$22K flute left on Blue Line train recovered from pawn shop, returned to traveling musicianTom Schubaon February 4, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“I’m just thankful that I have the flute in my hand, that I can make music again and I can make people smile,” said Donald Rabin.

Following days of searching, the mystery of a missing $22,000 flute that was left on a CTA Blue Line train has been solved.

Donald Rabin, a flautist from Missouri who was visiting Chicago, frantically began searching for the flute after leaving it on a train seat when he hopped off last Friday in Logan Square. As Chicago police searched for the pricy woodwind, left to Rabin by his grandmother, the musicians’ pleas for help on Facebook grabbed the attention of local and national news outlets — and led to a break in the case.

Rabin said a man who scooped up the flute commented on one of his Facebook posts Tuesday with a photo of the instrument.

After that man texted him saying he found the flute and sent a receipt showing he had used the flute as collateral for a $550 loan at a pawn shop, Rabin grew leery.

“He was telling me that we needed to go to the pawn shop together. I would need to pay the $550 and I’ll retrieve the instrument that way,” Rabin told the Sun-Times. “But I did not want that to happen.”

Ultimately, Rabin alerted the detectives on the case, who went to the pawn shop and picked up the flute. During a celebratory news conference Thursday at the 14th District police station, Rabin offered his gratitude to those detectives and other cops as he was reunited with his cherished instrument.

“Not playing the flute every day is something that I’m not used to. I’m used to always practicing and I just have to say thank you to all these amazing, wonderful human beings who are here today that helped me along the way,” he said before closing out the event by playing “Over the Rainbow.”

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