“It was kind of indiscriminate,” said Zientara, who said his insurance will likely cover the losses.

Over the past three decades, he said thieves have never targeted his Shirlington studio — though a bass guitar once went missing many years ago.

Police responded to the call about the theft just after noon today, though the theft took place earlier in the morning, per scanner traffic.

Zientara founded Inner Ear Studio in the late 1970s, recording a long list of bands, including key members of the D.C. area’s punk scene.

Since then, the studio has continued to record independent artists. But it’s also attracted big names like the Foo Fighters, who recorded in the studio for their 2014 album Sonic Highways. An HBO documentary about the band and the album prominently featured Inner Ear.

Foo frontman Dave Grohl and bandmates previously recorded at Inner Ear before he went on to worldwide fame as a member of Nirvana.

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