Three arrested in theft of Stradivarius violin from Bienen lecturer

Ally Mutnick, Campus Editor

Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the theft of a Stradivarius violin, taken from Bienen lecturer Frank Almond in Milwaukee last week, investigators announced Wednesday. The nearly 300-year-old instrument remains missing.

The Milwaukee Police will seek charges against the three individuals, who were taken into custody Monday. Police are confident of the trio’s involvement in the case, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said at a news conference.

The violin has not been found, but members of the Milwaukee Police and the FBI, who has been assisting in the investigation, said they have no reason to believe it has left the Milwaukee area.

Flynn said police would make clear when questioning the subjects that the violin is not an object worthy of theft because it is only of value to a collector, who will not want the instrument without proper documentation.

“This is not something that can easily be disposed of at some future date. It will never be valuable for a thief,” Flynn said at the news conference. “There is not a market for it. It is not a good trophy.”

Flynn would not say if Almond had identified the subjects. Investigators believe they were acting alone.

Police were familiar with one suspect before the arrest because of possible involvement in other crimes. Flynn described the suspects as a 32-year-old woman and two men, ages 36 and 41.

Several tips led investigators to the suspects, including physical evidence left at the scene. The violin’s case was discovered just a few hours after the robbery occurred.

The violin, made in 1715 and known as a Lipinski Stradivarius, was stolen from Almond outside of the Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee where he had been playing a concert. An anonymous owner loaned the violin indefinitely to Almond, who is the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra announced last week a $100,000 award is being offered to anyone who can offer information leading to the violin’s return.

Almond posted a statement from the violin’s owner on his blog Monday.

“I’m not part of any upper echelon, musical or other, just a person who loved her family violin with all its memories and three hundred years of history more than the many opportunities to sell it,” the owner wrote. “My heart is broken.”

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