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Elizabeth Shaak

OH MY GOD IT’S GONE! (What to Do If Your Instrument is Stolen)

July 19, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Before you have a problem with a lost instrument:

Take close up photos of your instrument, and bows. You don’t need professional photos. Just use your phone and get it done. Write a description of each piece (violin label, bow stamps, any numbers, etc.) Put your business card or other contact info in your case (possibly, with a note mentioning a reward for returning your instrument.) Lastly, NEVER leave your instrument in a parked car.

Make a police report.

Send out an email. Ask recipients to forward it.

It should include when, where and how it went missing. Explain what went missing by including pictures, descriptions of the instrument, bow(s) and case, including any label and stamp information. Add dimensions and/or any peculiar characteristics. Put the instrument and bow’s name in the subject area (e.g. “FAGNOLA violin, VOIRIN bow STOLEN.” This makes is easy for any shop to search an email archive should a suspicious instrument come in their shop days, months or years later. (Shop owners, create a “Stolen” label in your mail and archive all notices you receive there.)

Some good places to email:
1. Musical instrument insurers and professional organizations with a large member base:,,,, (American Federation of Violin and Bow Making, Violin Society of America, Heritage Insurance for the Musical Arts and Trades, Clarion Music Insurance, respectively.) Ask them if they could forward the information on to its dealers/members.
2. You can create your own shop list at the American Federation of Violin & Bow Makers Web site:

Use the internet. Post it!
1. Maestronet Stolen Registry:
2. (only if you’re a member)
3. Violin Society of America:
a. On their FaceBook page
b. On their Twitter:
c. LinkedIn:
4. The Strad Magazine:
5. American String Teacher’s Association or ASTA:
Post on their FaceBook page at “ASTA America”

1. The maker of your instrument or bow (if contemporary) to alert them.
2. All local violin shops and other music shops
3. Google “pawn shops + your town name” to get a list of shops to call.

Taking these measures will increase the likelihood of getting back you precious instrument.
Save this information somewhere where you can find again. Hopefully you’ll never need it.

Good Luck!

Thanks to Lori Kirr (VSA), Laurie Niles (, Jeffrey Solow (ASTA), Ariane Todes (The Strad Magazine), Ellis Hershman (Heritage Insurance Co.) for helping to compile this information.

Have you ever lost and recovered an instrument? How did it happen?

From Lloyd Mills
Posted on July 20, 2013 at 2:58 PM
I just want to thank you for submitting such a thorough and well thought out piece! I'm currently learning to play violin and have a good beginner instrument on loan from a friend. I hadn't thought about it being lost or stolen and it would crush me if that happened, but thanks to your post, I've made sure most of those details have been sorted out.
From Karis Crawford
Posted on July 20, 2013 at 6:52 PM
You may want to clarify that this is what you do if your violin is stolen in America! My violin was stolen in Kenya - and none of this would apply there. The police and the very few and far between music shops there wouldn't know what to do, nor would they be helpful in any way. Thankfully, I got it back after persistent detective research, tracking down the thugs that took it and making a deal with them in a back alley (that actually involved very little money since they thought they were stealing a laptop), but it was 3 weeks of nail-biting terror before I had my baby back in one piece!
From desmond timms
Posted on July 21, 2013 at 7:17 AM
Very welcome and well thought out - thank you. I've had a number of enquiries about fitting tracking devices (easily done) in Cases we make for high end Instruments. However I would have thought that if one were stealing a well known Instrument - the first thing that one would part company with (to help avoid detection) would be the Case it was actually Stolen in. Best wishes. Desmond.

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