STOLEN - Teacher's hand-crafted viola

By, Amie Hickland

A Masterton music teacher is hoping to tug at the heart strings of thieves who stole her precious, hand-crafted viola from a school storeroom earlier this week.

Ruth Eckford's viola was stolen from Masterton Intermediate School sometime between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

Along with the viola, a PA system, three guitars with broken strings, and and two valuable saxophones were also stolen.

Not taking into account the unique value of Mrs Eckford's viola, the the instruments are thought to collectively be worth more than $5000 given each of the stolen saxophones is worth $2000.

Masterton police said a lack of forced entry could mean that an opportunist thief wandered in and helped themselves to the instruments in the room.

Mrs Eckford, an itinerant music teacher, has owned the hand-crafted viola since 1995.

It was made by Malcolm Collins, an acknowledged master of the art of instrument making.

He hand-crafted it for Mrs Eckford and it is designed for people with small hands.

"It's a work of art," she said.

Mrs Eckford had taken the viola to school on Friday, and "didn't think about taking it home".

Although she would not put a price on it, she bought it for thousands and thought it would be worth more now.

Mrs Eckford, who trained as a pianist, decided to learn viola as an adult.

"It's beautiful, even if you don't make a nice sound," she said.

"A stringed instrument is somehow slightly more emotional."

Mrs Eckford said she won't replace the viola.

"If I get it back I'll be over the moon.

"I would like it back please."

The missing saxophones will also impact on the students, as six people have signed up for lessons.

"I'm going to have to say to someone on Monday 'I'm sorry'," she said.

Mrs Eckford teaches at Masterton Intermediate School, Wairarapa College, Rathkeale College, and St Matthew's Collegiate School.

She also conducts Wairarapa Community Orchestra and Wairarapa Youth Concert Band.

Police are continuing with their inquiries, and anybody with information should contact them.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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