Recently I reunited another stolen horn with its owner. That makes 3 in a little under 2 years. I thought it would be good to share some of the subtle (and not so subtle) things that raise alarms when I'm offered a horn to purchase or sell which cause me to think the instrument is stolen.
More often than not if the deal is 'too good to be true' it probably is.
- When a Pawn shop called me inquiring if I wanted to purchase a horn (which they legally aquired) the price was a few thousand dollars below what I knew the horn was worth. I declined buying it, and almost 3 months later was talking with a customer who informed me they were replacing their stolen horn. Yep, it was the one in the Pawn shop and it was still there. This isn't a hard and fast rule. Recently I declined buying an instrument which was again way under priced, but even though I couldn't find evidence of it being 'hot' I passed on it.
Does the seller know anything about the 'trumpet' :) they're offeriing?
- If walks into my shop and wants to sell me the 'trumpet' they've had in the family for ages it could simply be a case of mistaken identity OR it could be that they're trying to get rid of it fast because it's hot. Craigslist and ebay are full of such items. Buyer beware. I always ask a few questions of the seller about the instrument if they claim to be the owner. 'Oh? where did you used to play? Where did you buy such a cool horn?' yada yada yada - you get the idea. If they're easily flummoxed you know they're lying (usually).
Purposeful removal of identifying marks.
- Serial number scratched off? College or H.S. ownership stickers defaced beyond legibility? Red flags!
These are just a few obvious ways to tell if that beauty on the wall is a fabulous deal or something that could bite you back!
Happy Horn Hunting!
Ken Pope. Freelance Horn Detective Agency Owner