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Rare violin stolen; police seek public's help

May 4, 2011 1:16:25 AM PDT
A rare violin is stolen and the thief uses a Muni train for his getaway. Police are asking for the public's help.

The violin was stolen when a stranger walked into the Conservatory of Music near Van Ness, scoped out the place and walked out with the violin. The victim was a young student who moved to the Bay Area last summer from Oregon and who has poured her heart and soul into being a professional musician.

Emily Cox can still make beautiful music, but it's just not the same with the violin she had to borrow from a friend.

"No instrument is alike. No person is alike," said Cox.

Her violin, the one she's played for 11 years, since she was a teenager, was stolen. It's a one-of-a kind Caressa & Francais violin made in the 1920's and worth $23,000.

"I've done a lot of growing up with that instrument, so it's really sad for me to think that it's somewhere in the hands of somebody else, a complete stranger," said Cox.

Last Tuesday afternoon, she left her violin in a classroom on the fifth floor of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to check her emails.

"In between the time I was gone, the suspect came in and grabbed the violin and fled the building," said Cox.

As the suspect left the conservatory on Oak Street, a classmate followed him to the Muni stop on Van Ness where he got on a train and that's when he was seen on Muni video.

Police say a camera on the Muni train captured a clear shot of the suspect getting on board with what appears to be Emily's violin case strapped to his back. Police say he travelled about four minutes and got off at Powell Street.

"I have the resources of the FBI. I have the whole state of California, every law enforcement agency is going to get fliers on this case," said SFPD Inspector Brian Danker. "It's going to be the public that going to give this guy up. This guy's going to go."

For Cox, getting her violin back is more than just a bit of sentimentality.

"It's my entire livelihood because I play my violin for work and I need it to audition with," said Cox.

Cox has played with the Santa Cruz County Symphony and the Fresno Philharmonic. She says the violin is insured, but that's not the point. She needs it back.

Police have set up a tip line: (415) 575-4444

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