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Security and Stolen Instruments

How to protect yourself

Most MU member’s livelihoods depend on their musical equipment, so it makes sense to consider the unthinkable and take precautions to dissuade thieves, such as securing adequate insurance cover and keeping instruments and gear in a safe location — at home, while rehearsing, in transit or at venues. Thieves are opportunistic and can spring up in the most unlikely places.

Jo Laverty, London Regional Organiser

MU free insurance cover

The MU provides free musical instrument insurance to members for those who complete the application form.

Marked for life

Many police forces recommend marking your equipment so that it can be traced in the event of a theft.

An ultra-violet (UV) pen is good for invisibly marking gear (there are also a number of other alternatives). You can get advice from a Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) by calling your nearest main police station.

If marking your valuable vintage equipment is not an option, the most important thing you can do is take detailed photographs and write a short description of each item. That way, if the worst should occur, the police will have concrete details to work with — this will also help with any insurance claim.

Take photos of the item from the front, back and sides against a plain white or grey background (not a carpet), with a ruler next to it to indicate size. Make sure that the photos show any unique features or markings. Write a description with the make, model, serial number (if applicable), age, origin, finish and measurements. Keep the photos and descriptions in a safe place, away from the item itself.

If the unthinkable happens…

Should your equipment be stolen, immediately inform your insurers and the police regarding the theft, and be proactive in trying to track it down. Prepare an information sheet with pictures and details of the stolen equipment, your contact details and the Crime Number that has been issued to you by the police. This information sheet can easily be handed out at local music shops and its elements posted on the internet, which will go a long way to help recover your stolen equipment.

If you know where the equipment was stolen, ask to see any CCTV footage that is likely to have been taken — for example, by the cameras mounted on the building next door to where the theft occurred — or inform the police that the incident may have been captured by a camera and give them the details of where it is located.

Stolen instrument registers

You can report your stolen instruments in our Stolen Instruments Bulletin.

Some organisations and music shops offer an online bulletin service where you can post information about stolen equipment. This can be one of the best ways to recover your gear.

When posting, give a full description, including details of the case and accessories, from where and when it was stolen and your contact email address or phone number.

Recovery checklist

  • Post notices on internet message boards that specialise in the type of equipment stolen.
  • Contact music shops in your area that purchase used equipment and hand out your info sheet.
  • Talk to staff at your area’s cash-for-gear shops, giving them the details of your missing gear.

Stolen instruments — useful contacts

Hencilla Canworth
To make a claim under the MU’s free insurance cover, simply call or email. Have your policy number and MU membership number to hand. For policy information, log on to Hencilla Canworth’s  website  or view our Instrument Insurance page.  

Association of Chief Police Officers (APCO)
Crime Prevention Initiatives. How to secure your home or studio.  securedbydesign.com

Metropolitan Police
A contact list of all the local police stations across London and general anti-theft advice.  met.police.uk/contacts

Violin Valuations
The online sister company of Bristol’s Cremona House Violin Shop has a bulletin board for listing stolen stringed instruments.  violinvaluations.com

The Mouth Piece
This Birmingham brass emporium’s internet forum has a Lost, Found & Stolen Goods Register where you can post a notice.  themouthpiece.com

Vintage And Rare Guitars
Call this well-respected retailer to register a stolen guitar, bass, amplifier or accessories. Alternatively, send an email via a form on the website.  vintageandrareguitars.com

Cash Converters
This nationwide chain ‘prides itself on the way it works alongside the community and police when purchasing second hand goods’. You can find the phone number of your local branches via the website’s Find A Store section.  cashconverters.co.uk

Cash Generator
Another chain with stores around the UK. The phone numbers of your local branches can be found using the website’s Store Locator facility.  cashgenerator.co.uk

MU Bulletin Board
Lost something? Inform MU members via the Stolen Instruments Bulletin.