Violin

Vintage violin stolen from South Loop musician’s home as family slept

Surveillance video shows burglar waiting outside home for about 45 minutes

CHICAGO — With less than two weeks until her performance at the University of Chicago, a talented violinist is filled with grief.

The Italian instrument that Minghuan Xu had been playing for 20 years has disappeared.

“Losing something like this is completely heartbreaking for me because I’m a professional violinist,” Minghuan Xu said.

Completely devastated, the violinist says the theft is like “losing my own voice”.

Worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Xu’s 1758 Nicolas Gagliano violin was loaned to him by a private sponsor. With its prodigious skill, the exquisite instrument elevated Xu to great heights.

Husband and pianist Winston Choi says Wednesday morning’s brazen robbery in the 1300 block of Plymouth Court in Chicago’s South Loop also upset him.

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The theft occurred while Xu, Choi and their two young children were sleeping in their townhouse.

“Our dog was barking, and I just thought it was our neighbor going to work early,” Xu said.

Xu says she fell asleep until a motion sensor in the garage went off, signaling that a stranger was in the house.

“We had family in the house,” Xu said. “We were very worried and scared.”

Chicago First District Police responded to the 911 call. Although authorities searched the home and garage, the burglar had already fled.

“That’s when I realized my violin was gone,” Xu said. “It was very traumatic for us.”

The thief also stole a cheap violin and her son’s small cello. But Xu says there is no evidence that the culprit deliberately targeted the high-priced violin.

“I really think it was a random act,” Xu said. “I don’t think he was targeted at all.”

A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured the suspect meandering through the parking lot.

“He had a small video camera showing that he had been outside our garage for about 45 minutes,” Xu said.

The fiddler assumed the thief was looking for garage door openers before gaining access to the family car.

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“So I just hope that my violin will somehow show up and be found and come back to me so I can play it again,” Xu said.

In the meantime, Xu says she’s looking to get a violin ready in time for her next performance here at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center on the evening of May 20.