San Francisco police on lookout for valuable violin

Police in San Francisco on Monday asked for the public's help in finding a college student's stolen violin valued at $15,000.

20-year-old Sunnyvale resident Erica Buonanno was only eight when her parents bought her prized 180-year-old English violin. She says the instrument is worth far more to her than its high price tag.

The violin was made by George Craske and sold by William E. Hill & Sons, London, circa 1835. It is valued at $15,000. It was taken along with Friedricks bow worth $4,000 and an orange-colored Bam case worth $600.

Buonanno, now a junior at Dartmouth College, won several prestigious music competitions throughout Northern California with the rare violin.

"More than its [monetary] value, it has great sentimental value. Because I've grown up with it, you know?" explained Buonanno. "We've competed together. It's my baby."

But Friday night, November 20th, the precious violin was stolen from a friend's car in a smash-and-grab robbery. The car was parked in the Safeway parking lot in San Francisco on the corner of Webster and Geary.

The Buonanno family has posted flyers throughout the area, offering a $1,000 reward for its safe return, no questions asked.

"We are very disappointed about what happened. [The violin has] a very sweet sound," said Erica's mother, Nobuko Buonanno. "It rings well and that's what we liked about it. It was such an encounter to find it. Its sound vibrates and fills up the whole room."

For the past six months, Erica's violin had been in the hands of a friend who was borrowing it to audition for college.

"A violin is something you can't just pick up and play," said Erica, "You have to train with it, you have to... it has to really become a part of you."

Her friend was devastated when the instrument was snatched, because it belonged to Erica and because his future depended on it.

Erica says when auditioning for a Conservatory College, playing a top-notch instrument is key. Her friend's auditions will be held in January and the Buonannos hope the instrument is found before then.

Erica now attends Dartmouth, where she double majors in Music and Government. She plays piano mostly now, but it's the "George Craske" violin that got her this far.

"I planned to give it to my children when I have children," she explained. "And I really hope [my friend] can have it for his auditions. He deserves that."

Erica hopes someone will have a heart and give the violin back

If you see the violin posted on the internet for sale or anywhere else, you are urged to contact SFPD.