I left a 300 year-old cello in my car and it got stolen

I left a 300 year-old cello in my car and it got stolen


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2015

Glendale police in California are searching for a maroon 2007 Acura ATL sedan, which was stolen on November 1 from the  Embassy Suites Hotel parking lot at 800 N. Central Ave. The car had a 300 year-old cello in the trunk.

The cello has a label ‘Antonio Domenicelli Fecit en Ferrara 1714’.

If you are offered it, call Glendale police at 818-548-4911. There’s a reward.

glendale cello

police photo

Next day, another instrument theft from a parked car.


  • Robert says:

    With GPS technology today it ought to possible to devise a tracking device that could be embedded in a scroll or tailpiece to help locate wandering instruments.

    Is anyone doing that?

    But I’m surprised a 2007 Acura didn’t have such a thing anyway.

    • Scott Fields says:

      Yes, two types of electronic musical instrument trackers are being used. One is GPS units that are installed in cases or on the instruments itself. The other is a RFID reader (again, in the case or instrument( that police and other folks can use to ID instruments that are registered in a database.


  • V.Lind says:

    I’M surprised that anyone would leave a 300-year-old cello in the back of a car. Of course I hope he gets it back, but quite a few of the recent thefts reported here recently seem to me to have been down to the stupidity of the owners. I mean, really, you think someone wants to steal an 8-year-old Accura?

  • Frank Almond says:

    @Robert and Mr. Fields:

    I’ve been researching GPS tracking possibilities for high-end string instruments and paintings for over a decade, (well before my own criminal saga), so just a few quick comments:

    Mr. Fields is correct in that Tempo devices (and some others) can work with instrument cases. But as of now there is no GPS tracking device commercially available that is small enough to fit inside a cello without substantively invading the body (and sound) of the instrument, nor does that address the issue of a power source (most portable GPS units are battery-based and need to be recharged every few days at a minimum). There is no extant unit even remotely small enough to install inside a violin, and you’d still have the power issues. “Commercially” meaning it is possible that very small GPS devices are currently in use for military purposes but are not available to the general public (yet).

    RFID chips could conceivably be installed in any instrument to positively identify it with an existing database once you are nearby. But they are useless for tracking due to their inherently limited range (about 300 ft./ 91 meters average).

    The idea that there’s some magic tracking technology to install in a scroll or tailpiece simply does not exist at the moment (sadly), except in Hollywood. Fortunately there are other options available to help in the extremely rare case (statistically) that someone steals a high-end instrument, intentionally or not. The fact is that most rare string instruments become worthless the minute they are stolen- there’s no “aftermarket” for them at that point.

    I think the more germane question in this case is unrelated: who is “Antonio Domenicelli”? Any information on this luthier from SD readers (or anyone else) would be welcome.