5 Ways to Prevent Musical Instrument Theft

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Music Instrument Theft[These handy tips are brought to you by GearTrack, an online musical instrument registry that aims to deter theft and aid in recovery.]

If you’ve never been the victim of instrument theft, chances are you know someone who has. You’ve probably even seen at least one Facebook post about someone’s stolen guitar. In honor of National Instrument Theft Prevention Day (yeah, we made that up), we’re sharing 5 ways to prevent theft and set yourself up for recovery  – in case it happens to you!

1. Never leave a man behind (in the car)

No matter that extreme temperatures could play havoc on your setup. More importantly, car/van/trailer break-ins are one of the most frequent theft stories we hear. Don’t believe me?

2. Duck & Cover

Your garage may be a great place to get loud, but anyone with the motivation and inclination could probably guess that your gear is vulnerable. Put things away after practicing, cover windows when possible and Lock. It. Up.

3. Insure? Just Do It Already!

If you make money with your rig, chances are it won’t be covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Check the fine print and look into instrument insurance. It’s actually not too expensive, and can get you back on the road quick if disaster strikes.

4. Take Stock

Take a moment and record all serial numbers. Take photos of identifying marks. These important details can mean getting your instrument back should theft occur. Store these details in a safe place, away from gear. We know a good place

5. Make Your Mark

Try placing a sneaky hidden ID in your instrument (especially if it doesn’t have a serial number) in a place thieves wouldn’t think to look. Do the same with your case.


Have you had instruments stolen? What did you do to replace/recover them? Let us know your story in the comments section below.

GearTrack is an online musical instrument registry that aims to deter theft and aid in recovery. Instrument lovers can organize their collection safely in the cloud. Victims of theft get stolen alerts to the WatchDog network, tools for search and recover, and more. Buyers and sellers can easily search serial numbers before trading second hand gear. Free & easy peace of mind – What are you waiting for? Learn more here. 

For tips on how to book a successful DIY tour, download our free guide:

 Free Guide: Book Your Own Successful Tour

[Picture of thief from Shutterstock.]

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  • Benton Mckibben

    I just ordered some “Tiles” a few weeks ago that I’m going to strategically install in my amp heads/speakers and in the switch boxes of my guitars. I know this sounds like a sales pitch but I have nothing to do with the company I just thought it was a great idea as soon as I heard about the tiles coming out. you can check out the kickstarter program here http://www.thetileapp.com/

    • GearTrack

      Benton, We are really curious to hear about your experience with Tile. We’re looking into them as well. Check in with us at info@gear-track.com if you like. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Lisa Peek

    My husband had his $1500 Takamine Guitar stolen out of my car, the one time we happened to forget it was in there and I took my car to work and my car got broken into while at work (it was under a cover in the back so they didn’t break in for that, you couldn’t see it, they just got lucky.) Once he got his replacement, he burned his signature into it so now it’s easily identifiable as his.

  • mark anderson

    Good tips. Electric guitars etc. have several places for hidden I.D.s, including the underside of cover plates and inside pickup cavities. Handy if there is no serial # or if it gets removed/altered. For cases you can carefully peel back some of the lining and put an I.D. there before gluing it back down. We should all take pics with the date and serial #’s, etc. and email them to ourselves then store these in a separate folder. That way if they steal your computer as well you will still have a record. Got that tip from an insurance guy who said most records are destroyed in fires and floods. I should get on that! Cheers, Mark

  • Jim in Texas

    A lot of thefts at festivals happen when people just leave instruments unattended. With everybody walking around with black instrument cases, it’s pretty hard to spot the stolen one. I have always stenciled my last name in huge letters on my cases just to make them stand out if someone should pick one up. I don’t know if its effective, but I’ve never lost an instrument, and it can’t hurt. (Also keeps you from picking up the wrong case, which I have done before!). I also believe in carrying sales receipts. I was once approached by a guy at a festival who was pretty much implying that my instrument was stolen from him. I was able to show him my original receipt from the manufacturer, at which point he walked away.

  • Wow. Specific. But hopefully useful to someone who'll play there.


  • DDB9000

    This may sound a bit specific, but DON’T park at the Fox Theatre in Detroit! Really!
    Recently I just heard about another touring band who had their stuff stolen from their van while playing there (I’ve heard of 5 now). The Fox management doesn’t seem to care, so if you end up playing there, try to find a better place or post armed guards.

  • BrentonFiXT

    Nice to see a shout-out to GearTrack!

  • Also… put a bit of colored tape on your cords. This makes the cords easily identifiable as yours. When it is time to tear down, you are less likely to leave a cord behind and other people will not be able to claim the cord as theirs.

  • Wil Van Winkle

    NEVER get a hotel closer than 30 minutes away from the gig you are playing. Many thieves, especially in Austin, are successful because they know what is in your car & followed you. After about 30 minutes of driving most of these guys will just assume you're driving straight through to the next stop & give up.
    I got broken into once in San Francisco while at the gig…..$375 top replace the window but all the gear was inside with me, not all thieves are smart apparently!