Three men have been arrested after several shops in Gateshead city centre were burgled in midnight raids.
Thieves broke into Mendelson's Music Shop and made off with the lute. They also broke into the till, and took all the notes.
Nearby, a posh women's clothes shop was ransacked and a mink stole was stolen.
After breaking into a jeweller's shop, the thieves broke in half a candlestick with a silver base and pinched its bottom bit.
"They were clearly experienced burglars," said the police, "looking for windows of opportunity."
One of the three men, Nick Allott, had several previous convictions for shoplifting. "Two years ago, he was arrested for breaking into a newsagent's shop and stealing loads of cigarettes," said the prosecution. "He also stole a calendar. He got 12 months."
A woman was also arrested after she was found trying to sell several of the items. Isla Veetall, 37, was charged with receiving stole and goods.
Mr Allott's defence counsel claimed that his delinquent problems started many years ago when, as a teenager he kept getting mugged. "Some bugger was always pinching my coffee," he said.
Allott was unperturbed about another prison spell. "I'm quite good at words," he said. "I'll write a lot. And I like punctuation - commas and stuff. But especially the full stop. That should mark the end of my sentence."
In court, the judge asked for silence, and there was a pregnant pause before they were all jailed for 9 months.
P.S. Stop Press: The crime reporter on the Gateshead Evening News has just been charged with stealing 10 puns. Joseph Leff claimed that all these puns complied with the Trades Descriptions Act, but no pun in ten did.