Flutist Leaves $22,000 Flute on Chicago Train
Donald Rabin was on a visit to the Windy City, and it quickly became one he'll never forget.
On January 29th, Donald boarded the blue line train on his way to visit a friend in the city. He'd just spent two weeks visiting family in St. Louis, and was trying hard to manage his suitcase, laptop, and his flute. He was only stopping for the weekend before he flew home to Somerville, Massachusetts.
When the doors opened at his stop, he grabbed his things and barreled up the stairs to find a ride.
As he waited, panic set in.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” Donald remembered thinking. “I don’t have my flute.”
For four hours he hopped from train to train, still hauling his luggage, looking for the $22,000 instrument he bought with inheritance from his grandmother who had died of breast cancer. It's made of silver and 18-karat gold.
“There has got to be some good soul out there who turned it in,” Donald thought. “I’m going to put all my faith in this person.”
He wasn't wrong, someone had found it.
On January 30th, Gabe Coconate, the owner of West Town Jewelry and Loan, was closing up his shop for the day when two men and a woman came in and offered to sell him a silver and gold flute.
Gabe said one of the men, "Lukas Mcentee," was looking for $7,500 for the instrument and spun a story of how the flute belonged to his dead father.
“I hear my-mom-and-my-dad-dying stories all the time,” Gabe said, speaking of his skepticism about the instrument.
In normal practice, Gabe loaned him $500 for the weekend while he did research on the instrument. He put the flute, a photo of "Lukas" and his date of birth onto LeadsOnline, a website dedicated for locating stolen goods.
The next night, Gabe and his wife were watching the news when a story came up about a missing flute. His wife asked if it was the flute he had in the shop, which he already knew the answer to, and called the Chicago Police Department.
On February 1st, Lukas and his girlfriend came back and asked for the flute back, saying other stores had offered up to $10,000 for it. Taking the advice of the CPD, Gabe lied and told him it'd been sent away for appraisal.
The next day, Lukas returned with a wad of cash and demanded the flute back.
“I said, ‘Lukas, this has been all over the news,’” Gabe said, “‘You’re not in trouble. You did not steal it, but it’s not your flute.’”
“Finders, keepers,” Lukas said, just as he began to get irritated.
Gabe called the police, who explained the flute was evidence in an investigation, and that he needed to leave.
Meanwhile, Donald had flown back to Boston, and when he got off the plane, he'd received text messages from Lukas apologizing for picking up the flute. He said he'd return it, if Donald would wire him $550 to cover shipping and to reimburse him for the loan he'd gotten from Gabe's pawnshop.
The CPD told Donald not to send any money, and that they'd recovered the flute. He flew to Chicago to pick up his flute, and as a thank you, played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for the officers.
Donald said he felt terrible Gabe's pawnshop was out $500, and raised money to repay him for his diligence.
Lukas has since raised $13,000 on a GoFundMe page that says he and his girlfriend have been homeless for a few years. Donald's sent him over $100.
“I really understand what it was like to not have money,” Donald said, who has taken out loans to pay for school and had to borrow money from friends to pay rent. “We’re only humans on this planet. Everyone is bound to make mistakes in this way.”
Read more at NY Times