Tips on How to Avoid Your Guitar Being Stolen and Prevent Guitar Theft

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One thing you will always have to be conscious of is that there is someone out there that wants to steal your guitar.

Recently, Tom Petty had five guitars stolen, just days before his new tour was to begin. They were stolen by a security guard at the soundstage where the band was practicing for their tour. One of them was found at a Hollywood, California pawn shop, thankfully leading to the return of the rest of the guitars.

However, most musicians are not so lucky when it comes to retrieving their stolen guitars. Thousands of guitars are stolen each year, most often by thieves that do not play guitar.

These crimes are such common occurrences, that even Gibson Guitar, itself, has literally had as many as a truckload stolen at a time. In 2007, Kevin Boyle, eCommerce Director at Gibson, reported that a Gibson Custom Shop truck and trailer were stolen from an area hotel parking lot. The trailer and truck were recovered by the police, but the large number of guitars inside the truck were heisted.

Even people allegedly trying out guitars in major chain stores have made off with them.

Rock stars, including Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, had a precious signature guitar stolen backstage during tear down after his Heaven and Hell tribute performance at the High Voltage Festival. Making it worse, his performance was a memorial show for his late bandmate, Ronnie James Dio, who died from cancer.

Thieves are virtually everywhere, and they will take what they can get. One retail outlet reported 130 guitars taken in just one break-on.

All one has to do is google the topic of stolen guitars, and sad stories loom throughout the internet. Perpetrators have absolutely no conscious. Therefore, they have no mercy for you.

Prevention is the best insurance. Protect your guitar by guarding it with your life. Always be aware of where you guitar is. Make sure at all times that it is truly safe.

There are some things you can do to prevent guitar theft. Here are some tips to keep your guitar from being stolen, or at least, having a better chance at retrieving it.

Never keep your sales receipt inside your guitar case. Always keep it separate from your guitar. Never throw out the sales receipt.

Keep photos of your guitar, taken from every angle. Also, make sure to take photos of the serial numbers of your guitars. Write your serial numbers down, as well, and keep them somewhere, away from your guitars.

Do not trust storage rental spaces, no matter what sales pitch they give you. They take little, if any, responsibility if your guitar is stolen. You will get precious little what your guitar and equipment are worth from them if it is stolen. They will debate the worth of guitar. Guaranteed, it will be an awful experience if you get ripped off. Keep your guitars out of storage.

Insurance is good to have. However, do not depend on an insurance policy as a replacement. Most policies do not pay full value.

If you are not a touring musician, the best you can do is get homeowners insurance, which has a limit on what the policies pay for replacing musical equipment.

What to do if your guitar is stolen is the basically the same as it is for any other major crime. If your guitar is stolen, file a police report immediately. Contact local pawn shops, and check sites like ebay and Craigslist to see if your instrument shows up.  Leave flyers that have photos at local vintage guitar shops and at other likely places where someone would try to sell a stolen guitar.

Never leave your guitar unattended in a car.

If on an airplane, keep your eye geared towards the above head rack or the closet it is in at all times. Get a seat up front, so that you can be near the closet, or else sit close to the overhead bin where your guitar is stashed. Thousands of guitars have been stolen from airplanes. Do all you can to keep your guitar with you as a carry on.

Do not make your guitars visible to potential intruders. If you have windows in the room where you keep your guitars, keep the shades drawn. Make sure the outside is well lit at night.

If you have a studio room in your home, install a good lock, and keep its premises securely locked when you are not in it.

Install an alarm system.

Never loan your guitar. You may trust your friend, or someone in your band, but can you trust their friends?

Two years ago, Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz stated, “Our Nashville Gibson Electrics have had RFID chips for over one year. At this point the chips are only used for inventory control at the Gibson facility. These chips can be used to distinguish a counterfeit guitar from a real one since a counterfeit guitar will not have a chip. The Custom division also has chips used specifically to authenticate certain instruments.” He added, “We expect to have all instruments “chipped” in the next year or so, and are working on an owners registry.”

As far as stolen guitars, he commented, “We are also exploring going beyond this offering insurance on the instrument, and implementing a ‘call home’ type device that operates via the cellular network.” He says, “Technology will allow us to make this investment much more secure.” Gibson has a registry, matching serial numbers with guitars.

Hopefully with all the theft going on, all guitar manufacturers will take the problem of theft into consideration, making it easier for stolen guitars to be retrieved by their rightful owners.

~Phyllis Pollack

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