Liz Hoey's friend texted her this photo of a "street cello" -- in actuality an upright bass -- found in Hampden. Hoey and her husband reunited the instrument with its owner last week -- and received a bottle of homemade hot sauce in return.

Only in Hampden does a bit of Baltimore street crime have a happy ending that includes the return of a large musical instrument and a bottle of homemade hot sauce.

When a text came through from a friend late last Wednesday, Liz Hoey’s interest was piqued.

“Street cello in Hampden. I don’t have my car but can babysit for a while if y’all want it? Half block from Roland and 36th,” read the message from her friend.

Hoey, who collects musical instruments with her husband and lives nearby in Medfield, immediately answered the text and headed over.

“I was really excited about it because I thought it would be just a fun thing,” Hoey said. “Even if we didn’t end up grabbing it. Just be a fun thing to go see your friend and figure out why this was on the ground abandoned. That’s just so weird. So I was excited.”

Yet when she arrived she didn’t find an orphaned “street cello” but an upright bass that had obviously been well cared for. 

“When I accepted the invite to come and get it, I was like, ‘That’s just really weird.’ But then when I got there, I was like, ‘That’s weird in a bad way.’ It’s an expensive instrument. There’s no good reason for somebody to just leave one on the street like that.”

She and her friend plucked the strings. It was almost in tune.

Hoey quickly posted a note to Facebook’s Hampden Neighbors group, which had already had a panicked post about – you guessed it – a missing upright bass.

“Someone just stole my upright bass from my car on Roland Avenue 3500 block. If anyone has cameras there and can help me figure this out that would be helpful, Christian.”

While the commenters reveled in the serendipity of it all, Hoey worked to reunite Christian with his bass.

It’s not the first time the internet has intervened to reunite lost things with their owners in Baltimore. Recently, Frazier’s on the Avenue got a stolen bar stool back after an all-points bulletin on their Facebook page. Meanwhile, other neighbor pages like Canton’s are full of good Samaritans reuniting stolen packages that were later discarded with their rightful owners.

A day after Hoey’s post, her husband met up with Christian and the couple received a hot bottle of Christian’s homemade hot sauce as a well-deserved reward.

According to Christian, someone had broken into his car Wednesday evening, ransacked it and helpfully spit on the steering wheel. 

Apparently, the thief had second thoughts about the bulky bass and ditched it about a block from Christian’s car.

“It was kind of funny that my sister who’s also a musician knew him,” Hoey said. “I guess we weren’t surprised, but it was a very Baltimore moment. They had met a couple of times and he had offered to play bass for her gigs.”

“Yes, it was Smalltimore moment.”

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Tim Swift

Tim Swift is a local freelance writer and the former features editor for the Baltimore Sun.

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