Equipment theft will always be an eventuality for touring and recording musical artists. Even the most popular musicians are not above this situation as can be seen from a simple Pitchfork search. Theft can be traumatic, costly and seemingly strikes at inopportune times, when gear is located in the least safe places, on tour, in a car. Recently hitting close to home, Adam Martinez, guitarist for Houston’s The Ton Tons had his gear stolen from his car earlier last week. Included in the haul were all of his pedals and Epiphone guitar (list at bottom of post) which when combined, create the unique sound that he is known for both in Ton Tons and Studemont Project.

As stated before, this situation is never a good one and can be devastating to bands. The Ton Tons are in the final stages of recording their feature length album which is already being discussed as having the potential to be one of the best albums of the year for Houston musicians. What The Ton Tons need now is to raise money to replace Adam’s pedals and guitar to finish the recording and play SXSW in March. On Friday, they came onto Revelry Report and spoke with Ian and myself about the gear. While they had posted on their Myspace site and this had been picked up by local blogs about the incident (Rocks Off, Space City Rock, Houston Calling), they hadn’t set up a simple way to collect donations from concerned fans to replace their gear. We helped them by setting up a Chipin account (http://thetontons.chipin.com) where fans could directly contribute to the band through a Paypal account we also set up for them.

Analogous to Sex Ed, the only way to truly prevent your gear from being stolen is not to own any. Because abstinence is as ridiculous as not owning any gear there are better methods for prevention and dealing with the consequences in the eventuality some rat bastard decides to pull a heist.

Theft Prevention for your equipment:

Cataloging: Catalog all your equipment including origin, financial worth and serial numbers (I’ve posted a template here (.doc) for any artist/group to use).
Labeling: Clearly label your individual gear and your band’s gear. Consider engraving your equipment (an engraver costs $16 at amazon). As a side note to inventorying your equipment, this also helps answer questions of ownership in the unfortunate circumstance that a band dissolves.
Inventorying: Take an inventory of your gear before and after tour. Visually document your equipment with a stage plot (this is a valuable resource to have as well).
Common Sense Principles: Keep your rehearsal room locked at all times. Keep your car/van locked and in a safe place if possible.  Don’t leave your vehicle unattended while loading/unloading. Keep all easily stolen small items (pedals, microphones, etc.) with you. Don’t park your vehicle in an unsafe area or anywhere you are uncomfortable with.
Financial Protection: Consider getting business insurance to cover your equipment. Local insurance groups should offer this for you. Additionally, you can check out: http://musicproinsurance.com. Insurance is also offered through some credit card companies when purchasing equipment.

Steps to take following a robbery:

  • Immediately call the Police to file a report. In Houston call the Burglary and Theft Division of the Houston Police Department (713.308.0900) to report the theft (a police report is required as proof for insurance reimbursement)
  • Immediately post a recap on any of your band’s digital outposts and hub including details of the event, location, time and circumstances as well as a list of the missing equipment with serial numbers
  • Immediately send an email to the local and national press about the stolen gear including a recap of the events including location, time and circumstances as well as a list of the gear including serial numbers
  • Call local radio stations to report the theft. In Houston, definitely call the community stations: KPFT and KTRU
  • Call local pawn shops with a list of the equipment including serial numbers. In Houston the Property Detail of the Burglary and Theft Division of the Houston Police Department receives a regular list of inventory from local pawn shops including serial numbers). Here is a sufficient contact list for Houston pawn shops
  • If you’re dealing with imbeciles then they might even try and sell it on someplace traceable like craigslist or ebay. It’s worth a cursory glance.
  • Radiohead’s gear manager, Plank, maintains a blog entitled Strings Reunited (http://stringsreunited.com)

Ideas to replace the equipment and bounce back from the loss:

  • Send an email to family and friends about the missing equipment to drum up some funds
  • Think about setting up a Chipin page and include a widget on all of your digital outposts and your own website (http://chipin.com)

  • Offer incentives for people to donate money. For example, The Ton Tons are giving away a free copy of their EP to anyone who donates more than $15. For $300 you get a private performance by the band for you and your close friends
  • Setup a benefit concert to raise money to purchase new equipment
  • Remember to include the name of every person who helps you replace the gear in the liner notes for your next album

Gear stolen from Adam Martinez’s car:
Epiphone Elitist ‘63
Boss digital rotary pedal
Boss super shifter pedal

Boss chromatic tuner pedal
Boss dd-6 digital delay pedal
Dunlop wah pedal
Dunlop fuzz face pedal

One Comment

  1. Excellent post. Thanks, Matthew.

    Posted December 15, 2008 at 5:41 am | Permalink

One Trackback

  1. [...] being robbed of his guitar and some pedals.  Caroline Collective’s Matthew Wettergreen recently posted about it and started a Chipin account to help out with the band’s expenses. In the spirit of [...]

    By Help out The Tontons on December 17, 2008 at 8:00 am

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