The Violin Thief Who Robbed a Bank


**Violin Swindler Turns to Bank Robbery Amidst Federal Investigation**

Mark Meng, a 57-year-old Irvine resident, faces charges for a brazen scheme that entangled violin thefts and a desperate bank robbery. According to the United States Department of Justice, the intrepid art thief is expected in court this Thursday.

**The Artful Heist**

Prosecutors allege that Meng, disguised as a sophisticated collector, embarked on a cross-country violin hunt. He contacted violin shops and expressed keen interest in acquiring valuable instruments, requesting them for temporary trials before making a purchase decision.

However, these “trials” were merely a ruse. Meng vanished with the violins, leaving dealers none the wiser until they realized the instruments were long gone. Among the stolen treasures were an 1823 Lorenzo Ventapane violin worth an astonishing 5,000 and an 1870 Grand & Bernardel violin valued at ,000. Two other violins and a bow, totaling an additional 0,000, also fell victim to Meng’s artful trickery.

**The FBI’s Artful Response**

As Meng’s thievery spun out of control, it caught the eye of the FBI’s specialized Art Crime Team. Agents began an in-depth investigation, following the trail of stolen violins and unraveling the syndicate’s intricate web.

**A Violin Swindler’s Daring Gambit**

Upon realizing the FBI’s investigation was closing in, Meng’s audacious streak took a reckless turn. On April 2, 2024, he stormed into an Irvine bank, his face masked with a hat, sunglasses, bandana, and latex gloves.

With a cold, determined gaze, he handed the unsuspecting teller a chilling note: “,000. – Withdraw. Please. Stay Cool! No harm. Thx.” The terrified teller complied, and Meng snatched the cash, fleeing the scene in a white minivan.

**Caught by Fingerprint and Getaway Van**

The FBI’s Art Crime Team left no stone unturned. A latent print smudged on the robbery note matched Meng’s, leading them to his doorstep. Furthermore, the suspected getaway vehicle was found parked at his Irvine residence.

With irrefutable evidence in hand, authorities apprehended Meng days later. He now remains in custody, awaiting trial for the bank robbery and wire fraud charges.

**Consequences for the Artful Criminal**

If convicted, Meng could face a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. The Irvine Police Department and Glendale Police Department assisted the FBI in this meticulous investigation. The case serves as a stark reminder that even the most artful criminals cannot escape the law’s long arm.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team continues to work tirelessly to protect priceless cultural treasures and bring those responsible for art theft to justice.