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Lost & Stolen Gear Stories: How did you get the gear back? Advice for the rest of us?

Discussion in 'Lost & Stolen Gear' started by Blackbird, Apr 28, 2003.

  1. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I mark all of my expensive equipment internally with my name so that it can be legally identified if found. Examples: marking my name with a fine permanent ink pen inside the bass control cavity, inside the back cover of amp, inside any screw on housing, etc. I also maintain an updated list of everything I own including serial numbers and digital pictures of all of my gear (digital pictures are bassically free and only require a moment to take.

    Always assume that there are thieves around waiting to steal your stuff at any time, because if you do any gigging or if your gear is where it can be publicly seen, then there WILL be thieves drooling over it at some point and they are only waiting for an opportunity to steal it. Don't give anyone that opportunity.

    If I ever have anything stolen I would scour the local shops and also craigslist and ebay posing as an interested shopper. Then, if I DO spot it, I DON'T tip them off that I'm anything other than an interested buyer, but I get the police and explain to them that I have proof that my stuff is in the posession of thieves (this is where taking pictures and making lists and marking and identifying your gear works) and demand that they recover it for me NOW while I go along with them to positively identify it and press charges.

    And if I had good reason to think that the police would not be able to help in that particular instance, I would only then consider acting on my own and possibly using force to get my stuff back.

    And remember the rule about violence: Use force only as a last resort, but when it becomes necessary, use it in amounts sufficent to win.
    PhillipHolbrook likes this.
  2. Lorne


    Nov 21, 2005
    Devon U.K.
    Well,this is going to be a long winded thing,so time to roll a cigarette and unleash the typing skills ha ha ha

    Ok,I work on the Unofficial B.C.Rich serial number archive,and if someone tells me a guitar or bass was stolen from them,I will write that fact and their contact details down in the "Additional Comments" section for that instrument

    So,3 years ago I ask a guy for the serial numbers of his basses and any others he might have owned-he provided several and 1 from a trans red USA B.C.Rich TJ Mockingbird that was stolen from him in 1987 from a loadout from a gig in New York-he provided rather poor pictures of it.
    I am online virtually 24/7 looking for BCR's for the archive.

    A year later I see someone on a forum selling an identical bass-I asked for the serial number of the bass,but by then the guy had already sold it,I asked who he sold it too,and he basically lied and said he had sold it privately and didn't know what the purchasers name was.
    I did a massive amount of research on the seller and found out his full name,address,phone number,wife's name and job,and his band name.
    Then I turned it all over to the original owner-he contacted the seller-who was NOTHING to do with the origianl theft-he bought the bass and several other musical items from an estate sale,but the seller suddenly remembered selling it to a specific shop in Long Island,we searched the shop's online site and saw the bass.
    The next day the original owner called the shop,but the bass had been sold,but they gave him the buyer's contact details.
    The new owner ummmed and ahhhed for a while and then charged the original owner $1k over what he had paid for it,but the Original owner had not seen this bass for 20 years and it was his 2nd ever bass,due to the Statute of Limitaions,he had to buy the bass or never see it again-I recommended he bought it back,and he is extremely glad he did-the bass had remained in New York since it as stolen there in 1987!!!
    He got the bass back in January 2007-it took me a year to find it!

    Part 2

    I saw a ad on 2000 guitars listing a Mockingbird guitar that was stolen and offering a $300 reward for information leading to it's recovery

    Another guitar that was stolen in 1987!!!,this time from North Dakota,must've been a bad year!

    I emailed the guy,explaining who I was and that I had already found the bass,so anything was possible,I asked for and got some pretty poor photo's of the guitar (No digital pictures back then)

    3 months later I see a similar guitar listed for sale at the Guitar center website,I email,asking for the serial # and yep,it was the same guitar,although this time someone had changed the bridge!

    I contacted the original owner,and gave him the details and he also managed to get the guitar back,by purchasing it (At a discounted rate!) It took me 3 months to find this one.

    He only sent me $75 of the promised reward though,no biggie,but then he sent me a picture of the Mockingbird back home beside his 2 USA B.C.Rich Biches,which he refused to let me have the serial numbers of!!! ha ha ha

    Anyway,I'm not blowing my own trumpet here,I am online 24/7,looking for B.C.Riches and their serial numbers,and on the archive,I do have "STOLEN" written on any that are,so it is enevitable,that sometimes things will turn up

    All I am saying is,if the guitar/bass is that important to you,NEVER give up hope of finding it-these guys didn't and 20 years later,each,they have their instruments back:)
    Max Bogosity and sludgetail like this.
  3. LHbassist

    LHbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    Reno, Nevada
    Hello fellow bassists...see my series of posts regarding my lefty Lake Placid Blue CIJ Fender P-bass stolen in Reno, Nevada. I got it back almost a month later. It was the only thing taken from my home. If you read through the posts, you'll see why...the thief thought it was an original, valuable '66. I recently hired a 'handyman' to do some roof repairs, and a bathroom renovation. This person is a friend of a great guitarist I respect and have known for many years. He once had a methamphetamine addiction, and is now clean- he claims. His friend, the handyman...well, I don't know. That was mistake #1. I hired him because he was just released from jail and needed a job. DUH! what the hell was I thinking!? That's the problem.
    He had a pass key, and on the night of the theft, that pass key was missing. No one else had access to my home, and being the trusting person that I am, thought all was cool. Mistake #2. I have hidden identifiers in ALL my basses, and my name, a date, and ss# are clearly marked in a spot only I know. This is what got me my bass back. My advice to all of you, stay clear of suspected drug users and their associates, no matter how 'cool' they're supposed to be. NEVER let them see your gear, or know any of your personal information. They will always believe they can outsmart you. I call what they say "Junkie Babble." Sh*t like- "Oh, he's clean now" or, "I haven't had any sh*t for a year" Run for the hills when you hear that. Meth addiction has something like a 5% recovery rate. Tweakers themselves have warned me not to trust one. I know several meth users. I'll bet some of you know some, too. Unfortunately, meth use is at an epidemic here in Reno, and worse in some other places out west...and spreading. For those that can afford to- insure your gear. LOCK your home. Alarms are a good idea as well. I'm sorry to say this is what we have to do because of the kind of society we live in.
    sludgetail likes this.
  4. chrisplaysbass

    chrisplaysbass Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2007
    White Plains NY
    Endorsing Artist: labella strings, Aguilar Amplification, Cusack Electronics, Xotic effects
    Hey i just thought id throw this up in case something turns up. THanks the advice by the way.

    Stolen goods

    EPifani UL-110 speaker cab

    Pedal Board containing
    Gator Pedal Bag
    Plexiglass Pedal Board (home made)
    Boss Tuner
    Radial Labs Big Shot Mix
    Radial Labs Big Shot EFX
    Radial Labs Tri-Mode
    Line 6 Modulation
    Electro Harmonix Big Muff (nano)
    Pedal Snake 4M18

    PM if you see or hear anything.
  5. nnenterprise


    Mar 1, 2009
    well, i haven't had any stolen.. but i did come into possession of a guitar that i didn't know was stolen until i tried to sell it on ebay and got accused by everyone for stealing it.... lol :S i'm still working details out with the owner though to get it returned to the right hands. ^_^
  6. Screaming Stone

    Screaming Stone

    Sep 21, 2007
    I'm a member of that unfortunate Been Ripped Off Club. Some thief stole a first run Minarik Lotus Gold Top guitar from me in Seattle, WA. Police said less than 3% chance of them finding it. Told me to look every day in every pawn shop and to look every day on Craigslist and Ebay. Couldn't really do that - and I figured that was the problem - one musician doesn't have the time to keep looking - but if more musicians knew about the instrument theft - then all those musicians could keep a look out for the stolen gear.

    Its basically that experience that lead me to start the Stolen Music Instrument Recovery Project. I publicize instrument thefts to other musicians - the more people looking the better chance we have at finding the stolen gear.

    As for advice - the best thing is to first document all of your gear. Take pictures including pics of the serial numbers.

    Before you buy a used instrument - check if it's stolen - you could get a couple hundred bucks just for finding the stolen gear.

    And please spread the word about Screaming Stone - as you can tell by this thread - allot of us musicians have been ripped off and we'd love to get our gear back.

  7. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Inactive Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    A load-in/load-out security protocol tip & tale from TalkBass member FFTT:

  8. mndean


    Mar 20, 2009
    Since I'd been around addicts of all types, I know you're right. Tweakers are the most likely to steal, and they plan their thefts. Crack/coke addicts tend to be more opportunistic thieves, if they see a way to get something quick, they'll take it. They don't seem to plan as much. Junkies are like tweakers, but a lot more inept - I've heard more comical "how I got busted stealing" stories from junkies than any other users. Oh, and all addicts say never trust another addict, no matter what they say. They steal from each other most of all. From what I've seen, drug recovery rates depend on how long a person was using before wanting to get clean and doing it. The longer the use, the less likely the recovery.

    This doesn't even include others who'll steal just to get money or something they like. If someone you don't know well really admires your gear (more than in passing) and it disappears, there's your best suspect. Won't always be him, but he'd be #1 for me. Stolen gear never happened to me with music gear, but my car stereo ended up taken by someone at a Jiffy Lube (he mentioned how nice my car stereo was, the next morning it was gone - he got the address off the car registration), but there was little I could do except claim the insurance.
    LHbassist likes this.
  9. afromoose

    afromoose Guest

    I just got my bass back

    It was away for about a week and a half to two weeks.

    The way it came back to me was that I went into a guitar shop to report the theft and there was a guy in the shop at the time who overheard me telling the shop owner. A week later he was walking down the street and a scally offered him the bass guitar in the back of his car. He recognised it instantly as being mine and went to the guy in the shop.

    So I had to pay 50 quid to the shop guy, which then got given to the scally to get my bass back.

    However, I'm very suspicious about the whole thing, which reeks of a scam.

    Since my bass came back I've carved my name into it with a soldering iron and a screwdriver as a deterrent to any thief.

    My advice is don't tell anybody about your instruments, don't let anybody into your house unless you know them well, and keep your instruments out of site and under lock and key.

    From the brief experience I've just had dealing with reclaiming stolen property, I can say for sure that there are a lot of crooks out there, and that it is far more organised than you might think, even though the amounts of money changing hands are low, people know the value of a musicians instrument and that it's irreplaceable and they will very happily pay 50 quid to get it back.

    I know it might come across like I'm overly cynical, but there are many circumstances too lengthy to go into here surrounding my theft that are very suspicious.

    My other advice is that if you're instrument is stolen, make it as public as possible that you are looking for it, because probably the theives would be very interested in selling it back to you (indirectly) so they can go and buy some drugs. They will steal a thousand pound instrument to make 20 or 30 quid, in all seriousness.
    PhillipHolbrook likes this.
  10. ialma


    Jul 1, 2006
    South Italy
    A fellow bassplayer got this amazing vintage Ibanez Musician bass stolen from his car.
    Two weeks after the instrument appears in local music store, BUT the idiot had not even filed a police report, convinced he would have never seen it again.
    Then instead of rushing to the shop, the owner waited two or three days, atfer which the instrument had of course disappeared.
    Three lessons :
    1) always photograph your instruments (i could recognise mine blindfolded)
    2) always file a police report
    3) never leave any instrument in a car.
    That's why my bass always comes with me in a cordura bag.
  11. MikeyP-Funk


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    I agree with Arrrrgh. I was playing a battle of the bands gig with a new group and the band equipment staging area was right next to the load-in/out exit. That should have raised a red flag right there. We played our set and put our gear in line to load out. After the next bands' set we went to load our gear out and my Yamaha bass head, the guitar players Jackson 10 and Gibson Flying V were missing! We immediately swarmed the parking lot and pretty much had the culprits cornered but since we didn't actually "see" the guys stealing our stuff, the police we called couldn't/wouldn't search their van. The next morning me and the guitar player contacted every pawn shop in the Atlanta Metro area. Luckily we had serial numbers, photos and a fax machine at our disposal. Within two days our gear showed up, the cops arrested the thief (one of the guys we suspected earlier) and we had to go to the police station and claim our stuff.

    The moral to this story is: most guys who steal your gear aren't stealing it to use it themselves. They're going to sell it and get it off their hands. File a police report and check every pawn shop, posts on craigslist, ads in the free weekly AND before you get ripped off - note all your serial numbers, take pictures of your gear, mark your gear (I wrote the last four of my SSN inside my cabs and amp chassis with a Sharpie) and keep an eye on it when you've got a lot of coming and going.

    I've had two other axes ('76 Fender Jazz and a '77 Rickenbacker 4001) go missing that were never recovered.
  12. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Inactive Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
  13. RonSound

    RonSound Proud Registered Supporter of Talkbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 24, 2008
    owner: RonSound effects and repairs
    I had my '66 Mosrite Ventures bass stolen out of my car back around 1990. It was parked in front of my mom's house in a small town. The thieves (who I found out later were on bikes) left the lighter '67 Epiphone Coronet in the car. I was so sick about the loss I left work early the next day, went back to the town and had a friend who knows everybody look into it. Sure enough, he found it within 24 hrs. The kids who stole it traded it for weed and they torched the original hardshell case. I paid $125 to get it back and immediately retired it from active service. I know the guy who had it and I'm so tempted to retaliate somehow but I'm not supposed to know he had it.
  14. mikerophone


    Mar 10, 2010
    Denver, CO
    Here's a detailed account of how I recovered my 1981 Ibanez Musician. It was stolen from my car either just before or just after I left town for the weekend (still not 100% sure) and sold to a pawn shop the next day. When I returned home and found it missing, I called my band to make sure I didn't leave it at our practice space, then called the police to file a report. I didn't keep the serial number on file, which was a big mistake, but luckily I did have pretty good pictures on hand. I posted them in "STOLEN GEAR ALERT" messages on craigslist and facebook (many of my friends re-posted), I made fliers with the case number that i dropped off at every pawn shop and music store I could get to.

    After reading some posts here about some pawn shops trying to unload stuff immediately after finding out that it was stolen, I felt discouraged and stopped leaving the fliers. I believe (especially now, having dealt with them) that if I had left one with the store that had the bass, they would have notified the police and I would have had my bass back sooner, but I guess I can't be sure.

    I was also checking craigslist and ebay listings every day. The headstock on my bass was painted over, and the Ibanez logo was covered up, so I didn't just search listings for Ibanez Musician, or even Ibanez basses in general. I looked at every bass listed since the day I left town. Even after I bought a replacement, I kept checking.

    After almost 8 weeks, there it was. Listed on ebay, and the seller was a pawn shop in town. I about had a heart attack. I looked up the store online, called one of their 13 locations in the area and asked about the ebay listing. They told me which store it was at, and I immediately called the police (my call was tranferred to a detective's voicemail and i had to leave a message), then went to the store with my photos and police report in hand. When I got there, I told them that it was stolen, showed them pictures and the report, and they were very cool about it. The manager took down the ebay listing right away, and told me to get a hold of the police because they have to go through their process before I can get it back. so I called the police again right there and left a message with the store address.

    A detective eventually called me back and took some information from me, told me that the pictures were VERY helpful to have since I didn't have the serial. They put a "police hold" on my bass, then got the pawn ticket from the shop that the bass was sold to. They confirmed that it wasn't a person I knew, and that I never gave this person my permission to take my stuff. This whole thing took about three weeks up until this morning, when the detective called to tell me that I could finally go get my bass from the District 5 Administration building. I went to pick it up immediately.

    TL;DR - important lessons: keep your serial numbers on file, and detailed pictures are handy. also, file a police report.
    it took two and a half months (and a lot of effort) for me to recover my bass, but if i had filed the serial number with my police report, the pawn unit would have found it within the week.
  15. madbass6

    madbass6 Inactive

    Jan 13, 2009
    I do not give consent to use any of my photos ! please respect that. thank you.
    Awsome !! lucky you, your friend did the rite thing!!!
  16. Zack Sewell

    Zack Sewell Commercial User

    Jul 31, 2017
    All gear listed is my own and not related to the store I work at.
    I'm glad I saw this thread. I manage a large used shop and we've recovered a ton of stuff. Please message me if you work at a store and have questions on how we handle things.

    Photos of you holding it. Your face and serial number if possible. Just bought something? Do this and get the photos somewhere safe. You can even send them to your insurance preemptively.

    Make as many post as possible on forums, Facebook,etc. Include everything they took and where. I've caught people for example by typing in Google, 'stolen trailer Nashville music gear' and have been able to track stuff people have brought in.
    Lownote38 and gaelicsolus like this.
  17. Blind owl bass

    Blind owl bass

    Apr 13, 2018
    I have had many pieces of gear stolen, the worst was on tour with my band The Blind Owl Band. we played a gig in Buffalo Ny, dropped our van and and trailer ar our friends apartment, in nice part of the city, went out for a drink. came back hr or so later, cut the heavy duty locks on the trailer doors. stolen 1942 kay bass(my first upright), 1995 american made fretless pbass (my first good bass, had since 7th grade), ashdown abm 500 head, martin acoustic guitar, Weber mandolin, Stelling Banjo. they even stole our merch, my 4x10 was sitting in the road.....worst part of story is we found em, sort of.

    cancelled 2 shows, paused tour, and we went to every pawn shop. on day 2, an owner (good guy and musician) says hey I heard about your gear getting robbed in FB and then say your gear the next day. Shop owner said "some kid came in with pics on his phone of his grandfathers instruments that he was just given". same kid sold gold rings the day before, didnt mention instruments. so we give our detective this pawn shop guys info, police would not let us be involved. but we hear the suspects street address when the cop is talking.

    from where our trailer was parked and robbed, that street was 3 blocks over, the pawn shop was the closest pawn shop to both that street and where we had parked. so basically we caught the guy.

    Police say they knock on suspects door and ask about instruments. no leads.

    so basically they go without a warrant, tip off the guy, and then leave. they off no more help because were a bunch of musicians and they have real problems to deal with.

    crack for instrument exchange program is well alive in the northeast.
  18. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I got 2 out of 6 back that were stolen from me when my house was broken into, and I did it by checking all the pawn shops around here and getting to know the owners personally. I also checked Guitar Center a lot. Guess where I found 2 of my basses? Yep. Guitar Center. I also always carried the police report with me, and still do just in case I spot one of the other 4. Here in Nashville, you can't get your stolen good back unless you have the police report to prove your claim. I was able to retrieve those two basses, and get a Guitar Center manager fired for knowingly taking in my stolen gear. One of the 2 basses is an irreplaceable 1968 Daphne Blue Fender Precision. It's safe and sound right behind me as I type this.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2020
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 3, 2021

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