A U-Haul van with over $1 million in musical equipment was stolen from the DoubleTree hotel at SeaTac, and sheriff’s detectives are asking for help in locating it.

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When someone drove off with a rental van containing maybe $1 million worth of musical instruments, computers and audiovisual equipment, it was not a good start for this weekend’s convention in SeaTac for high school and college classical-music bands.

Luckily for the organizers, band leaders from local high schools “jumped right in” and brought in instruments from their own institutions, says Scott McKee, CEO of Western International Band Clinic, the Ashland, Oregon, nonprofit that organizes the annual event.

“It was a great show of humanity. We started right on time.”

The contents of the van were insured, McKee said. But holding the convention, now in its 39th year, became the worry.

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The theft took place at 4:10 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of the DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaTac, says the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives say surveillance photos show the 24-foot U-Haul van rented by the group heading out of the hotel lot in the 18700 block of International Boulevard. The rental van is a Ford F450, orange and white, with a large picture of a zebra on the side, and license plates AG29943.

Detectives say that a dark-colored pickup was seen in the area at the time of the crime, and they are asking for help from anyone with information. The Sheriff’s Office describes the pickup as a two-door with two white stripes on top of the cab.

McKee says about the crime, “They broke the window and actually hot-wired the van. Then they rammed the gate.”

McKee says the convention draws 600 high school students and 60 college students who competed for spots in an “honor band.” The students rehearse through the weekend for a concert.

The convention also includes clinics attended by 150 high-school band leaders.

Its affiliated magazine, Bandworld, offers such tips as “Developing superior rehearsal discipline” and “Why switch to tuba?”

McKee says the van was loaded with plenty of expensive things that could add up to $1 million, although he says that’ll be itemized after the convention.

There were three tubas, for example, he says, and they run $5,000 to $6,000 each. There were baritone saxophones, the largest among saxophones, and they’re also in the $5,000 to $6,000 range.

McKee says the high-end audiovisual equipment and the computers loaded into the van accounted for a huge cost.

All those can be replaced, he says. Not replaceable are the photos and boards with signatures from 18 years’ of conventions.

“We lost all of that,” McKee says.

Anyone with information can call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311.

Or you may remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).