Montreal

Arrest made in violin thefts

Montreal police have charged a man with the theft of nine violins valued at about $200,000, stolen earlier this summer from a downtown apartment while the residents were away on holiday.

Montreal police have charged a man with the theft of nine violins valued at about $200,000 which were stolen earlier this summer from a downtown apartment while the residents were away on holiday.

Police found the violins last week using a new computer system that keeps track of sales in pawn shops.

The thief had left a message on the violin owner's answering machine saying he was sorry and explaining that he had sold the instruments to a pawn shop.

"What happened next is they got a call from a friend they knew for 10 years who was in charge of feeding their cat while they were away from home, and he confessed to stealing the violins," said police Const. Olivier Lapointe.

A man in his forties was arrested at his home in downtown Montreal and charged with break, enter and theft.

The police pawn-shop squad tracked down the instruments using sale-tracking computer software acquired recently.

"In 2010, city hall … changed the rules for the pawn shops, and now they have the obligation to download all their information about their transactions every day in our system. We have a computer that checks every file number and serial number to inform us if it is stolen goods," said Cmdr. Guy Ouellete, who leads the squad.

Ouellette said police have monitored pawn shops in the past, but had to track transactions manually.

The new computer system means detectives can access updated pawnshop sales daily.

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