Grab a sandwich, lose a $1.9 million Stradivarius

Mon Dec 6, 2010 4:45pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - A musician who went into a central London sandwich store to buy something to eat has had a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin worth 1.2 million pounds ($1.9 million) stolen, police said on Monday.

British Transport Police have launched a public appeal to get the rare instrument back and the musician's insurer, Lark Insurance Broking Group, has offered a 15,000-pound reward for information leading to its recovery.

Detective Inspector Andy Rose said the theft took place on the evening of Monday, November 29, outside Euston train station.

After going to a Pret A Manger cafe, the violinist noticed her violin case had been taken and called the police.

Inside the case was a 1696 Antonio Stradivarius antique violin as well as a Peccatte bow, valued at 62,000 pounds, and another bow made by the School of Bazin valued at more than 5,000 pounds.

"These items hold enormous sentimental and professional value for the victim," Rose said in a statement.

"But although they are extremely valuable, it would be very difficult to sell them on as they are so rare and distinctive that they will be easily recognized as stolen property.

"It's possible the instrument will be offered for sale within the antique or musical trade and we ask anyone who has any knowledge of the violin's whereabouts to come forward so it can be returned to its rightful owner."

The police did not name the classical musician, but British media reported that the violin's owner was 32-year-old Korean-born Min-Jin Kym. British Transport Police were not immediately available to comment on the identity of the victim.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Maria Golovnina)