Video: $23,000 violin stolen, Muni used as getaway ride 

Police are trying to identify a brazen thief who stole a young woman’s $23,000 violin as she was practicing at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music last week.

Be sure to scroll down -- or click on link here -- to see a video of the suspect making his getaway on Muni.

Police Inspector Brian Danker said a light-haired man dressed in black somehow got past security guards at the front door of the school at 50 Oak St. at about 4 p.m. on April 26. He said only students and teachers are allowed in.

The 26-year-old victim had left her instrument in a practice room on the fifth floor to go check her email in the computer lab, Danker said, when the stranger apparently walked in and made off with both the violin and the woman’s cell phone.

On his way up in the elevator, the man made a “weird, kind of goofy statement” to two other women, one of whom was complaining about her missing phone, according to Danker.

“He says, ‘You guys are pretty white-bread here, so no one’s going to take your stuff,’” Danker said. The women found the remark strange, but didn’t think much of it until they saw the man walk out of the conservatory with their schoolmate’s black violin case, he said.

“One of those girls had the guts to follow the guy,” Danker said, down to the Muni station at Van Ness Avenue and Market Street, where she saw him get on the T-line light-rail vehicle and then called police.

Muni video surveillance later showed the suspect getting off at the Powell Street station, Danker said. The video was matched to a man seen on surveillance video at the school, he said.

“We desperately need to ID him, and more important, we need to recover that violin,” Danker said. The victim explained to him that each violin is unique and this one, a Caressa & Francais made in the early 1900s, had special sentimental value to her.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or Danker at (415) 614-3463.



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Ari Burack

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