Monday 25 September 2023
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Family reunited with stolen antique musical instruments after spotting them on auction site

A family have been reunited with stolen antique musical instruments after spotting them online on an auction-selling website.

The Retford family were left devastated after the high valued instruments were taken from their late mother’s home who sadly died with coronavirus in May.

Mike Gleaden discovered that a flute and piccolo made by Rudal Carte & Co with matching serial numbers were online being auctioned in North Yorkshire.


The overjoyed victim said: “We’re all obviously delighted to have the instruments back. It was a huge relief to have them back in our hands and back where they belong.

“I think if I hadn’t organised a number of alerts and notifications to let me know when a piccolo and flute matching the description were going on sale, we’d never have seen them again.

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“As soon as they were stolen, I set up alerts on various well known online auction sites. Thankfully we knew the serial numbers and without that I think it would have been a lost cause.

“Amazingly we had tracked them down. It was brilliant to be able to ring the auction house and thankfully we got them taken down quickly. It was then just a case of the police liaising with them and then organising them to be posted back to Nottinghamshire.

“I’d like to thank the police and the auction house for all their work and understanding, as well as the capabilities of the internet!  I was always quietly optimistic that we’d get them back, but after each week passed I lost a little hope.

“I am only disappointed that officers haven’t been able to follow the trail back from the auction house to bring the thief to justice.

“They were completely supportive once they understood the situation, but it seems that somewhere in the train of custody there was a disreputable antique dealer who paid cash for the instruments to a walk-in customer without apparently noting who they were buying from.”

Mr Gleaden originally noticed the items had been taken after moving furniture with his brother ahead of the empty property being sold.

He quickly rang the police after discovering a number of sentimental items belonging to his late parents had been taken. Two silver watches, a silver cigarette case, silver napkin rings and a silver christening mug were all stolen, along with the musical instruments.

The 61-year-old lost his mum earlier this year aged 88, she was a week shy of her 89th birthday. He said: “My poor mum died in May after contracting the coronavirus in Doncaster Royal infirmary while recuperating from a stroke. We’ve obviously had a really difficult year, so at least we’ve finally had some good news.

“These items are hugely sentimental to my family. All the items belonged to my parents, being handed down from their own parents.  The flute and piccolo originally belonged to my grandfather, who was a bandsman and stretcher-bearer with the Sherwood Foresters in the First World War and took the instruments with him to France in the trenches.

“They are at least 100 years old and could be quite valuable. They were left to my father as a five-year-old when my grandfather died as an indirect result of being gassed.  Dad was musical too, having played the church organ at Babworth for many years.

“My brother will now look after them, as he was due to inherit them before they were stolen.

“We were shocked when we made the discovery that the items had been taken from the home, not least because my brother and I had been in the house for around an hour moving furniture and not noticed anything disturbed. It wasn’t until we were in the garden, we spotted some keys on the floor.

“We’re still appealing to anyone who comes across the other missing items, we are still looking online for them, but sadly don’t think we’ll have a similar positive result this time.”

The incident happened between 22-24 July when the house in Ordsall Road, Retford, was broken into and several items were taken.

Detective Constable Caroline Bailey is leading the investigation. She said: “We are delighted for the family that they have had the instruments returned to them.

“However, a number of items are still missing and we are still keen to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious around the time.

“The silver tankard (pictured) was also inscribed ‘Simon James 12th February 1964’, as well a cigarette case which came back from China from Mr Gleaden’s grandfather.

“We are appealing to anyone who may have come across the items at a car boot sale or on an online auction site. If you recognise the items, we’d love to hear from you.

“The Gleaden family have gone through a horrendous 2020 so far, so it was nice to give them something to smile about.

“Please call 101, quoting incident number 374 of 25 July 2020 if you think you can help with the outstanding items.”