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This is a bit off-topic but in China the number four is avoided if at all possible. In buildings, the fourth floor becomes the fifth. Students would skip the #4 question on a test so I'd jump from the #3 question to #5. The reason is that the number four in Chinese is a close homophone for death. On the other hand, the number eight (fa) is considered lucky because it rhymes with ba which means to make a fortune. When people pick a number for their mobile phones, they'll tolerate incredibly long phone numbers in order to get as many eights as possible. Sometimes only one number bearing the number eight is available at the end of a fifteen digit phone number.

The guy who delivered my propane tank every month had four eights in his mobile phone number and had only seven numbers total! He probably paid a lot of money for that phone number. Many expats that I knew in China seemed to have a disproportionate number of fours in their mobile phone numbers.

If one wants to stretch the theories about the missing number on the OP's saxophone, one could theorize that a Chinese person owned it at some point and filed off the first number which may have been a number four (unlikely to impossible but there it is. An extra theory never hurts. Sometimes it tickles).
 
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Such as…. The original serial number was deemed unlucky.

More?
Having been on SOTW for a while and learning many things about the saxophone that I never would have imagined, one possible reason arose for removing the brass in the serial number area. See, it could be that the owner of that sax, wanting to improve tone, performed a series of acoustic tests which revealed an imbalance in the sax regarding its nodal vibrations. Thus, to correct that issue, material was removed in the lower portion of the sax body which, as fate would have it, happened to be where the serial number was.
 

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California has a penal code section making it a crime to buy, sell, possess any item with an altered or obliterated serial number. All of the excuses don’t matter nor do they mitigate the crime. Many states have similar laws. Return the horn immediately and distance youself from it. DAVE
Too bad Florida doesn't have a law like that. Sam Ash took in my Mark VI tenor and a Muramatsu flute when a 'friend' took to them to one of their Orlando stores. She told them that I had been in the Navy band and that I had died. Was able to track them down, after they were sold. Florida law says that if you buy something that you did not know was stolen the person it was stolen from can not get it back. The people who have these horns have no problem playing them, that is the part that blows my mind.
 

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Return the horn immediately and distance youself from it. DAVE
But not before you make a darn good recording with it! Just kidding.
I once won an air purifier at Goodwill online. Had the unrelenting odor of cigar smoke so they returned it, no hassle.
My dad bought my first flute for me from a pawnshop at 15. It was a great pawnshop in a middle-class suburb many years ago. They always had a collection of amazing guitars and amps and some nice horns too. We use to visit them weekly and check out the instruments; a nice father-son bonding experience.
At any rate, the very next week when we were there, Detectives happened to be there too and approached us; told us the flute was stolen out of a girl's locker at a local High School and pawned by an older brother. We gave back the flute, the pawnshop gave us back our $$ and the girl got her flute back. I guess the pawnshop ate that one... unless they sued the kid.
That was when I first became aware there was an entire Police division that tracked down serial numbers. Had the flute been pawned somewhere else the girl might not have gotten it back; this was a reputable pawn shop that RECORDED serial numbers and reported them (vs selling out the back door). At any rate, even a misguided ATTEMPT to scratch off a serial is fishy. Did the OP say whether the neck was serial #'d too?
 

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Whoosh, there was a whole thread about this hor. Had no idea. So the datum that it might be 150526 and that the 1 was dropped might be a good pointer. any idea on how I can check if this is indeed a stolen horn? Where and how can I check this? Please let me know if anyone knows how to research this.
 

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Florida law says that if you buy something that you did not know was stolen the person it was stolen from can not get it back.
I find this really hard to believe. It's completely unreasonable. If caught, why wouldn't a thief just claim they had bought the item with cash but didn't know it had been stolen. Who keeps the item? A law like this would practically legalize theft as long as you lie, and there wouldn't be a legal process to make the victim whole.
 

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Too bad Florida doesn't have a law like that. Sam Ash took in my Mark VI tenor and a Muramatsu flute when a 'friend' took to them to one of their Orlando stores. She told them that I had been in the Navy band and that I had died. Was able to track them down, after they were sold. Florida law says that if you buy something that you did not know was stolen the person it was stolen from can not get it back. The people who have these horns have no problem playing them, that is the part that blows my mind.
I had a good time in Florida when I visited, but from what I've seen lately, maybe the U.S. should saw it off and let it float away to become its own island. :)
 

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But not before you make a darn good recording with it! Just kidding.
I once won an air purifier at Goodwill online. Had the unrelenting odor of cigar smoke so they returned it, no hassle.
My dad bought my first flute for me from a pawnshop at 15. It was a great pawnshop in a middle-class suburb many years ago. They always had a collection of amazing guitars and amps and some nice horns too. We use to visit them weekly and check out the instruments; a nice father-son bonding experience.
At any rate, the very next week when we were there, Detectives happened to be there too and approached us; told us the flute was stolen out of a girl's locker at a local High School and pawned by an older brother. We gave back the flute, the pawnshop gave us back our $$ and the girl got her flute back. I guess the pawnshop ate that one... unless they sued the kid.
That was when I first became aware there was an entire Police division that tracked down serial numbers. Had the flute been pawned somewhere else the girl might not have gotten it back; this was a reputable pawn shop that RECORDED serial numbers and reported them (vs selling out the back door). At any rate, even a misguided ATTEMPT to scratch off a serial is fishy. Did the OP say whether the neck was serial #'d too?
I bought a Mark VI alto from a pawn shop back in 1985 for $600 in Atlanta. I remember before I bought it calling the local police and asking whether I should be concerned that it was stolen. They assured me that every thing with a serial number was screens.

The internet has disrupted a lot of these traditional controls. While there are websites tracking stolen things, I don’t but how compete they are. If law enforcement does not use these tools there is not an authoritative source to identified stolen stuff.

Stolen today means potentially for sale on the internet tomorrow. buying through reputable dealers provides a buyer with some recourse. The premium you pay a reputable dealer is insurance about the condition and legitimacy of the horn
 

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I recently inquired with Detroit Police through their FOIA/records unit, requesting my police report from 1982 regarding my 56xxx Mk VI that was stolen. I gave them the location, the time frame… I know that I put the complete serial no. in the report…
Unfortunately, this is Detroit, and after a month or two I received a reply that they have no records… too far back… paper records… More unfortunately, I did not retain the serial number… I only know that it was 56xxx and it was not a relacquer.
Heck, this is the city that parked all rape evidence kits - 100s or perhaps 1000s - in a closet somewhere, over a period of several years… no investigations, nothing. When they were discovered years later, they were handled by the State Police crime lab… but I don’t believe there were ever any consequences for anyone in DPD. It was: “Oops. Sorry.”
 

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Too bad Florida doesn't have a law like that. Sam Ash took in my Mark VI tenor and a Muramatsu flute when a 'friend' took to them to one of their Orlando stores. She told them that I had been in the Navy band and that I had died. Was able to track them down, after they were sold. Florida law says that if you buy something that you did not know was stolen the person it was stolen from can not get it back. The people who have these horns have no problem playing them, that is the part that blows my mind.
I'm originally from Florida and will probably move back when I retire.

Did the police pursue a case on the person who stole your instruments and sold them to the store?
 

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Having been on SOTW for a while and learning many things about the saxophone that I never would have imagined, one possible reason arose for removing the brass in the serial number area. See, it could be that the owner of that sax, wanting to improve tone, performed a series of acoustic tests which revealed an imbalance in the sax regarding its nodal vibrations. Thus, to correct that issue, material was removed in the lower portion of the sax body which, as fate would have it, happened to be where the serial number was.
Theoretically plausible, but practically improbable. Everybody knows, a sax plays much better when one adds mass to it.
 

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Unfortunately, this is Detroit, and after a month or two I received a reply that they have no records… too far back… paper records… More unfortunately, I did not retain the serial number… I only know that it was 56xxx and it was not a relacquer.
Heck, this is the city that parked all rape evidence kits - 100s or perhaps 1000s - in a closet somewhere, over a period of several years… no investigations, nothing. When they were discovered years later, they were handled by the State Police crime lab… but I don’t believe there were ever any consequences for anyone in DPD. It was: “Oops. Sorry.”
Good Lord, that's awful!
When I lived in Atlanta, I had a pistol stolen out of my car along with a backpack and some other things. I asked around my neighborhood and someone correctly ID'd the guy and showed me the house he was living in. I took a taxi there (so he wouldn't see my car) and sure enough, out he comes with my backpack on him! Totally ID'd him.

I reported it to the Police. NOTHING. Nada. They wouldn't follow up, despite my continued pressure. Instead, every year after that I got this maddening call from the Police Dept - dig this - ASKING ME IF I HAD RECOVERED MY WEAPON. It got to the point where I would scream at them, "NO - that's YOUR damn job and you refused to do it when you had the chance!"

I tell ya, the corruption in major US cities is awful. But back to the topic at hand...
 

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Good Lord, that's awful!
When I lived in Atlanta, I had a pistol stolen out of my car along with a backpack and some other things. I asked around my neighborhood and someone correctly ID'd the guy and showed me the house he was living in. I took a taxi there (so he wouldn't see my car) and sure enough, out he comes with my backpack on him! Totally ID'd him.

I reported it to the Police. NOTHING. Nada. They wouldn't follow up, despite my continued pressure. Instead, every year after that I got this maddening call from the Police Dept - dig this - ASKING ME IF I HAD RECOVERED MY WEAPON. It got to the point where I would scream at them, "NO - that's YOUR damn job and you refused to do it when you had the chance!"

I tell ya, the corruption in major US cities is awful. But back to the topic at hand...
Did you file a crime report when the crime happened? Your story wasn't clear on that point. And yes, it could matter.

Your statement about corruption in major cities may be too much. There could be other reasons why no action was taken. Early in my career with LAPD, I was a detective-sergeant handling residential burglaries and thefts in a small part of Van Nuys Division. Those were the days before automated files. So, as each report came in, I logged it into my monthly folder of cases. The joke about what I was doing about crime was, "But lieutenant, I'm logging them in as fast as I can." Just maintaining my own records was time-consuming. Then there were court appearances, training assignments, immediate interviewing of arrestees, time at the prosecutors' office waiting to file charges, not enough detective vehicles available for field work, etc., etc.

I handled at least 100 cases per month - impossible to contact each victim (which we were required to do) and to chase every lead and most res-burgs had no leads - it seems they were committed by ghosts. Cases that seemingly were solvable by the general public weren't that easy and often were thwarted by victims and witnesses refusing to co-operate, or moving and leaving no forwarding info. Most solvable cases often were passed on by if my first attempt to contact someone failed. There just wasn't enough time to do it all.

Many times I'd find some time to do some follow-up and then patrol officers would bring in multiple suspects and I'd have to drop everything to process the in-custodies - interview, write follow-up reports, sit in the prosecutors' office waiting to file the charges, etc. And this was in the late 1960's. Things have not improved in most cities. DAVE
 

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Good Lord, that's awful!
When I lived in Atlanta, I had a pistol stolen out of my car along with a backpack and some other things. I asked around my neighborhood and someone correctly ID'd the guy and showed me the house he was living in. I took a taxi there (so he wouldn't see my car) and sure enough, out he comes with my backpack on him! Totally ID'd him.

I reported it to the Police. NOTHING. Nada. They wouldn't follow up, despite my continued pressure. Instead, every year after that I got this maddening call from the Police Dept - dig this - ASKING ME IF I HAD RECOVERED MY WEAPON. It got to the point where I would scream at them, "NO - that's YOUR damn job and you refused to do it when you had the chance!"

I tell ya, the corruption in major US cities is awful. But back to the topic at hand...
Yeah, screaming at someone always makes things better. Good call.

FWIW, my place in the Bay Area (Hayward, CA) was broken into in the early ‘80s. The alleged thieves took my Teac 3440, Beretta, and Mk VI sop, among other things. Best Music called the police when my sop showed up in their shop, and I am grateful for it.
 

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… Best Music called the police when my sop showed up in their shop, and I am grateful for it.
I’m curious how this all transpired. I’m assuming the thief took it there to sell on consignment and only later on, after Best had done the paperwork and submitted the sn to the police, was the theft discovered. I’m imagining Best told the guy “your sax sold, come and get your check” and the police were waiting when he showed up. But perhaps that’s too idealistic and it didn’t happen that way at all. Nice to get your sax back, though.
 
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