Friday, February 13, 2009

Stop Thief!

6 or 7 years ago, my band and another band got together to do a small mini-tour of the Western part of the US. We played our first show in Vancouver and drove back to Seattle that same night. Exhausted, we decided not to unpack the trailer. After all, it was parked in a good neighborhood, and it was almost dawn, so surely it would be safe.

Yeah. Not so much.

We all slept in the next morning, and in broad daylight, some vehicle pulled up next to ours, unhitched the trailer from our van and on to theirs, and drove off with it. Chances are if you're reading this, I don't have to tell you how pissed off we were. I'm a pretty mellow guy, but had we ever found out who took our stuff, I would've had no qualms about 'paying them a visit' if you catch my drift. One thing you just don't mess with is a musician's instruments. But, not everyone follows the same rule book as you and I, so it's a reality that if you aren't careful (and obviously, the best advice is to be fanatically careful with your gear, as we are now), sooner or later, someone might make off with your stuff. So what do you do?

A reader of this blog named Mike sent me a link to a company that has one possible solution from a company called
STOP. The way it works is you affix a metal 'security plate' to the bottom of your gear that has a unique bar code on it. This code, along with the make, model, and serial number of your gear is registered with the company, and a phone number is included, so if someone finds your gear for sale, in a pawn shop, at a swap meet, etc., they can call to ensure it is returned to its rightful owner. Even if the thieves succeed in prying the metal plate off, it leaves behind a 'tattoo' on the equipment identifying it as stolen property and again including the phone number.

Not a bad idea, but I think the main problem with this is that it counts on people to do the right thing. I have no doubt that it works a lot of the time, but relying on human nature seems a bit risky to me. Still, I guess it's better to take that chance than to have no means of protection at all. So until they invent LoJack for synths, this might be a good option.


Anu said...

A better solution would be some sort of tiny RFID thing that you stick INSIDE the gear. Hard to find, easy to detect with a reader. Vendors at shops could wave an RFID gun over the gear.

Similar low-tech solution is to tape a business card inside the gear somewhere.

Unfortunately, like the metal plate, none of these options will deter people from taking your gear in the first place.

And all the solutions rely on the buyers actually caring whether or not the gear is stolen.

It might just deter the thieves a little from reselling it, which means it'd just get trashed.

My take has always been "don't take anything on the road you don't mind losing".

brandon daniel said...

For those who feel they might be too tired to unload the trailer at the end of the night, I highly recommend buying your own "Boot" type device for ensuring said trailer is at least immobile, requiring aspiring thieves to break into the trailer to practice their cruel arts.

Tom said...

Honestly, the best policy is just to unload the trailer into your hotel room every night. Yeah, it's a huge pain, but if you've got a hand truck (which every touring band should own) and several able bodied-adults, you'd be surprised how quickly you can do it. We've got it down to a science by now and I'm always amazed at how quickly we can do it when the promise of finally getting some sleep is on the other end of it. heh