Violinist's relief after police recover her £1.2m Stradivarius instrument - three YEARS after it was stolen from sandwich shop

'The loss of the instrument, and the acute responsibility I felt, was at the back of my mind at every moment of the day'

A world renowned violinist says she's 'on cloud nine' after police recovered her £1.2m Stradivarius instrument three years after it was stolen.

Min-Jin Kym's rare 1696 violin, along with two bows worth £67,000, were stolen from the Korean-born musician by opportunists while she was eating in a Pret a Manger cafe at London's Euston station in 2010.

But three years on, British Transport Police tracked down the 300-year-old instrument in the Midlands - sending acclaimed violinist Kym from 'devastation to elation'.

Today, police said investigators leading the hunt for the antique have verified the find with experts and the violin is now being held at a secure London location.

Internationally-acclaimed Kym said: 'It's been a very difficult journey; I still can't quite believe what has happened.

'The loss of the instrument, and the acute responsibility I felt, was at the back of my mind at every moment of the day.

'I'd played the instrument since I was a teenager, so it'd been a huge part of my identity for many years.

[Related: Roadside memorial for teen crash victim stolen]

'The theft was a crushing blow and the detectives in the case had always, quite rightly, been very careful not to give me false hope.

'When they told me the good news, it didn't feel real.

'I've now gone from devastation to the other end of the scale - an incredible feeling of elation that hasn't left me. I'm still feeling the butterflies in my stomach and am on cloud nine.'

British Transport Police said the violin was recovered from a property in the Midlands last week but added that they could not release further details.

[Driver clings to roof of stolen van in his pants]

The instrument, discovered intact with some very minor damage, was recovered in its case along with a missing £62,000 Peccatte bow and a bow made by the School of Bazin, valued at more than £5,000.

Following a public appeal for information and the release of CCTV images on the BBC's Crimewatch, John Maughan, 32, and two teenagers were later sentenced in connection with the theft in 2011 but the violin and bows had not been recovered - until now.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Taylor, who led the hunt, said: 'We're absolutely delighted to have recovered the Stradivarius violin after a long and very complex investigation.

'Though it took some time to successfully locate and recover the violin, we were confident it had remained in the UK.

'I always maintained that its rarity and distinctiveness would make any attempt to sell it extremely difficult, if not futile, because established arts and antiques dealers would easily recognise it as stolen property.

'I'd like to pass my sincere thanks to those who have supported our investigation over the last three years, including colleagues from other police forces and Lark (Group) Ltd, as well as the many members of the antique business who helped us.'

Louise Deacon, assistant manager of musical instruments at insurance group Lark, said: 'We are really happy to have such a valuable and treasured instrument back in the world of classical music where it belongs.

'We are looking forward to the outcome of our experts' assessment on the condition of the instrument so we can then liaise with Ms Kym with regards to purchasing back the Stradivari.'

A spokesman from Lloyd's insurer, Canopius, said: 'For Min-Jin Kym, her violin is priceless and insuring it against theft can never reflect the emotional cost of her loss. It's great news that the violin has been found.'

The violin's recovery comes as BTP launches Operation Magnum, a long-term initiative to reduce thefts, including pickpocketing, snatch thefts and luggage thefts, at railway stations across the country.

The operation aims to disrupt and deter thieves who target unsuspecting commuters and tourists, while also educating members of the public about how they can best look after their property on trains and at stations.