L.A. police conduct hunt for stolen Stradivarius

Tape shows youth on bike taking $3.5 million cello

May 08, 2004|By Sara Lin | Sara Lin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES - The theft early last week of a $3.5 million Stradivarius cello owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic sent a sour note across the classical music world amid fears that a sophisticated ring of bandits had made off with the treasure.

Detectives launched an international search for the instrument as aficionados from London to Hong Kong chattered about who might have the cello.

But on Thursday, the investigation shifted closer to home.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a videotape showing a young man on a bicycle, probably a teen-ager from the neighborhood, making off with the cello. The grainy video shows the thief peddling away with the silver cello case under his arm, and then has the sound of him crashing into trash cans before getting away.

The cello, played by Philharmonic principal cellist Peter Stumpf, is known as the General Kyd, after the man who brought it to England at the end of the 18th century.

It was taken early April 25 while Stumpf was with several other people at his Los Angeles home. "He had come home the night before with the cello in hand. He put the cello on the porch, opened the door and forgot to bring it in," said Police Cmdr. Michel Moore.

Stumpf was about to leave for an afternoon concert at Disney Hall when he saw the cello was missing. Nothing else was taken. A few days after the theft, one of Stumpf's neighbors told police that his home security camera had captured the crime.

On Wednesday, the LAPD offered a $50,000 reward for the cello's safe return.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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