URBANA — An efficient victim who circulated information about her stolen musical instrument to area music stores, and an employee who had read it, played a major role in the arrest of a Champaign man.
Urbana police investigator Dave Smysor said police were contacted late Monday morning by an employee of The Music Shoppe on Marketview Drive in Champaign that someone had come in trying to sell a French horn.
Smysor said the horn was stolen Nov. 20 from a car in the 600 block of West High Street.
"She was packing her vehicle to head back home. While she was in and out, somebody came by and decided to steal her very expensive, somewhat unique French horn," Smysor said. The instrument was valued at $3,500.
Smysor said the victim printed up fliers with photos of her stolen French horn and circulated them in the music community, including to retail music shops.
"She even had the serial number, which she provided us," Smysor said,
On Monday morning, two men came in the Music Shoppe and one asked about selling the shop a French horn.
An alert employee, aware of the theft, came up with a ruse and told the man he would have to have a manager take a look at it to decide on a value. He asked if the men could leave the horn and come back later, which they did.
In the meantime, the employee contacted Urbana police and Smysor and his supervisor Sgt. Dan Morgan were at the store at noon when the men returned.
"As soon as they walked in and said they were here for the horn, we approached and said we needed to talk," Smysor said, adding he recognized the man trying to get money for the horn as someone he had arrested for burglary two years earlier.
The man was Adrian J. Thomas, 27, who listed an address in the 500 block of West White Street. On Tuesday he was charged with burglary for entering the woman's car on Nov. 20 and theft of stolen property for possessing the horn. Judge Mike Jones set his bond at $3,000 and told him to be back in court Feb. 7.
Smysor said they determined the man with him was not involved and was not arrested.
Smysor said Thomas said he bought the horn from a person who fences stolen goods for $20, with the intent of reselling it for a profit.
"Adrian said he'd done research and knew it was expensive," Smysor said.
He said Morgan contacted the woman Monday about her recovered horn and she was thrilled with the news.
He credited her for being good about disseminating information and The Music Shoppe employee for being clever enough to keep the horn and get the alleged thief to come back.
Smysor said when police left the business with Thomas, they saw a set of golf clubs in his car, which he admitted having stolen from a vehicle in the 500 block of Griggs Street on Sunday night or Monday morning.
It's possible more charges could be filed against him for that.