Violin found, suspect arrested on Muni

May 6, 2011 12:42:04 AM PDT
There is an arrest in San Francisco in the case of a stolen violin and the suspected thief who was caught on camera with the instrument. Those images, along with tips from the public, helped police make the arrest after the suspect dropped off the violin at an unexpected location.

The suspect was arrested Thursday around 8 p.m.; about 10 hours after dropping off the violin at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. The instrument is still being processed as evidence, but the owner should be getting it back in a matter of days.

Emily Cox is still playing with a borrowed violin, but she'll soon get hers back. Her one-of-a-kind Caressa & Francais Violin, valued at $23,000, was recovered. She went to the police department to confirm it was hers.

"As far as I could tell it looks like it's a little, it's been manhandled a little bit. But you know, nothing that I can't fix. No major cracks or damage," said Cox.

The violin was stolen from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Cox is a student here and left it unattended in a classroom for a few minutes when someone snatched it. Emily was devastated. She's had the violin for 11 years.

"It's like your child or your pet. It's not easily replaceable," said Cox.

Fortunately, a classmate saw the thief board a Muni train. Cameras captured him getting on board. The video led to several tips that helped police confirm his identity, and while they couldn't get a hold of him directly, they did talk to his mother. She said her son, 27-year-old Scott Sylvster of San Francisco, would return the violin, not at a police station, but at St. Mary's Cathedral. Receptionist Michael McKeon was there; he says the suspect was with his girlfriend.

"The lady was answering for him and said that she would like to leave this package here. Her friend made some sort of mistake he would like to correct," said McKeon.

For Cox, all of this comes as a shock. People she knows who've lost instruments usually never get them back. She's now grateful and says she's learned a valuable lesson.

"Always take your instrument with you. Don't leave it anywhere, even in a place where you think it's secure," said Cox.

Police say they arrested the suspect, Scott Sylvester, on Muni. Officers approached him after receiving reports that a man was acting strangely on the bus. They immediately recognized him as the violin suspect and arrested him. He is being booked on burglary, grand theft and possession of stolen property.


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