‘Completely in shock’: After instrument burglaries, student hopes for return of $10,000 violin

As the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department investigates reports of nearly $30,000 worth of stolen instruments, one music student is hoping for the return of her beloved violin.

“At first it didn’t seem real,” said Samantha Carter, whose violin, which has an estimated value of $10,000, disappeared over Thanksgiving break.

Theft is one of the most common crimes campus police deal with, but investigating a string of instrument burglaries is rare, according to public information officer Marc Lovicott.

“It’s horrible whenever you hear about it,” graduate student Thomas Huffmaster said. “It would devastate me and anyone here.”

Huffmaster’s tuba is safe, but he heard about the stolen instruments, including Carter’s violin.

“It’s ​​​​l​​​ike losing a member of your family or a part of yourself,” Carter said.

Carter kept her violin by her side for six years and needs it for rehearsals and practicing for grad school auditions in January. Instead, it’s in someone else’s hands.

“It’s completely unpredictable what’s going to happen between now and then,” Carter said.

She said she’d ask whoever took her violin to “consider the lives you’re affecting by doing this.”

Carter is sure she locked it up in the basement of the Humanities building Nov. 27 and came back Sunday afternoon to find it gone.

“I was just kind of completely in shock,” Carter said. “Then I started to panic.”

UW police said they’re investigating reports of six instruments stolen — everything from a piccolo to a cello, altogether worth about $28,000.

“When you think about how valuable these instruments are, not only monetarywise, but we’ve heard from students who have tests or final exams involving their instrument coming up soon, and now they have nothing to play,” Lovicott said, adding that, since it appears there was forced entry, these crimes are classified as burglaries, which the Police Department is making it a priority to solve.

“We’re asking our community to keep their eyes and ears open for us,” he said.

The Police Department’s investigation includes keeping an eye on ads for instruments, which is something Carter is asking others to do, as well, hoping to bring her violin back safe and sound.

“I’ve made so many sacrifices for this instrument and I’ve been through so much with this instrument,” Carter said. “You could hand me a check for $10,000 and it’s not going to be the same as getting the instrument I know and loved.”

According to the director of UW’s School of Music, Susan Cook, these types of incidents are rare.

“We are doing everything we can to support the students who have been affected,” Cook said, adding that the school is loaning them instruments and will review security procedures.

Lovicott said police are working with Humanities staff on security, as well, aiming to prevent similar incidents in the future.

UWPD has asked anyone with information on the burglaries to call the police department at 608-264-2677.

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