RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond-area musician is looking for the public’s help after the tool most important to his line of work was stolen: his cello.

Midlothian-native Edward “Ned” Haskins said it happened in a matter of moments when he was in between trips from his car to his apartment, unloading groceries.

“I had just come back from the store, picked up stuff, went inside,” he said. “I was in my apartment for just a few minutes. I came back out, and it was gone.”

Haskins said he was unloading groceries in the parking lot of his apartment complex when the cello was stolen. (Photo: Olivia Jaquith)

Haskins said that the cello was inside a cream-colored carrying case, which also contained his two bows. Altogether, he estimates the items will cost $6,000 to replace.

“It’s my livelihood,” Haskins said. “I worked for a long time to be able to buy this instrument.”

Now a professional musician, Haskins runs a booking agency called Ninja Strings, which plays weddings and private events. He said that 2021 is looking to be the most successful year yet, with more than two dozen events booked for him and his fellow musicians. The performance is scheduled for May 1.

“Without this, I have to rely on others in order to do my job,” Haskins said. “When you spend the amount of time practicing that I do and getting proficient at the instrument and maintaining a certain level in order to be able to make a living from it, to get paid, it’s a deep insult.”

Haskins purchased the 2019 Jay Haide L’Ancienne cello in Charlottesville at one of only two locations in Virginia that sell the model.

He said that he’s been trying to get the word out about the stolen cello by posting flyers in his apartment complex. Haskins is also looking at online marketplaces to see if someone tries to sell it there.

“I’ve used every idea that I have at the moment,” he said. “I have a good idea of what I’m looking for, which, at least, is an advantage. So if they actually do take a picture of the instrument, I’m going to know immediately if it’s mine.”

Haskins has been practicing to be a musician since he was 10 years old. At the time, he was taking piano lessons. But then he heard the Philadelphia Orchestra perform Trepak — also known as the Russian Dance — from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

“There’s a cello section solo in that dance,” Haskins said. “Being 10, it just blows you away when you hear it played by the Philadelphia Orchestra. That was it. I was playing air cello in my room.”

Haskins reached out to the Richmond Police Department to file a report that his things had been stolen. (Photo: Olivia Jaquith)

At 17, Haskins started playing musical gigs, later moving to Florida to study music in school.

“I just love being creative and writing and arranging music,” he said. “When you are with a group of musicians and you play together, you don’t have to verbalize very much, and you know that you’re there and you’re accomplishing something together, and it’s a great feeling.”

Haskins is hoping to get that ‘great feeling’ back with a safe return home for his cello, bows and case. He said that he reached out to the Richmond Police Department (RPD) to file a report, but is concerned that someone might try to sell the instrument out of state.

“I’m very much going to fight this all the way,” Haskins said. “I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to stop looking for this.”

Anyone with information on this theft should contact RPD at 804-646-5100.