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In a bizarre case of identity and material theft that sounds like the plot of a Hitchcock film (or a Law and Order episode, as The Los Angeles Times put it), a Joshua Bell lookalike infiltrated the violinist's 5-star hotel room in Zaragoza, Spain while the soloist was performing down the road on tour with the London Philharmonic.
A man posing as Bell managed to convince hotel staff he had lost his key. Once inside, he called the front desk to request assistance opening the room's locked safe. Reports confirm that the thief answered the door casually, wearing only a towel, as if he had just gotten out of the shower.
The hotel's security opened the safe without checking the man's ID, allowing him to leave the premises with Bell's US$38,000 Breguet watch, laptop, cash and other personal belongings.
"I was amazed at how easy it was for this to occur," Bell said in a statement.
His 1713 Stradivarius, the $4 million Gibson ex-Huberman, was not stolen because Bell was playing the Brahms Violin Concerto in concert at the Auditorio de Zaragoza while the heist was underway.