Stolen violin (made by Chris Johnson, stolen in London)

January 3, 2018, 8:00 AM · Hello everyone,

My violin was stolen just before Christmas (18 December). Posting here in case anyone happens to see it for sale, or in the hands of a student.

The violin was made by Chris Johnson around 2003. It has "Chris Johnson" marked below the button on the back of the instrument, and a label inside with something like "Chris Johnson, Loughborough maker, 2003 [or thereabouts]”.

The violin has a pale yellowish colour, with a large chin rest centred over the middle rather than to one side. It was stolen in a hard rectangular black canvas case, with two bows inside. For one of the bows the screw for tightening the bow has come loose so it can't be tightened.

Please contact me and/or the police if you see or hear anything about this violin. My number is 07813146353 and my email is

The crime reference number is 2339228/17.

Replies (29)

January 3, 2018, 9:05 AM · Sorry someone stole your violin. That's awful.

This post reminds us that -- perhaps as new year's resolutions -- we should all make sure our insurance and appraisals are up-to-date, and that we have several decent-quality photographs of our violins so that we do not have to guess at things like distinctive markings or the year the instrument was made...

January 3, 2018, 11:35 AM · Good idea to take some photos.
January 3, 2018, 9:10 PM · Daniel, very sorry about your loss. How did it happen? Your best bet is probably local pawnshops, eBay and other electronic market places in your area (in North America e.g. kraiglist, Kijiji, Used “city-name”).
Edited: January 3, 2018, 10:22 PM · Yeah how did it happen?
January 4, 2018, 3:31 PM · I'll check my local branches of Cash Converters this weekend. Valuable stolen fiddles have ended up in one of them before, so you never know!
January 4, 2018, 6:19 PM · "How did it happen" ... what they want to know is whether your violin was in the trunk of your car because there was a hot debate about that a short time ago.
Edited: January 4, 2018, 9:28 PM · No Paul, that debate is there, I already said that there's no right or bad option, not a responsible and irresponsible choice. Arguments for both choices are solid, and it doesn't matter how many posts of stolen violins in the trunk we find in this web.

It's out of curiosity, how did it happen?

Edited: January 5, 2018, 6:14 AM · Sorry to presume ... you'll have to admit, though, that it might seem a remarkable coincidence that the two proponents of the opposing positions on the other thread were the ones asking here. At least as I recall.

One thing I notice is that the theft is listed only on three violin-related websites. Google is not picking it up in any newspapers.

January 5, 2018, 10:22 AM · .... Which newspapers in London do you think would carry something about the theft of a violin??
January 5, 2018, 11:26 AM · Paul, this is no coincidence, it’s only natural that those who discussed violin theft in the other thread are also curious to find out what happened in Chris’ situation, though I can understand why he may not be interested in discussing it. We are obviously interested, and that includes you too, though you are showing more subtle restrain admittedly ;-) It remains a traumatic event for anyone, no matter how it happened (which is one of 3 ways mentioned in the other thread: while stowed away somewhere, while being carried, while momentarily left unattended).

As someone mentioned in that other thread, the OP should list it in the stolen violin registries, that was good advice.

January 5, 2018, 4:01 PM · Chris, not sure about London ... our local media outlets pick up a lot of that kind of local news. It's a sufficiently "unusual" crime that I can see a local TV station spending a 15-second spot on it.
Edited: January 5, 2018, 6:52 PM · Personally I don’t think I would widly publicize where the thief could realize that it has become public knowledge. I would think that it could turn the instrument in the eyes of the thief into a hot item and incite the thief to cut his/her loss and destroy it rather than attempting to sell it, which is the best chance of recovering it. I’d notify all local pawnshops, luthiers and music shops likely to be trading the item though.
January 6, 2018, 3:28 AM · Wow still don't know where and how it happened...
January 6, 2018, 4:21 AM · The local press picked it up. You can find the story in the Internet.
January 6, 2018, 6:19 AM · Maybe I'm not very good at Googling. I typed "stolen violin London" and "stolen violin Chris Johnson" and all I get are violin blogs.
Edited: January 7, 2018, 2:31 AM · I did not want to do that... feels like gossiping. I feel sorry for Daniel’s loss and I hope some miracle will bring his violin back.

Edited: January 6, 2018, 6:27 AM · Double post
Edited: January 6, 2018, 8:37 AM · How is asking how a violin was stolen, when and where... gossiping?!?!?

Wow "Police told Mr Chandler it was unusual for a violin to be stolen". Some people here may go nuts after reading that, hahahaha. The violin definitely was not in a trunk. I guess this proves trunks are WAAAAAAAY safer than carrying your violin around.

"According to the police officer, it’s very rare because they’re quite hard to sell on"

Oh wow big mamma, hahaha, this is going to offend a lot of people here.

OK joking aside, I didn't really know how it happened, they said it was lost in a raid, but not how and where exactly. I mean, if I had my violin stolen, I'd give all the exact details, hours and minutes, case description, violin description, unique marks of the violin, how and where it happened, etc...

EDIT: oh, OK, here we go:

Edited: January 6, 2018, 9:35 AM · I think the reason it feels like gossiping is because the question was asked here repeatedly how it was lost, and undoubtedly Mr. Chandler saw those posts and declined to answer himself, so going around him to find it on a local tabloid site could seem unsavory to some.
January 6, 2018, 9:45 AM · Thanks Paul
Edited: January 6, 2018, 12:02 PM · See how it’s done in this video of a theft caught on camera:

January 6, 2018, 1:10 PM · For many years now if you go to the main violin dealers/repairers in my city you have to ring a doorbell before they'll come to the door to let you in. An important first level of security.
January 6, 2018, 2:06 PM · I think it's useful to know as much detail as possible about how a violin was stolen, so others can learn from that and minimize their risks.
January 6, 2018, 2:30 PM · That was my thinking when I asked what happened. Where there any risk factors that were overlooked? Whether at home, car, walking or the practice/recital hall, what are the things one should do to minimize the likelihood of theft (not damage)? We can’t eliminate it completely without being paranoïd, but there certainly are some simple habits one should cultivate that go a long way in reducing the possibility.

In the OP’s case, the little we know is that his instrument was left at a friend’s flat. Sounds like a pretty reasonable thing to do. He might even have done so because the alternative (to carry his instrument along to where he was going) was less desirable at the time (Tim’s previous argument for leaving his instrument in the trunk of his car). That turned out to be the unfortunate choice (neither right nor wrong), but not one that he should regret. We make our choices with the info we have at the time. No doubt that he went back in his mind asking himself why he made that choice, and not the other, and whether he missed something he might have overlooked. I agree, it would be nice if he’d be willing to share his thoughts and experience indeed as we can all benefit from it to some degree.

January 6, 2018, 2:45 PM · How about the big shots with their Strads? Do they have safes at home?
January 6, 2018, 4:31 PM · Hahahaha, Roger, that's a violin shop. It's a very different story than a personal violin stolen. Well, we can all agree that stealing a violin in that shop (and I'd say most of music stores are like this) is EASY AS PIE, much more easy than assaulting someone's trunk. The shop should be closed for irresponsibility according to the logic of many people here. I mean showing them violins like that is extremely exposing, the one only thing missing is a warning saying "Please steal all you want".

Well, unless the violinist in question was doing ilegal stuff or meeting a lover... I still don't see how asking for the details of the robbery would be ever considered gossiping. As I've said, if it happened to me I would not feel that my privacy is being violated by explaining all details RELATED to the violin, which is what we are asking. Yeah, I agree with what some of you have said, reading these kind of things help us to learn about mistakes we do and it's always useful.

Edited: January 6, 2018, 5:12 PM · Dealers of very expensive instruments certainly do have a safe, and when having a multi-million $ instrument, no doubt that one has to take some extraordinary measures to secure it. In a video seen on YouTube on the Lady Blunt, a police contingent was used to securely transport it for a concert abroad. I have what I would call a somewhat more modest instrument (a huge understatement), but if I go away overnight I do hide it out of sight in case of a break and enter, so it is not quickly snatched away by thief(s), even though I have an alarm system. Tim will probably call me paranoid, but that’s how I am.
Edited: January 6, 2018, 5:41 PM · Tim, yes obviously this shop has learned a valuable lesson (a simple digital tag attached to the scroll would be one way to make it more difficult) but the same tactic is just as easily used to snatch an instrument in the green room, cafe, concert hall where it is easy to sneak in and out of. I feel sorry for that shop, but thankfully the police has clear video identification evidence and finger prints (if they bothered swiping them off the other instrument). It’s just a matter of time before they arrest her on other criminal cases as I doubt they’ll spend much effort chasing her on such a relatively small store theft.
January 6, 2018, 7:46 PM · Tim wrote, "If it happened to me I would not feel..." But it didn't happen to you, and you should be thankful for that. Others might feel differently. We know nothing about the OP, Mr. Chandler. For all we know he might not have returned to this site because he's distraught over losing his violin, which he loved and cannot either afford to replace. That's very depressing for him I'm sure. So maybe there's a simple reason why he didn't spill all the details of how his friend's flat got robbed. It's so easy to make assumptions. Knowing whether it was tucked under a sofa or parked in a closet will not really do any of us that much good.

As for that shop burglary, that thief's got a conspicuous birth mark or tattoo on her right forearm and the brand of her denims can be seen as well. I'm sure London detectives have though of everything we have.

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