Stolen Goods – How to Protect Your Gear!

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Stolen Goods – How to Protect Your Gear!

If your Facebook friends list includes musicians, odds are good that you regularly see posts seeking help locating stolen gear.

Here are some simple tips to help minimize your chances of needing to write your own sad tale of loss on social media:

1.  Never leave your gear in your car overnight.  Most instrument thefts happen when someone comes home too tired to unload the car after a show.  A few moments of hard work at the end of the night can save you years of regret should you lose something rare or valuable from your back seat or trunk. 

2.  When you are out of town, bring everything that is valuable and easy to carry into your hotel room. For drummers, that means cymbal bags and snare drums.  For guitarist, guitars and pedal boards should come into the room whenever possible.

3.  When you are loading and unloading your gear, try to have someone posted at your vehicle, or lock it in between trips - no exceptions.  Even the quickest trip into the club is an eternity of opportunity for someone to grab and run away with your stuff!

4.  Mark your bags and cases.  A stencilled name or band logo will make it harder for someone to “accidentally” walk away with your guitar or snare drum at a multi-band show.  Much like your luggage at the airport, you want to be able to recognize your cases easily from a distance.

5.  Keep a list of serial numbers.  Maintain a hard copy somewhere safe in your home and have an electronic copy available (online or on a device) when you are away.  Taking pictures of your gear is also a great idea.

6.  Don't make a big deal out of the extremely rare and expensive gear you own. Telling your friends about the hand-wound pickups in your Fender Custom Shop 1957 Journeyman Relic is fine, but bragging about it to every guitarist and soundperson you play with is probably a bad idea.

7.  Be cognisant of where you park.  Parking in a visible and well-lit location is always preferable to the dark alley behind the club.  When staying somewhere overnight, try to find a way to park your trailer or van that makes unloading it extremely difficult.  (If you back your U-Haul trailer against the brick wall of your motel, it will make it tough for thieves to get your PA speakers out of it.)

8.  If your band owns a trailer, invest in the best anti-theft devices you can afford.  Use a high-quality tongue lock and buy a GPS tracking device.  You may not get all of your gear back, but you may at least recover the trailer if it is stolen!

9.  Keep your band's truck or trailer free of company logos.  Advertising that you have expensive, brand-name gear in a vehicle is an invitation for thieves.

And if you DO find yourself the victim of theft, report it immediately.  Call the police and give them as much detail as you can remember.  Visit your local Long & McQuade and give them the serial numbers of the items you lost.  If the thieves try to sell or service the stolen goods at any Long & McQuade location in Canada, they will be caught!  You should also visit as many pawn shops in your area as you can.  Bring print outs with photos and serial numbers.  Make it as easy as possible for store staff to identify your gear, should someone try to sell it.

And - of course - let your friends on social media know!


Tony Bouma (“Tony B.”) is a drummer, martial artist and painter living in Southwestern Ontario. In his 25-plus years behind the kit, he has backed numerous rock, blues and country acts on local and regional levels.

Tony works at Long & McQuade in Cambridge.


Keywords: stolen geargearguitarspedalboardscymbal casetheftlong & mcquade

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