February 7, 2014 / 7:08 PM / 4 years ago

Two men charged in Wisconsin theft of Stradivarius violin

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Two Wisconsin men were charged Friday with stealing a rare Stradivarius violin worth millions of dollars from a concert violinist in late January, prosecutors said.

The violin, which was made in 1715 and had an appraised value of $5 million for insurance purposes, was recovered late Wednesday from a Milwaukee residence, where it had been stored in a suitcase in the attic, police said.

Salah Jones, 41, and Universal Knowledge Allah, 36, were charged with felony robbery and Allah was also charged with marijuana possession. A 32-year-old woman arrested in connection with the crime, has not been charged.

Jones and Allah were expected to appear Friday in a Milwaukee County District Court for an initial hearing.

Early last week, the thieves took the violin after incapacitating concert musician Frank Almond with a stun gun as he left a concert in suburban Milwaukee, authorities said.

Jones told a witness that stealing a Stradivarius violin “was his dream theft” because of its potential value and it could be “snatched from the hands of a musician as they walk down the street,” the criminal complaint said.

The complaint said Jones had Allah buy the Taser for him last summer because he did not have a permit for it.

A few months later, Jones told Allah that he needed the Taser to acquire an instrument that was rare and one of a kind, the complaint said. Before the theft, Allah retrieved the Taser from a safe, it said.

After his arrest on Monday, Jones told authorities they could find the violin in a black suitcase in an attic in a residence on the city’s south side, according to the complaint.

The so-called Lipinski Stradivarius had been on loan indefinitely to Almond from a private owner. It is one of roughly 600 violins, violas and cellos still in existence that were built by the famed Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari.

Reporting By Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson

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