Caramia Helps Recover Stolen Cello

I went to the craigslist website, intending to post an ad for my teaching services. I typed the word 'cello' into their 'search craigslist' area, and one of the posts that came up was about a stolen cello. It said something to the effect of "Andrew Schroetter cello stolen June 6th. Instrument is approximately 10 years old. Please e-mail with phone number if you can help!" I read it with some interest, thinking I should e-mail the poster and ask for a more detailed description of the instrument. I figured that since some of my students are cello shopping right now, they might see a decent student cello for a too-good-to-be-true price and buy it. So I went about my business posting my ad, then went over to the 'for sale' area on craigslist to see about cellos for my students. Well low and behold, there was an ad posted for an Andrew Schroetter cello, 10 years old, for $350, with the only explanation for the low price being "Must sell". There were all kinds of things that tipped me off that this might be the stolen cello. For example, the ad itself looked like it had been 'borrowed' from some online store, plus the price on the heading was different than the price quoted in the ad by about $1200. To be honest, even though I was seeing all those red flags, I was at first not inclined to write to the person whose cello was stolen. I usually tend to keep to myself unless I feel I have something important to say, and I was thinking that the person whose cello was stolen would probably check all the places where a stolen instrument might be sold, especially the 'for sale' section of the same site where he had posted his own ad. I was ready to shut down my computer for the evening, but then I thought to myself ... Well, what if he doesn't think of it?

If I ever had an instrument (or anything else) stolen and someone had a possible lead on it, I'd certainly want them to tell me. So, I typed up a quick e mail to ask more details on the instrument (serial number, model, etc.) and to point the person to the questionable ad, just in case it was his cello. The owner turned out to be another cello teacher who had rented this instrument to a student. Honestly I don't remember how he said it was stolen.... I think the student had left it in the car, and the car was broken into....something like that. Anyway, a couple days ago I received an e mail from the guy whose cello was stolen ( I would use his name, but I have not asked his permission yet to do so), saying the cello had been recovered. He had deicded to try e mailing the person who was selling the cello in the questionable ad and recieved a call back. Apparently the seller said she could meet him in a parking lot in San Francisco for him to take a look at the instrument. (Sound fishy to you yet?) Anyway he came clean and said he was looking for a cello that had been stolen, and that if this was the one he would be willing to pay $300 cash, no questions asked. They met in the parking lot, he recognized his cello at a glance, gave the woman $300 and walked away with the cello.

I wanted to share my story with people who understand what a cellist's bond with their instrument is like. I have to say, knowing that I was able to help return an instrument, regardless of its quality, to the hands of its rightful owner, gives me great satisfaction :-)

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