Expensive violin stolen from musician in Montrose area

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A local musician is missing his $40,000 violin. Someone stole it out of his car while he slept Wednesday night.

Tony Sanville says he got home from a performance, parked in his normal spot, locked the door and planned to come back out to get his violin. Instead, he lost track of time and fell asleep. He says the one night he left his most prized possession in the car, it disappeared.

Sanville is a third generation violinist.

The 1928 Giuseppe Fiorini violin he's played since college, and plays around the city with his company Divisi Strings, belonged to his mother.

"I kind of have it on loan from her. She got it when she was 18. It's something she and my grandfather did a search for themselves and picked out together, and it was something they shared, and something we shared, and now it's history is lost," he said.

He says someone got into his locked car, leaving no signs of forced entry, and stole the violin. The car was parked outside his Montrose apartment with surveillance cameras just feet away.

"You would think it's a deterrent, but I guess not," Sanville said.

He called HPD and told Eyewitness News they think the violin will have a better chance of popping up than most stolen property since it's so specialized.

"There's not going to be any more of them, for one thing," said Peter Shaw. "He Giuseppe Fiorini was a fairly prolific maker and made about 500 violins. But there's a limited number of them, they have a particularly good sound, so at a certain point they become very desirable."

Peter Shaw owns Amati Violin Shop in Rice Village. He says every violin shop in town is on the lookout.

"They can't sell that violin to a violin shop. If they bring it in here and I can't get the police here in time, I might give them $500 for it just to get it off the street. But I'm gonna call the police the minute they come in here," Shaw said.

"I know personally, I can tell you every nick, every nuance of how it looks. It means a lot to me, but it may not mean anything to somebody trying to pick up on the cheap," added Sanville.

He's offering a reward to get his violin back -- no questions asked.

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