NCBS Stolen & Missing Instrument Information Page

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RECOVERED --- Re: (Rare) 1931 Vega Vox III Banjo --- RECOVERED

Banjo's return is good news, odd news
By David Richie - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 12:45 am PDT Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Story appeared in METRO section, Page B4

A prized banjo stolen in Folsom on June 30 has been returned for a $10,000
reward under mysterious circumstances the instrument's owner and police
find troubling.

The safe return of the 1931 Vega Vox III was negotiated Monday morning by
Sacramento attorney Daniel A. Nicholson and Robert Dick, a private
investigator and bounty hunter who works with Nicholson. Nicholson refused
to say where they got the banjo or on whose behalf they were taking the
reward money.

The banjo has a colorful history. Its owner, Jim Pollock, 71, has played
the Vega for six U.S. presidents and at a gala hosted by members of the
U.S. Supreme Court.

The break in the case came last Thursday after Pollock raised the reward
he was offering from $5,000 to $10,000.

Also on Thursday, Folsom police investigators released surveillance photos
showing a man and woman who brought the banjo into a Sacramento pawn shop.

"That was huge," said Folsom Police Detective Jon Lasater. Both people
were identified soon after their photos showed up in The Bee and on local
TV news programs.

The man in the surveillance photos was identified by police as parolee
Jeremy Cunningham of Sacramento. He came forward after his photo appeared
and has been cleared of involvement in the banjo's theft, Lasater said.

Folsom police still want to talk to the woman who showed up in the pawn
shop photos. Lasater said investigators have identified her but he
declined to release her name.

Lasater stressed that even though the banjo has been found, his
investigation continues. He questioned the role played by Nicholson and

"Why not call the police after they found the banjo? They still would have
been eligible for the reward," Lasater said.

In a brief telephone interview, Nicholson said he had been retained a few
days ago to "facilitate the return of the banjo."

"The nature and the identity of my clients is confidential," Nicholson said.

Pollock confirmed Monday that he arranged to pay the full $10,000 to
Nicholson and Dick after the private investigator contacted him over the

"I was concerned that any other course I could take might cause the banjo
to go away," Pollock said.

Local negotiations were handled by family friend Bill Windle, a
Folsom-based private investigator.

Windle wanted to make sure the banjo being offered was the real Vega. He
brought in a local repair specialist who has worked on Pollock's banjo.

Once the identification was verified, Windle went ahead with the
transaction and took possession of the Vega late Monday morning.

Pollock, who lives in Portola Valley, said he's thrilled at the banjo's
return and plans to come to Sacramento later this week to take it home.

But he remains troubled that he ended up negotiating with an attorney for
the return of his stolen property. He said those negotiations did not
include any agreement on his part not to press charges should police
ultimately make an arrest.

"I do not want to stop them from doing their business," he said.