As a musician, you don’t see your instruments as ordinary tools of the trade – they also carry lots of sentimental value. That’s why it’s all the more devastating when your cherished instruments are stolen.
Sadly, both professional and amateur musicians are equally at risk of having their instruments stolen. Here is a selection of bands and musicians who learnt this the hard way.
1) A concertmaster – $5 million Stradivarius violin
In 2014, a $5 million violin was stolen in Milwaukee, USA. The violin, known as the Lipinski Stradivarius, is thought to be one of the finest creations of the great violin craftsman Antonio Stradivari. The concertmaster and violinist who had been lent the instrument was tasered as he put it in his car. The thief, a local art robber, was eventually caught and the violin was found in an attic hidden inside a suitcase.
2) Bill Bailey – tour bus
Comedian and musician Bill Bailey had his tour bus stolen outside the Liverpool Royal Philharmonic Hall in 2015. Luckily, none of his instruments were on the bus, but it was full of merchandise and personal possessions. The thief was eventually caught and jailed for two years.
3) R.E.M.’s guitarist – guitar stolen whilst gigging
In 2008, R.E.M.’s lead guitarist, Peter Buck, had his guitar stolen while R.E.M. were playing at the Finnair Stadium in Helsinki. When Buck left the stage, his Rickenbacker 360 guitar had disappeared. The guitar meant a lot to Buck, partly because it was used to record R.E.M.’s 1982 single Chronic Town. A few days later, the guitar was returned after the band made a public plea to get it back, promising a generous, “no questions asked” reward.
4) The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – £45,000 of instruments stolen
It’s not just musicians that have their instruments stolen – institutions do too. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland had £45,000 worth of instruments stolen by a former employee. The instruments were taken and sold over a two-month period. The thief was eventually caught and police recovered £27,000 worth of instruments.
5) Pontarddulais Town Band – £18,000 of instruments stolen and sold for scrap
You don’t have to be a rock and roll legend to be a victim of theft. In 2011, the Pontarddulais Town Band, an award-winning brass ensemble, had their instruments stolen. The £18,000 worth of brass and percussion equipment was sold to a scrap metal merchant in Swansea for £61. Unfortunately, the instruments were crushed, but the thieves and the scrap metal dealer were later prosecuted.
You can insure your instruments and equipment against theft when you are gigging or touring, both in the UK and abroad, with Insure4Music. If your equipment is stolen, we can also cover you for loss of earnings and the cost of equipment hire. Get an instrument insurance quote today.
Creative responses to stolen equipment
There have been some very creative responses to instrument theft posted online. Country singer Zane Williams had his gear stolen while playing in Houston, Texas, and posted an ironic song for the thieves on YouTube. Meanwhile, New York band Atomic Tom decided to play a gig using only their iPhones after having their equipment stolen. You can watch these videos below: