A Booty'ful Day In Vienna

It seems that it's a case of 'all's well that ends well' in Vienna this week. A Stradivarius violin worth four million dollars that was nabbed a fortnight ago has been returned to its rightful owner, Mr. Christian Altenburger, an acclaimed Viennese musician. The violin, which was blowtorched from Mr. Altenburger's safe whilst he was attending a concert in Germany is one of only 600 known Stradivarius splendours in existence. A Georgian gang was busted for the bare-faced cheek of the blowtorch raid, and six men are now being held in custody.

If that wasn't enough excitement for one week, fortune has smiled on Vienna once more regarding another high profile heist. On Sunday, news broke that a brooch that belonged to Empress 'Sisi' had turned up in Canada after nine years of uncertainty. The jewel had been stolen in broad daylight from Schonbrunn Palace in 1998, and no convincing leads had emerged since then. But all changed this week - the theft is at the centre of a major organised crime bust relating to the so-called 'Blanchard gang'. Mr Gerald Daniel Blanchard is now facing 41 charges.

Returning to the Stradivarius theft, it's emerged that a key detail led Austrian police to home in on Georgian suspects. Besides swanning off with two violins, the gang allegedly helped themselves to liberal quantities of alcohol and clothes - bonuses that are rarely included in contract thefts. But police say that Georgian gangs have often added booze to their booty in recent thefts - a trick that they'll have drop in future projects.


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