Custom bass stolen from musician's car in San Francisco

- A musician whose rare 1920's German upright bass was stolen out of her parked car in San Francisco is hoping someone out there can help her get it back.

"It's not just a financial hardship," explained bass owner Elizabeth Lehr. "It's much bigger than that."

Lehr parked her Scion in front of the Conservatory of Music at Van Ness and Oak Streets in San Francisco October 15th. She had just auditioned for the Berkeley Symphony and was going to see at concert at SF Jazz. She returned to find the back passenger window broken and her bass stolen.

"I knew that San Francisco had a lot of car theft," she said. "But I didn't realize it would be as extreme."

Lehr moved from Austin, Texas a year ago, where she says she never really thought about crime.

In San Francisco, police say auto burglaries are up 45 percent this year. San Francisco Police Officer Carlos Manfredi said thieves used to go after phones, until those were able to be locked.

"Ever since that occurred there's been a huge spike on auto burglaries," explained Officer Manfredi, "They're looking for anything to pawn or to hock to make money."

Lehr said she was so distraught after her bass was stolen, she called her sister first, not police. She filed a report online the next day. It may have cost valuable evidence looking for witnesses, surveillance video, and fingerprints.

"A classical musical instrument that's worth tens of thousands of dollars, that's a situation where you need to contact police," Manfredi cautioned. "This is a musical instrument that worth $20,000. That's expensive. That will raise a red flag and our officers will be out there."

Manfredi points out they've been able to recover other expensive stolen instruments in the past because they were reported immediately.

Because car burglaries are on the rise, police say never keep anything in sight inside a car. Hide items in the trunk before reaching your destination, so potential thieves don't see you tucking things in the trunk.

Lehr said this was a tough lesson to learn,

"Beyond the money it's a really, really rare instrument, "It's not just a financial hardship, it's much bigger than that."

Lehr said she's hoping for a happy ending. She is offering a reward for the return of her beloved instrument. If you have any information, call SFPD.

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