Prized $4,400 Saxophone Taken in Northwest DC Music Store Burglary

Owner believes a sax player is responsible for break-in and three previous attempts

Someone broke into a popular Northwest D.C. music store and stole an expensive saxophone, and the owner thinks the thief knows exactly how precious the instrument is.

Middle C Music in Tenleytown nurtures budding musicians with lessons and stocks everything the professional musician needs, including the Gerald Albright Signature Series alto saxophone by Cannonball.

Surveillance video shows a man break into Middle C Music after 12:30 a.m. Thursday and leave with the instrument.

“Not toward one of the larger tenor saxes, not for any of the guitars, no, no,” owner Myrna Sislen said. “This is a sax player.”

Herself an internationally recognized musician, Sislen immediately knew something about the man who broke into her store.

“It’s a very special instrument,” she said. “It is maybe the most famous of the Cannonball Series alto saxophones. The Gerald Albright is what everyone wants.”

Despite the alarm going off, the man calmly walked to the saxophone on the wall, stood on a chair to reach it, then exited through the hole in the door he’d made with a long, heavy pipe.


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It was the first break-in at the store Sislen has owned since 2002, but she has a hunch three failed attempts since August were the work of the same man — a man obsessed with the workmanship of a very special saxophone which commands a significant price: $4,400.

“He somehow knew, maybe because he had done this three times previously, how much time he had to do what he wanted to do,” Sislen said.

Sislen’s worries are those of any small business owner: Will her insurance pay for a fourth $600 door repair?

She can’t even think about handling the financial loss of the saxophone and just hopes somehow it will be recovered.

“It’s a very distinctive horn, so that if anybody sees that, call the police, tell somebody, because there are not that many players in town who have that horn,” she said. “We’re thinking there’s nobody who has it — except this one guy.”

The burglar also took one other thing: a modestly priced flute.

“Because sax players sometimes double with flute,” Sislen said. “It’s not at all unusual for them to play both instruments.”

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