Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stradivarius Violin Still Missing After Three Suspects Arrested For Theft

Stradivarius violin

$100,000 reward for missing violin being offered.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 5, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - On Wednesday, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn confirmed during a press conference, that three suspects, including a woman have been arrested in connection with the January 27 stolen Stradivarius violin worth between $6 to $10 million. Two men ages, 36 and 41, and a woman, 32, were taken into custody on Monday morning after information and evidence, a Taser and Taser Probe connected one of the male suspects to the armed robbery. The suspect is known by police for a similar art theft in November 1995, when a small statue by Nicolas Africano was stolen from the Michael Lord Gallery at the Pfister Hotel. The suspect after four years later called the gallery owner to see, if he wanted to buy it back. The owner called police and the suspect was arrested.
Criminal charges are pending against the three local suspects, according to Flynn. G. B. Jones, acting FBI special agent-in-charge of the Milwaukee field office also said, that they have the suspects involved in the violin theft.
Police continue to look for the van used in the January robbery and the violin, which is still missing. A $100K reward is being offered for information leading to its recovery. Chief Flynn believes that the violin could still be in the Milwaukee area.
A warrant executed at Samantha Jone's residence, she told TMJ News 4 that her nephew, one of the suspects arrested was innocent. Police went through everything in the home and left it in a total mess, according to Jones.
The Stradivarius 1715 rare violin was reported stolen at a parking lot located at the Wisconsin Lutheran College. Police say that Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra along with other members had just finished a performance and were walking to their car in the parking when the robbery occured.  A suspect approached Almond and used a taser on him, it caused him to drop the violin. The suspect then picked up the violin and fled the scene in a mini van near by, which was driven by second suspect.
Several hours later, the violin case was found iat Washington Park, including an iPad, police say. The violin was the primary target, Chief Flynn said, during the press conference.
The violin is likely the most valuable single item ever stolen in the Milwaukee area, but the value is only appreciated by few collectors. 
"It is important to note that this violin is valuable to a very small number of people in the world and is not something easily sold for what it is worth," according to police.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crimes Team from the Virginia headquarters continues to work with Milwaukee police in their investigation and recovery of the violin.
The violin has been entered into the international art theft database. The FBI team works with Interpol to connect with international art dealers who are able to help locate stolen items throughout international markets, police reported.
Interpol has been notified of the stolen violin.

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