190929_CRACK01

This screenshot from security video posted to the Voigt Music Center Facebook page shows a man with a flute in the back of his pants. Last Friday, the man wandered into the downtown Janesville music shop and attempted to make off with the $500 instrument.

JANESVILLE

A shoplifter tried an unusual trick to steal a flute from a downtown music store, but store staff members didn’t fall for it.

Londa Farrell said a man she didn’t recognize walked into Voigt Music Center, 34 S. Main St., on Friday, took a $500 Gemeinhardt flute off of a display rack and then stuck it down the back of his pants and into his underwear.

Then, Farrell said, the man tried to distract store staff with a slew of questions about the mouthpieces of various woodwind, brass and reed instruments.

Trouble was, Voigt’s staff could plainly see the shiny, silver flute sticking out of the man’s waistband as he walked around the store, pretending to browse.

Store security camera footage that Voigt Music has since shared on Facebook shows a middle-aged man with glasses and a ball cap walking through the music store with a flute jutting out of his pants. The video shows the flute resting against the bare small of the man’s back, with his dark leather jacket and shirt underneath not pulled down far enough to conceal the flute.

Farrell, whose son, Tony Farrell Jr., owns and operates Voigt Music, was working behind the store’s sales counter during the incident.

“It was so blatant,” Londa Farrell said. “His jacket was up. He didn’t even bother to pull it down. You could see the price tag (on the flute) and everything. I couldn’t help but shake my head.”

Londa said the man sauntered up to the counter and told her he was thinking of buying a trumpet for his grandchild, but he needed to know what kind of “mouthpiece” it would need. Then he asked what kind of “mouthpiece” a flute requires.

Londa said she walked out from behind the counter and pulled the flute up out of the man’s pants.

“I said, ‘Do you mean a flute like this one that’s in your pants?’ He told me, ‘Oh, yes. That’s where I always keep my flute,’” she said. “I said, ‘What? You always keep a flute with a Voigt Music price tag on it in your pants?’”

Londa said she set the flute aside on the counter, and the man tried to strike up a casual conversation about saxophone mouth reeds. She said Voigt employees knew the entire incident was being captured on the store’s security cameras.

Londa said one staff member noticed a brown, older-model truck or SUV parked on the street outside. She said a woman was in the vehicle with her head turned toward the store’s front windows “like it was all set up.”

Store staff used a cellphone to alert Tony Farrell Jr., who was working on musical instruments in the store’s downstairs repair shop. But before Tony could get upstairs and detain the would-be thief or get a photo of his vehicle, the man left the store, got into the brown truck and left.

Tony said he had not called authorities or filed a police report about the incident. He said he decided to post the security camera footage of the incident on Facebook because he wants people to know “they can’t just walk in here and steal something.”

The nearly-stolen flute has not made its way back to the sales racks at Voigt Music—at least not for now. More than most instruments, Tony said, flutes must be kept especially clean and spotless, and they are not designed to be stored in one’s trousers.

“I’ll say we’ll be doing a meticulous and very thorough job of taking that instrument apart and cleaning every inch of it,” he said.