Edward “Ned” Haskins spoke with 8News on April 18, after the tool most important to his line of work was reportedly stolen as he carried groceries from his car into his apartment.
“It’s my livelihood,” he said at the time. “I worked for a long time to be able to buy this instrument.”
In addition to spreading the word online about the theft, Haskins began calling local pawn shops to warn them about the stolen cello, in the event that someone might try to make money off of the instrument. One of those pawn shops was Superior Outlet and Pawn Shop on Jefferson Davis Highway, which has been in business for 30 years.
“He told me that his cello was stolen, he described it to me and told me what kind of case it’s in, asked us to keep an eye out for it,” owner Alex Shaban said. “I took down his name and number. I told him I’d give him a call if it came to our shop.”
The cello was never pawned at that location. However, days later, it was sold at the newer Superior Outlet and Pawn Shop location on Nine Mile Road.
Mo Shaban was working at the store in Henrico County when someone brought the cello, two bows and carrying case in. He said that he was hesitant to purchase the instrument because it lacked a serial number, but figured he would be able to turn a profit.
The Shabans said that they run everything they buy through a police system, waiting 15 days before selling pawned merchandise. During that time, they confirm with authorities that none of the items in their possession have been stolen.
“I had a customer telling me about the cello, that it was stolen,” Mo said. “I had one sitting in the back and he […] saw the cello and he’s like, ‘Oh, man, that thing’s on the news.’ So I looked up the news article and called my boss.”
Alex and Mo said they called Haskins to confirm that the cello belonged to him, and then got in touch with authorities.
The Shabans said that the person who pawned the cello claimed they bought it from a homeless man.
“They had no clue it was stolen, they say,” Mo said.
When Haskins arrived at the pawnshop, he said that the person who sold his cello was there, being interviewed by police.
“I high-tailed it there,” Haskins said. “The detectives were talking to him outside later. I didn’t hear what they were talking about because I was inside examining the cello.”
Aside from minor cosmetic damage, Haskins said the cello, both bows and the carrying case are in surprisingly good shape. He is waiting to play the instrument until it can be examined by a professional to ascertain that it’s still sound structurally.
“I’m amazed. It’s virtually unscathed. I’m really lucky about that,” Haskins said. “It was just very surreal, and I didn’t expect it to come back so soon.”
Haskins said that he feels fortunate to live in a community where so many people were willing to share his story when he asked for help.
“That’s the reason that I have it back is because a number of people that were involved and the number of people that chose to signal boost it,” he said. “Just grateful to be a part of a community that people are so willing to get behind a person when something like this happens, and, honestly, it’s a pretty simple story — man loses cello, man gets cello back.”
As for the Shabans, they said that unless someone is arrested and ordered to pay restitution, they will lose the few hundred dollars they spent purchasing the cello.
“It’s unfortunate because we’re going to lose our money,” Alex said. “But, at the same time, I’m glad he got it back. We’re always on the side of the victim.”