The $5 Million Violin and the Telltale Taser: Inside an Epically Stupid Crime
J Thoendell stashed this in Crime
t was a little after 10PM when Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO), walked out of Wisconsin Lutheran College into the sub-zero January night. He had just finished a chamber music performance at the small school, located in the quiet suburb of Wauwatosa, and he was headed home.
As Almond opened the passenger door of his car to put his violin inside, a 41-year-old ex-con named Salah Salahadyn allegedly walked up to Almond and tased him unconscious. Almond came to just in time to see his attacker speed away in a burgundy minivan driven by a woman in a black hat. Almond’s iPad and iPhone were both gone. As were two 19th-century bows, which were worth a combined $50,000. And so was the violin, a 1715 Stradivarius he had been playing since a wealthy benefactor loaned it to him in 2008.
It was worth $5 million.
“There is now exactly one documented case of a Strad-level violin specifically targeted for an armed robbery," Almond tells VICE News. "Lucky me.”
* * *
He actually was pretty lucky.
Salahadyn, who had previously spent five years in prison for swiping a $25,000 statue from a Milwaukee art gallery in the mid-1990s and then trying to sell it back to the gallery owner, once described stealing a Strad as his "dream theft." But when he allegedly stole Almond's, it wasn't exactly the perfect score. Somehow Salahadyn had failed to realize that each time a Taser is fired, it disperses tiny ID tags imprinted with bar-coded serial numbers — kind of like guilt confetti.