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Protecting your Music Gear

How to mark and document your musical instruments and equipment and what to do if it is stolen.

Last updated: 07 January 2021

Marking your equipment

We recommend marking your equipment so that it can be traced in the event of a theft.

An ultra-violet (UV) pen is good for invisibly marking gear (there are also a number of other alternatives). You can get advice from a Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) by calling your nearest main police station.

Documenting your equipment

If marking your valuable vintage equipment is not an option, the most important thing you can do is take detailed photographs and write a short description of each item.

That way, if the worst should occur, the police will have concrete details to work with — this will also help with any insurance claim.

Take photos of the item from the front, back and sides against a plain white or grey background (not a carpet), with a ruler next to it to indicate size. Make sure that the photos show any unique features or markings.

Write a description with the make, model, serial number (if applicable), age, origin, finish and measurements. Keep the photos and descriptions in a safe place, away from the item itself.

What to do if your instrument is stolen

If your equipment is stolen, immediately inform your insurers and the police regarding the theft.

Prepare an information sheet with pictures and details of the stolen equipment, your contact details and the Crime Number that has been issued to you by the police. This information sheet can easily be handed out at local music shops and its elements posted on the internet, which will go a long way to help recover your stolen equipment.

If you know where the equipment was stolen, ask to see any CCTV footage that is likely to have been taken — for example, by the cameras mounted on the building next door to where the theft occurred — or inform the police that the incident may have been captured by a camera and give them the details of where it is located.

Recovery tips

  • Post notices on internet message boards that specialise in the type of equipment stolen.
  • Contact music shops in your area that purchase used equipment and hand out your info sheet.
  • Talk to staff at your area’s cash-for-gear shops, giving them the details of your missing gear.

Useful contacts

Hencilla Canworth

To make a claim under the MU’s insurance cover, simply call or email. Have your policy number and MU membership number to hand. For policy information, log on to Hencilla Canworth’s website  or view our music instrument insurance page.  

Association of Chief Police Officers (APCO)
Crime Prevention Initiatives. How to secure your home or studio.

Metropolitan Police
A contact list of all the local police stations across London and general anti-theft advice.

Violin Valuations
The online sister company of Bristol’s Cremona House Violin Shop has a bulletin board for listing stolen stringed instruments.

The Mouth Piece
This Birmingham brass emporium’s internet forum has a Lost, Found & Stolen Goods Register where you can post a notice.

Vintage And Rare Guitars
Call this well-respected retailer to register a stolen guitar, bass, amplifier or accessories. Alternatively, send an email via a form on the website. 

Cash Generator
Another chain with stores around the UK. The phone numbers of your local branches can be found using the website’s Store Finder

MU Instrument insurance

The MU provides musical instrument insurance to members  – the cost is already covered by the MU membership fee, but you do need to register for cover in advance.