Alert: Violin Stolen
I'm writing to report that a violin was stolen from a car on Friday, 12/22 in NYC on East 83rd Street. The violin was made by Lukas Wronski. The label reads: "Lukas Wronski, New York, 2008.
Please alert everyone you know and if you have any information, please call: 646-479-7842 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A word of advice: NEVER LEAVE AN INSTRUMENT IN A PARKED CAR no matter what the weather or time of year. Of course, this holiday season is prime time for thieves as they expect to find, at the very least, various holiday gifts. This thief found a real bonus!
Here are pictures of the violin:
Sorry for your loss, it’s a hard way to learn your sage advice, hopefully you had it insured. Leaving string instruments in a car unattended for even a few minutes is indeed a bad idea, not only because of likely teft (even more so this time of year), but possible damage done to the instrument due to extreme temperatures variations. Over heating is less of an issue in winter I suppose, but one shouldn’t underestimate how warm the interior of a car can get in the sunshine, and when extremely cold (like -25C) this can equally be bad; frozen glue joints, extreme dryness followed by condensation when going inside, contraction of materials followed by expension when warming up are all very bad for an instrument. I for one very seldomly leave my violin in the trunk of my car out of sight for more than 2min if I am parked in a “safe” place. If I go grab a coffee in a high traffic area, even for 10min in and out, I usually take the instrument along with me. Also, when I do leave it in the car for a brief minute, I always ensure that the instrument was stowed away before I actually parked the car so no one can watch me putting it in the trunk for “safety” (especially in large parking lots). I usually avoid putting the instrument in the trunk, as rear ended collisions is apparently the most frequent source of heavy instrument damages.
You can register for a small fee a lost or stolen instrument on a list kept by the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. http://www.afvbm.org/violin-family-stolen-instrument-resources/
Thanks for the info, Bruce. I’ve passed it along.
Holy cow, someone had a violin out ON TRIAL and left it in a car?
Wow, what's wrong with leaving an instrument in a car when the temperatures are not a problem?
What's wrong with leaving it in the car when the temperature isn't an issue? On a trial, the instrument is normally insured by the seller's insurance, but it's very common for this insurance to exclude anything that's left unattended in a car. I don't think it's paranoid to be especially diligent when you're responsible for expensive instruments that belong to someone else.
"What are you gonna do, take it with you so you have a nice annoying big luggage in your back while shopping?"
Tim, I can’t speak for all of North America, but certainly in any large cities I’ve lived in Canada, I won’t leave so much of a quarter in sight anymore. Over the years I got almost every windows of my car smashed at one time or another, different cities, different times, different locations. Car theft is very frequent, especially during holiday season when thiefs know that most people have a trunk full of purchases. In spite of that many leave things up in plain sight thinking it never happens to them. I love it when they’re parked next to me; it makes them the prime target! Police use bait cars in shopping mall parking lots for a reason. If you value your instrument, a car isn’t a safe place to keep it.
As an addendum to Rogers' post,my wife locked her keys in the car a few weeks ago.CAA came by within the half hour and using a flat blade with a hook on the end,popped the lock in about 10 seconds.I was unnerved to say the least.
TR: "What are you gonna do, take it with you so you have a nice annoying big luggage in your back while shopping?"
As a further addendum, back in the days when car radio-cassette players weren't all that common, were expensive, and easy for the light-fingered to remove from a car, mine was stolen from my car during the night. I told the police, and the visiting officer remarked that the player would probably be sold on that very day in a particular pub not far away and well-known for such transactions, which could be secretly monitored if necessary. I advised to let the transaction go ahead because I knew that the player was broken beyond repair (I hadn't yet gotten round to having it replaced), and the thief would later receive a visit from a very dissatisfied and irate buyer. The officer said that was the best news he'd had all day.
Well, it happened to me once. I suggest you visit some pawn shops in your region. It is very likely you will find your violin in one of them. I recoverd my instrument this way.
About 30 years ago, I participated in a master class taught by the concertmaster of a respectable orchestra in the city I was living. He just recently acquired a strad! After class, I went for a bathroom break and there he was standing there with his strad in his arms--he took his violin with him everywhere he went.
How about keeping a gps tracker in the case somewhere?
Some cases do come with GPS trackers, but the “educated” thief with an once of intelligence would probably ditch the case rather quickly, but again many aren’t the brightest of individuals!
Do you ever leave your violin in your house?
Car break-in is relatively quick and safe compared to a house, hence far more frequent. I had my car broken in 4 times (once in the time it took to check-in a prominent hotel, get my key and come back with a cart)! My house never. They brake into cars parked in the driveways of my “safe” neighbourhood rather too often, houses much less so but they do, it is far more risky business however. I wouldn’t call Mary Ellen’s statement paranoid. The risk is real and well known. Leaving someone else’s very expensive instrument in a car unsupervised is indeed irresponsible/negligent (as proven in this case) and this is why many insurances policies deny coverage I suppose. The perception that car break-in only occur in risky neighbourhoods is a fallacy. Why do you think there are “Do not leave valuables in your vehicle” warning signs in just about every parking lot?
I was once in America for 2 months, near New York. It was a residential area, plenty of houses (chalet type)... breaking in a house was SO easy, you just wait for the family to leave (or you hit a house where a single person lives) and there's no chance at all you could get caught. Tress hide one house from another. All of them had a backyard area with a pool and BBQ, of course a door and plenty of windows. Bring a hammer and you're in.
In the US, many if not most houses are armed! If you break into one, there is a high probability that you may be looking at the barrel of a gun. The risk of breaking into an empty car is much lower.
A violin stolen from your house is (presumably) insured, assuming you have it insured. Insurance companies deny coverage if you have left your instrument in a car. That’s negligence. Don’t do it!!
Agreed. I’d NEVER leave my violin (especially a loaned instrument) in my car. I’ve lived in bigger cities (San Francisco & Chicago) for many years and had my cars broken into numerous times.
David Zhang wrote:
"He just recently acquired a strad! After class, I went for a bathroom break and there he was standing there with his strad in his arms--he took his violin with him everywhere he went."
Simple. On the one hand you tuck the violin under your right upper arm, and on the other hand you tuck it under your left upper arm, either of which leaves the hands free for, erm, other purposes. You'd probably have to remove the shoulder rest first.
Robbing a house is fraught with potential unknown perils, and it tends to be a crime committed by organized planners, often working in teams.
Robbing a house is not a crime of impulse and opportunity?
Well, as I (and several other posters) noted, leaving a violin in your unattended car is considered so irresponsible that insurers actually consider it negligent and will not honor such a claim. So whether or not you find it insulting, insurers -- who have actuarial tables pegged to measured risks -- do indeed find it to be unacceptably dangerous.
GREAT NEWS!!! I just heard that the violin was found. I don’t have any details yet but wanted to share the good news.
If we're going to evaluate risk, then we should ask how many violins are stolen from locked cars as compared to city parks, restaurants, public lavatories, shopping malls, etc., including those that were just momentarily set down whilst chatting with a clerk, ordering a drink, or whatever, and those that were destroyed by being sat upon or tumbling down stairs only because the person was carrying it around instead of keeping it in the trunk of his or her car. Of course I have no idea, but statistically, I'll bet a woman's purse is much safer in her car trunk than it is on the woman's shoulder or sitting next to her on the floor of a restaurant.
“...we should ask how many violins are stolen from locked cars as compared to city parks...”
Good point Paul. Yeah, we could talk about this for weeks. My final opinion is that I don't the like the idea, that seems to be greatly shared here, that one person is irresponsible for leaving the violin in the car.
Tim, I fear that you are being deliberately obtuse. Theft from cars is a major problem in pretty much every country on the planet and not just in major cities. It is an avoidable risk. You might not like it, and you are entitled to your opinion, but leaving someone else's valuable property in a car is irresponsible.
the whole issue is fraught with uncertainties.
So I guess all those signs one sees in various parking lots to the effect of "do not leave valuables in car" are superfluous?
People in general tend not to read warning notices, which are presumably "seen" as part of the background scenery.
“If I use your logic, I would call you all irresponsible for using your pocket to save your wallet.” And it would indeed be appropriate when walking in crowded areas in most large European cities that are fraught with pickpocketing. You wouldn’t get much sympathy from local police forces walking around with a bulging back pocket and would most likely call you irresponsible. You will see responsible women walking holding their purse in front of them to safe keep it from easy purse snatching. Ditto with cameras. Thief’s are there whether we acknowledge it, read the signs or not, tx to drug addiction, and ignoring it doesn’t make them go away. We can certainly make it harder for them though by reducing the opportunities of an easy bounty. Unfortunately we don’t live in a safe world, which is sad and I wish I could feel safe leaving things in my car but it ain’t where I live. I do however agree with not blaming someone for doing what I would do myself, it is a noble attitude.
The risk of a world famous soloist being robbed of her violin in a concert hall in front of hundreds of people was suggested as equal to or greater than that of an unattended car being broken in.
Mary Ellen wrote, "I never dreamed that the common sense action of not leaving a violin in a parked car would be controversial."
One key difference between a violin and a purse is the value to the thief. Money is money. A violin stolen from a car would probably be a crime of opportunity, not foresight (unless a clever instrument thief was stalking Tim!), so the violin might not be as readily identified as valuable. People not in the know often have no idea how much these things cost. Checking pawn shops was a good idea. Of course, the opposite could also be true. I wonder how many casual instrument thieves are sure they found a Strad?
Paul, I get your point. While assessing risks, that person has to individually play the odds according to his or her situation. But, insurance companies as many have mentioned, might not agree with you.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention one thing.
In retrospect, violin insurance companies might cover it anyway whether you leave it in a car or not. Who's a violin insurance expert?
Tim wrote “How robbery works in America? Thiefs meet in parkings and start breaking all the windows and trunks like crazy?”
It would simply be bad luck if the only few days (20-30? whatever) per year you leave the violin in your trunk you get robbed. Just like if you smash the case to the ground because you slip, or in a parking you put the case in the ground and don't realize it's quite exposed and a car pass over it. I remember I read a few years ago here one violinist that destroyed the violin because a car run over it.
Tim, You made your point although I think there is a difference between normal risk and assuming extra risk. For example, I believe that professional athletes have insurance that cover them in case of injury and thus loss of earnings, and I think insurance companies have clauses that say thou shall not take up extreme sports, skydive, etc.
Hum, Tim that’s an interesting argument though kind of getting way, way off topic, but for what it’s worth it is reported that a wast majority of car accidents are caused by things that are in your control and preventable. Driving too fast, poor vehicle maintenance, poorly timed moment of inattention, impaired driving etc. you name it; rarely isn’t there an element of responsibility involved and an accident entirely pure bad luck (like getting hit my a meteorite while driving to the airport for a vacation), but I concede pure bad luck does happen from time to time but it is generally considered rare. Getting a violin stolen out of a car at Christmas in a shopping mall parking lot isn’t pure bad luck, it’s possible, arguably probable and also preventable. Taking that risk, even if so minute, with someone else’s instrument probably knowing that it wouldn’t meet the owner’s approval is irresponsible in my book since you are responsible for the instrument safekeeping. Doing it with your own instrument is your business as you are the one suffering the consequences of your own choice and in this case I’d probably call it negligent. You see this scenario as not your fault, just bad luck, while morally I see it as entirely my fault as I could have and should have prevented it knowing that it was possible even if un-probable. A court of law would most likely see no fault, whereas an insurance company may claim negligence.
Y'all can speculate all you want about my insurance. I do not speculate. I asked my insurance agent (Allstate) what is covered and what is not. My agent told me that my violin is covered against theft or loss from *anywhere* including my vehicle. It is a separate rider on my homeowner's policy, for which I pay about $100 per year based on the appraised valuation of the instrument.
Wise words Paul ;-) Ditto for me.
Evaluating risk differently depending on whether it's your instrument or someone else's makes perfect sense because you're free to choose the consequence for yourself but not for someone else who has trusted you with a valuable object. For the same reason, I will on occasion lend one of my most advanced students an instrument or a bow for a particular occasion, but I never lend the violin or bow that have been loaned to me--I only lend my own property. I can choose for myself to assume a risk. I cannot make that choice unilaterally for the Kuttner's owner.
I think some of you are giving too much credit to thieves.
Paul, I wasn't trying to get into your space. I think it does look that way. Just clarification on what is covered and what is not for my own information. I believed a typical car insurance only does not cover stolen items not part of the car, which I think is valuable to know.
The violin I use right now, which someone is lending me, has a very expensive insurance. The insurance only covers situations where you can prove were out of your control. This includes natural disasters such as earthquakes, and other things including robberies where you were present.
Leaving a violin in your house, or taking public transport/driving (Tim), is an inevitable part of life, while leaving it in a car is deliberately choosing the less safe of two reasonable options.
Well you do have to follow what your insurance will cover. Not surprising that pro insurance differs. Just like personal vs work vehicle ... many differences. Just seems strange to me that they'll pay if you leave your violin in a restaurant in plain view but not in your car trunk where it is not visible. But, maybe that's what their numbers say.
Gemma the question that Tim and I have is whether it's really less safe. Majority indignation alone doesn't make it so.
The statistics could possibly show no difference in safety between the two scenarios on average only because of the number game, but we can only speculate in absence of evidence. The big difference is that I am not in control of what is left in my car, and can do nothing about it whereas I do if I take the instrument along with me. Perhaps people who tend to have a casual or careless attitude in handling their instrument/case might well be better off leaving it in a car, but it certainly is not the case with me. If I am carrying my instrument (or anyone else’s for that matter) I always exercise a conscious level of care and safety concern at all times. I consciously avoid moving in a careless way (like running), remain aware of how I handle the case (not bumping into things), and never leave it out of my sight unless out of anyone’s reach (like putting it down on the floor while standing in a line isn’t a good idea). I suppose someone could yank it off my hands and run with it, but they’re better run fast! As for forgetting it somewhere, I usually make sure I either keep it in sight, or clip it onto something that I must take along with me and won’t forget. In other words I safe keep it responsibly. You read all sorts of mishap stories (car running over, theft onboard trains, falling down stairs, slipping), but they often have a relationship to either irresponsible, careless, inattentive or casual handling, and in the odd cases, sheer bad luck.
Exactly, majority indignation does not prove a thing, neither proves that it's the safest solution.
So to be really specific, there are four types of ways that you can cover a musical instrument with insurance: renter's insurance, homeowner's insurance, musical instrument insurance for non-professionals, and musical instrument insurance for professionals. (And there's a fifth way -- the insurance that is carried by the professionals in the trade, like violin shops. In general, when you take an instrument out on rental or approval, they'll specify your responsibilities to keep it safe. They don't care that much about rentals, but for instruments on approval, your approval contract might very well specify that you don't leave it unattended in a car, among other things.)
Tim I recommend that tell your luthier “
Roger that proves nothing except that the luthier shares the majority opinion. I'm sure Tim is clever enough to flatter his Luther's prejudices enough to escape such consequences as you have described.
Tim and Paul, you had a point in arguing that for certain people like you, that leaving your violin in the car could be possibly safer than taking it with you. But the insurance companies that cover violins similar to the one that was stolen do not agree.
Yes. Insurance companies have to do their business as diligently as anyone else. That is a far cry, however, from the blanket generalization of flagrant irresponsibility assigned to individual decisions. Probably insurers should likewise forbid you taking your fiddle to Somalia, Yemen, etc.
Insurers won’t forbid anything, they just won’t pay if something happens that they won’t cover. They operate on claim statistics, and when excluding coverage you can pretty much bet that it isn’t good for business to do so based on past history. If they specifically exclude coverage for instruments kept in trunks under some circumstances it’s for a reason. Most likely the loss of a professional instrument is too high a cost given the frequency of occurrence in their experience.
Why are we keep talking about insurance companies?
"Insurers won’t forbid anything, they just won’t pay if something happens that they won’t cover. "