The passenger on the Silver Line Metro train first noticed the leather instrument case with a cannonball logo. Then he saw that the man who was carrying it also had a flute.
The case held a Gerald Albright signature series Cannonball saxophone. Along with the flute, it had been stolen from the Middle C Music store in Tenleytown. The sax was first taken on Thursday. It was mysteriously returned Saturday, then taken again in yet another burglary Sunday.
On Tuesday, the passenger on the Metro, on his way to his job at Middle C Music, recognized the instruments as coming from the store on Wisconsin Avenue. He watched the man through seven stops, from Potomac Avenue to Metro Center, and saw him disappear into a clothing shop. The worker alerted authorities, and D.C. police arrested the suspect.
And now, for the second time in five days, the same prized saxophone worth $4,400 has been rescued. The employee whose sharp eye and good luck seeing his own store’s stolen property on city’s sprawling transit system, is, as he puts it, “kind of a miracle.”
The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is a witness in a criminal case. But his boss and store owner, Myrna Sislen, said she is “of course happy to have the horn back” but also worried that “if this guy gets out, he will come and do this again.”
D.C. police identified the suspect as Vincent Stuart Hamond, 55. He is charged with two counts of burglary in connection with the Thursday and Sunday break-ins at the shop, both of which were captured on security video. In each case, entry was gained by bashing in the front glass door.
Sislen said that her store has been targeted in a series of attempted break-ins since last summer but that Thursday was the first time someone went inside. In that burglary, she said an older man wearing a white hat went directly for the Cannonball sax hanging high on a display wall. She said he took a chair, stood on it and removed the Cannonball saxophone. She said he then took a rental flute.
On Saturday, she said a person who wouldn’t give his name called the store to say he had the saxophone and was downtown. A second call came from a security guard who said the instrument had been left at an office building.
Sislen said when she retrieved it, the horn had a distinctive mouthpiece, reed and ligature, used to hold the mouthpiece in place.
Police took those items as evidence, and Sislen returned the sax to its case and put it behind her desk. Early Sunday, police said the man struck again, and is seen on video smashing in the front door with a club. The person again took the Cannonball saxophone, along with a clarinet, another flute and a box of No. 3 reeds.
Sislen said it appears from the video that the culprit targeted the Cannonball sax, an instrument recognized by musicians and prized for its smooth sound. She said she believes the man who took it “knew exactly what he wanted.”
Based on the instrument taken, along with the reeds and mouthpiece, she said, “This guy is a player.”
Correction: This story was updated to correct the spelling of Vincent Stuart Hamond’s name after police released an incorrect spelling.