UPDATE: Second man charged with violin theft pleads guilty

UPDATED Friday, October 3, 2014 -- 10:25 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The man whom police describe as the mastermind of a plot to steal a $5 million Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee has pleaded guilty to robbery.

Salah Salahadyn previously pleaded not guilty to party to felony robbery charges, but changed his plea in court Friday. Salahadyn was taken into custody after entering the plea.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 10. The charge carries a maximum 10 years in prison.

The other man charged in the case, Universal K. Allah, pleaded guilty in May to being party to felony robbery and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors say he provided the stun gun used to attack a concertmaster in January as he left a performance.

Police recovered the 300-year-old Stradivarius in good condition after nine days.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Thursday, July 24, 2014 -- 4:51 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee man whose stun gun was used in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin in January has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Universal K. Allah pleaded guilty in May to being party to felony robbery. Milwaukee County Judge Dennis Moroney told him Thursday it was "disconcerting" that he would engage in a crime that caused so much pain to his community.

Salah (suh-LAH') Salahadyn (suh-LAH'-ha-deen) is also charged in this case. His plea hearing was postponed Thursday after his public defender withdrew from the case for unspecified reasons.

Court documents say Salahadyn was the aggressor who'd been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

Prosecutors say Salahadyn used Allah's stun gun to attack a concertmaster and steal his violin following a performance. The violin was recovered in good condition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Thursday, July 24, 2014 --- 6:50 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee man who pleaded guilty to a role in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin is due to be sentenced, and his co-defendant is expected to change his not-guilty plea.

Salah Salahadyn and Universal K. Allah are both due in court Thursday.

Salahadyn initially pleaded not guilty to felony robbery. His attorney has requested a new plea date, which suggests Salahadyn plans to change his plea.

Allah pleaded guilty to felony robbery. Prosecutors say he provided the stun gun used to attack a concertmaster in January as he left a performance. Allah's attorney has said Allah wasn't at the scene of the robbery.

Prosecutors say Salahadyn been plotting for a while to steal a Stradivarius.

Police recovered the 300-year-old Stradivarius in good condition after nine days.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 2:42 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A plea hearing has been postponed for a Milwaukee man accused of stealing a $5 million Stradivarius violin.

Salah Salahadyn pleaded not guilty in February to being a party to felony robbery. He later asked to enter a new plea. A hearing for that was set for Monday, but the judge postponed proceedings due to scheduling issues.

The new plea hearing will be July 24. That's the same day Salahadyn's co-defendant is to be sentenced. Thirty-six-year-old Universal K. Allah pleaded guilty in May to being party to robbery.

The 300-year-old violin was missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition.

Salahadyn was convicted in 2000 of trying to resell a $25,000 statue to an art gallery owner from whom it had been stolen.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 10:20 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The second of two Milwaukee men accused in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin is expected to reverse his not-guilty plea.

Salah Salahadyn pleaded not guilty in February to being a party to felony theft. But last month his attorney requested a new plea hearing.

The 42-year-old Salahadyn is due in court Monday afternoon. A message left with his public defender, Alejandro Lockwood, wasn't immediately returned.

His 36-year-old co-defendant pleaded guilty to being party to robbery last month. Universal K. Allah is scheduled to be sentenced July 24.

The 300-year-old violin was missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition.

Salahadyn pleaded guilty in 2000 to trying to resell a $25,000 statue to the art gallery owner from whom it had been stolen.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 28, 2014 --- 9:29 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- One of two Milwaukee men accused in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin a few months ago has pleaded guilty to robbery.

Online court records say 36-year-old Universal K. Allah was convicted Wednesday morning. His sentencing hearing is set for late July.

He and Salah Salahadyn were charged with felony robbery in the case. Salahadyn pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled for another plea hearing on June 30.

A criminal complaint says Allah provided the stun gun used to attack and rob a violin concertmaster. The complaint says Salahadyn had been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

The 300-year-old violin was missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition.

A message left with Allah's public defender, Paul Ksicinski, was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 28, 2014 --- 6:31 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- One of the two Milwaukee men accused in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin a few months ago is expected to enter a plea.

Thirty-six-year-old Universal K. Allah is scheduled for a plea hearing Wednesday morning. His sentencing hearing is set for late July.

Allah had previously pleaded not guilty.

Allah and Salah Salahadyn are charged with felony robbery in the case. Salahadyn has also pleaded not guilty.

A criminal complaint says Allah provided the stun gun used to attack and rob a violin concertmaster. The complaint says Salahadyn had been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

The 300-year-old violin was missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition.

Allah's public defender, Paul Ksicinski, has declined to comment while the case was ongoing.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, March 26, 2014 --- 10:26 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A man has pleaded not guilty to robbery charges stemming from the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee two months ago.

Online court records say 36-year-old Universal K. Allah entered the plea Wednesday morning.

Allah and Salah Salahadyn are charged with felony robbery in the case. Salahadyn pleaded not guilty last month.

Prosecutors in Allah's case handed over about 20 CDs worth of evidence Wednesday. Allah's public defender, Paul Ksicinski, says he can't comment until he's had a chance to look through all the material.

A criminal complaint says Allah provided the stun gun used to attack and rob a violin concertmaster. The complaint says Salahadyn had been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

Police recovered the 300-year-old violin in good condition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 25, 2014 --- 4:17 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A second Milwaukee man accused in the theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin in January is also expected to plead not guilty to robbery charges.

Universal K. Allah is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. He and Salah Salahadyn are accused of felony robbery.

Salahadyn pleaded not guilty last month. Allah's defense attorney, Paul Ksicinski, said Tuesday he plans to enter a not-guilty plea on his client's behalf Wednesday.

Ksicinski says he's still waiting to receive police reports in the case.

Prosecutors say the 36-year-old Allah provided the stun gun used to attack and rob violin virtuoso Frank Almond. The criminal complaint says Salahadyn had been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

The 300-year-old violin was missing for nine days before police recovered it in good condition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, February 17, 2014 --- 3:22 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee man accused in last month's theft of a $5 million violin has pleaded not guilty.

Online court records say Salah Salahadyn entered the plea Monday after waiving his preliminary hearing.

The 41-year-old is charged with being a party to robbery. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Public defender Alejandro Lockwood declined to comment afterward.

Salahadyn and 36-year-old Universal K. Allah are both charged in the theft. A 300-year-old Stradivarius was stolen from a Milwaukee concertmaster in a stun-gun attack Jan. 27 but police recovered the instrument in good condition nine days later.

Salahadyn served five years for a previous conviction for art theft. Prosecutors say he'd been plotting for a while to steal a Stradivarius.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, February 17, 2014 --- 9:07 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The attorney for a Milwaukee man accused in last month's theft of a $5 million violin says his client will plead not guilty.

Salah Salahadyn is due in court Monday afternoon for a preliminary hearing. The 41-year-old is charged with being a party to robbery, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Public defender Alejandro Lockwood tells The Associated Press his client will plead not guilty Monday. Lockwood declined further comment, saying he'll reserve his remarks for the courtroom.

Salahadyn and 36-year-old Universal K. Allah are charged in the theft. A 300-year-old Stradivarius was stolen from a Milwaukee concertmaster in a stun-gun attack but police recovered it in good condition nine days later.

Salahadyn has a previous conviction for art theft.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 11, 2014 --- 2:31 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra says he was relieved that a $5 million Stradivarius violin stolen last month was still in good condition when police recovered it nine days later.

Frank Almond said Tuesday the violin had some cosmetic issues but was otherwise in good shape.

A robber shocked the 50-year-old Almond with a stun gun Jan. 27 and robbed him of the 300-year-old violin. It was recovered in the attic of a Milwaukee home, and two men have been charged with being party to robbery.

Almond says he's wary about taking additional security precautions, in part because that might draw more attention to the instrument, but safety protocols will be reviewed.

He also says publicity around the theft might help renew interest in the Milwaukee symphony.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 11, 2014 --- 2:16 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The two suspects accused in last month's theft of a $5 million Stradivarius violin are out of jail.

Online court records Tuesday said a $10,000 cash bond was posted for 41-year-old Salah Salahadyn and a $500 cash bond for Universal Allah.

Both men were charged last week with being a party to robbery. A court commissioner imposed the higher bond on Salahadyn because he has a lengthy criminal record that includes art theft.

Prosecutors say Allah provided the stun gun used to attack and rob violin virtuoso Frank Almond. The criminal complaint says Salahadyn had been plotting to steal a Stradivarius.

Allah's defense attorney, Paul Ksicinski notes the complaint says his client wasn't at the robbery scene.

Salahadyn's public defender, Alejandro Lockwood, did not immediately return a message Tuesday.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 11, 2014 ---- 7:23 a.m.

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) -- Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster has returned to the stage to play the multi-million dollar violin recovered after it was stolen in a well-publicized heist.

Uniformed police officers were present when Frank Almond played to a packed house at a Brookfield performing arts center Monday night. Almond received a standing ovation of support even before playing a note.

It was Almond's first public performance since he was shocked with a stun gun and robbed of the 300-year-old Stradivarius Jan. 27 following a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Two Milwaukee men are charged with party to robbery after the violin was found in the attic of a house in Milwaukee.

Concertgoer Sue D'Alessio says she didn't want to miss Almond's return and his gift of music.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Sunday, February 9, 2014 --- 6:51 p.m.

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) -- For the first time since his now famous instrument was stolen, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond plans to take the stage with the valuable Stradivarius violin.

Tickets for Monday night's performance at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts are selling fast.

WITI-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1bKQeso ) Almond has been booked at the center for the last year. Executive director Jonathan Winkle says ticket sales spiked after the violin was recovered Thursday. He says 250 tickets to the classical chamber music performance sold in a day-and-a-half.

The center seats 620 people.

Winkle says he's expecting many first-time visitors who want to see the Stradivarius violin and hear it played.

The "Frankly Music" performance is at 7 p.m. Monday.

Two men have been charged in connection with the violin heist.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Friday, February 7, 2014 --- 3:07 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Two men suspected in last month's heist of a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee have been criminally charged.

Forty-one-year-old Salah Salahadyn and 36-year-old Universal Knowledge Allah were each charged Friday with party to robbery. Salahadyn was previously identified as Salah Jones.

Court Commissioner Katharine Kucharski ordered Allah held on $500 cash bail, noting his lack of a criminal record.

The criminal complaint says Allah's stun gun was used in the attack. Allah's defense attorney, Paul Ksicinski (cha-CHIN'-skee), says according to the complaint his client wasn't at the scene of the attack.

Salahadyn hasn't appeared in court yet. Online court records don't list a defense attorney for him.

The 300-year-old violin is valued at $5 million. It was stolen in a January attack and recovered Wednesday night in apparently good condition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, February 7, 2014 --- 12:58 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Two men suspected in the heist of a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee have been criminally charged.

Forty-one-year-old Salah Salahadyn and 36-year-old Universal Knowledge Allah are each charged with party to robbery. Salahadyn was previously identified as Salah Jones.

Allah is also charged with possessing marijuana.

The two men do not have attorneys listed in online court records.

A woman who was arrested with the two and previously released was not charged Friday.

The 300-year-old violin, valued at $5 million, was stolen from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond after a January performance at a Wisconsin college.

Police found the rare instrument late Wednesday night in a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee home. They say it appears to be in good condition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, February 7, 2014 --- 5:08 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee County prosecutors are expected to file felony robbery charges against a suspect accused of electrocuting a Milwaukee concertmaster with a stun gun last week and robbing him of a $5 million violin.

District attorney John Chisholm says he expects a criminal complaint to be filed Friday morning.

Police had also arrested two other suspects. Chisholm declined to say Thursday whether they or anyone else might be charged.

The 300-year-old Stradivarius violin was stolen Jan. 27. Police recovered it late Wednesday night after an investigation led them to the attic of a Milwaukee home, where they found it in a suitcase. Police say it appears to be in good condition.

One of the suspects was previously convicted of stealing a $25,000 statue from a Milwaukee art gallery.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 6, 2014 --- 1:33 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he was surprised to learn he had received a haircut from one of the suspects in the theft of a multi-million dollar Stradivarius violin.

The man worked at a Milwaukee barber shop.

Barrett says he was walking through the neighborhood, stopped into the shop to say hello and was asked if he wanted a haircut. He said yes.

The mayor said Thursday that after the suspect was arrested, his staff discovered a picture of him in the barber's chair on the suspect's Facebook page.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says tips from the public and the ability to track a stun gun helped police identify suspects in the theft of a multi-million dollar Stradivarius violin.

The violin was stolen in January from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond, who was shocked with a stun gun.

Flynn said Thursday that officers worked with the maker of the stun gun to identify one suspect.

He says a tip led officers to another suspect, who has a previous art theft conviction.

Flynn says one suspect led officers to the home where the violin was found in a suitcase in the attic. He says the homeowner was an acquaintance of the suspect and doesn't seem to have known what was in the suitcase.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 6, 2014 --- 12:55 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Authorities say the rare multimillion dollar Stradivarius violin stolen last month in Wisconsin has been recovered.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett praised investigators at a news conference Thursday for their work in recovering the violin. The instrument was taken from concertmaster Frank Almond in a brazen attack outside Wisconsin Lutheran College on Jan. 27.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the theft.

Almond was walking to his car after a performance at the college when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the Stradivarius, which was on loan to him. The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

The violin was crafted in 1715 and has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 6, 2014 --- 7:25 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Police say they have recovered a violin that could be the rare Stradivarius stolen from a concertmaster following a performance last month at a Milwaukee college.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Jeffrey Norman said Thursday that experts will be contacted to confirm the authenticity of the violin.

Authorities are holding three suspects in the Jan. 27 theft of the historic violin, crafted in 1715 and appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million.

Two men, ages 41 and 36, and a 32-year-old woman, are in custody.

Concertmaster Frank Almond was walking to his car following a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the Stradivarius on loan to him. The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 5, 2014 --- 5:30 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee police have not recovered a valuable violin stolen last month, despite the arrests of three people in connection with the theft.

Police Chief Ed Flynn said Wednesday the search continues for the so-called Lipinski Stradivarius. The $5 million instrument was stolen from a Milwaukee virtuoso as he walked to his car following a Jan. 27 performance.

Prosecutors say they don't expect any decisions about charges to be made before Thursday.

Police say the robber appeared to be targeting the violin specifically. They say a thief used a stun gun on violinist Frank Almond, grabbed the violin and jumped into a waiting vehicle.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 5, 2014 --- 12:54 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee County prosecutors say three people have been arrested in connection with the theft of a multi-million dollar Stradivarius violin stolen from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster.

Assistant District Attorney Kent Lovern said Wednesday he couldn't reveal any information beyond the arrests. He says he doesn't expect a charging decision to be made before Thursday.

Police say the nearly 300-year-old violin was on loan to concertmaster Frank Almond. Authorities say a robber used a stun gun on Almond and took the instrument from him in a parking lot of Wisconsin Lutheran College, where he had just performed Jan. 27.

The violin has been appraised at $5 million.

An anonymous source recently offered $100,000 for the safe return of the violin.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, January 31, 2014 --- 4:08 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An anonymous source is offering $100,000 for the safe return of a nearly 300-year-old Stradivarius violin stolen from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster.

The rare violin was on loan to Frank Almond from an anonymous donor.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said the robber used a stun gun on Almond and took the instrument Monday evening in a parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College, where Almond had just preformed.

The reward is offered to anyone who can provide information which results in the violin's safe return.

MSO president and executive director Mark Niehaus says they are hopeful the reward will help in the violin's recovery.

Police Lt. Mark Stanmeyer says they are continuing to investigate and haven't made any arrests. Milwaukee police can be reached at (414) 935-7360.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, January 29, 2014 --- 5:30 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Experts say whoever stole a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee would have a hard time selling it.

The rare violin was on loan to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond. The robber used a stun gun on Almond and took the instrument from him Monday night in a parking lot behind Wisconsin Lutheran College, where Almond had just preformed

A retired FBI expert tells the Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1egwI83 ) he expects the motive is similar to that of high-end art thefts.

Robert K. Wittman says such thefts are not about possessing an antique -- the goal is getting paid by someone to take it or trying to sell it.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said the violin is valued in the "high seven figures."

Police and the FBI are investigating.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 28, 2014 --- 7:09 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee police are investigating the theft of a 300-year-old violin.

The rare Stradivarius violin was on loan to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond. Police said Tuesday that the robber used a stun gun on Almond before taking the violin Monday night in a parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the instrument is the so-called Lipinski Stradivarius, crafted in 1715.

In a 2008 newspaper story, Chicago violin dealer Stefan Hersh said the violin's value could be comparable to another Stradivarius that sold for more than $3.5 million in 2006.

The instrument was on indefinite loan to Almond from its anonymous owners. The violin's previous owners include virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who was known for his "Devil's Trill" Sonata, and Polish violinist Karol Lipinski.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Tuesday, January 28, 2014 --- 5:20 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee police say they are investigating the theft of an "exceptionally valuable" Stradivarius violin.

The rare violin was on loan to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond. Police said Tuesday that it was stolen during an armed robbery Monday night in a parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the instrument is a so-called Lipinski Stradivarius, crafted in 1715.

In a 2008 newspaper story, Chicago violin dealer Stefan Hersh said the violin's value could be comparable to another Stradivarius that sold for more than $3.5 million in 2006.

The instrument was on indefinite loan to Almond from its anonymous owners. The violin's previous owners include virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who was known for his "Devil's Trill" Sonata, and Polish violinist Karol Lipinski.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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Posted Tuesday, January 28, 2014 --- 4:17 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee police say they are investigating the theft of an "exceptionally valuable" Stradivarius violin.

Police say the Stradivarius violin was taken during an armed robbery Monday night in a parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

More details about the robbery are to be released Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


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