Recovery tips for your stolen instrument

Visit Us

Recovering a stolen musical instrument takes persistence, and there’s a right way to cover all your bases and increase the chances of getting your instrument back

Recovering a stolen musical instrumentGearTrack recently shared tips for protecting yourself from music instrument theft on Echoes. We’re back to deal with the worst case scenario: how to recover your stolen musical instrument when you discover it’s missing. Follow this advice, and stay safe out there.

1) Let the cops know
While local law enforcement may not make the same effort as you at finding your stolen instrument, having your theft on file with them is crucial when you (hopefully) locate your instrument and need to recover it. Also, check into local police blotters, community newsletters, and online forums.

2) Reach out to local used retailers
Contact local pawn shops and instrument resale shops — and the sooner the better. This is probably your number one line of defense. A quick flyer with any information regarding your gear (make, color, serial numbers, pictures of the instrument) should be dropped at all the local resale establishments.

3) Monitor used retailers online
Search eBay and Craigslist. If you find your instrument, contact the site and also notify the police. It is not advised that you try to purchase your stolen musical instrument or otherwise recover it on your own. Check out eBay’s stolen goods policy and Craigslist’s recovery tips from ABC News and Stolen 911 for more details.

4) Use your megaphone
Notify friends and family in your online social networks. These people care almost as much about your stuff as you do, and the more eyeballs on your story and gear the better.

5) Ask your local community for help
Contact any local community-driven listservs or crime newsletters. Some neighborhoods have crime specific listservs (here’s an example) that list crime details. Get all your photos, serial numbers, and the best way to contact you to these folks.

6) Participate in online forums and classifieds
The users in online forums are just as passionate as you about your instrument. Users often will keep an eye out for you if you ask. GearTrack has compiled a page of links to some great forums and existing stolen instrument registries.

7) List with GearTrack (of course!)
It’s always free to list a stolen musical instrument at GearTrack. We do instant stolen alerts via Facebook and Twitter to over 7,000 watch dogs. Listing details are fully searchable on our site (and other search engines) by used buyers, sellers, evidence room managers, and anyone else researching gear.

Image of guitar case via

GearTrack is an online registry that aims to deter music instrument theft and aid in recovery. Instrument owners can itemize their collections and victims of theft can send stolen alerts to the WatchDog network and access tools for search and recovery. Buyers and sellers can easily search serial numbers before trading and selling their gear. Learn more and register your instruments at

Read More
Five easy ways to prevent music instrument theft

Tips for Surviving and Thriving on Tour

Indie Touring Posts — How to Be a DIY Tour Pro

Making Money: Merch, Music Gigs, and Your DIY Tour

Gig Etiquette — Set-Up and Breakdown Habits To Live By

The 90-Day Album Release Planner

11 thoughts on “Recovery tips for your stolen instrument

  1. I have used an etching engraver pen to put the last four digits of my SS number in hidden places on my drums cymbals and other instruments also other marks that only I would know.

  2. When I was in high school in the late 80’s the guitar player in the band I was in sold my vintage stainless steel shell Ludwig trap kit out from under me and leave town. As the years went by, word of mouth led me to someone selling an identical kit, which turned out to be mine, only I missed it and the person traded it at a music shop. I did eventually discover what music shop had it (about 100 miles away) and at long last I purchased it back. Then I sued the jerk who sold it out from under me. I won.

  3. My 1977 lefty customized Gibson 335 ended up on an Italian webpage named ‘Hendrix Guitars’. Despite filing info/photo/serial# with detective at NYC precinct 4 years ago I still have no guitar.
    Don’t kid your people that they’re going to get their instrument back. This was a $3,000 guitar on the USA market. Elsewhere it’s worth increases. And don’t expect the cops to help unless it shows up in a pawn shop a few blocks away the same day.
    GET REAL, DISC MAKER web writers!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Some Other Tips:

    Some of the First Place to find your gear is at the nearest Auction House we have found out the hard way. There is no censoring like in Pawn Shop materials and makes it easy to sell due to this. If you go to the pre-views and find your instrument, never say a thing,but directly contact Police due to legal implications, we were told.

    Another place is, Craigslist.

    When going over-seas you should always have a copy of your Serial Numbers to verify that you are the actual owners of your music gear or any other kind of valuables such as cameras, etc. This way if there are issues of boarder-crossings you have a list of names and serial numbers on you to give some resemblance of ownership.

    Charles of “Higher Call” Music
    c/o A “Higher Call” To Artists

  5. I had my 1979 Les Paul Deluxe stolen from my house while I was at work.
    I walked around the neighborhood telling everyone there was a reward for anyone who could lead me to info where to recover it.
    In 24 hours I had the thief and and he was taken into custody though he was no longer in possession of it. However word got out also that the guitar was hot and no one wanted anything to do with it and the other people he hid it with saw a cop car cruising down their street and they were so paranoid they though the cops were coming for them, ran outside and turned it in.
    But it was hell getting it back from the police who were holding it for evidence even after the kid was sent to Juvie. And my guitar and case were full of blue fingerprint dust which is hell to get off. But at least it all ended well. The thief also had to pay me restitution which made up for the reward money I paid out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *