Detective Chief Inspector Simon Taylor, who led the hunt for the violin, 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."
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Wayne John Lione leapt behind the wheel and drove at the parking officers who were sitting in their car nearby, in Sutton, south London.