What To Do When Your DJ / Production Gear Gets Stolen
It’s a pretty terrifying prospect: return home or to your studio only to find broken glass, a busted lock, and empty shelves. DJs and producers often own lots of very valuable gear, so today we look at a few ways to help get your gear back and start making / mixing music ASAP after getting robbed. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever have anything stolen, read this article to learn what you can do now to make things easier if it ever happens!
BEFORE: KEEPING YOUR GEAR SAFE
A big part of being ready for any major disaster is any amount of work you’ve done to prepare. This is why people have car insurance, earthquake survival kits, road flares – but as a DJ or producer there are quite a few things you can do to make sure a break-in isn’t the end of your hard-earned gear and knowledge.
Secure Your Gear
The obvious deterrant to theft is being smart about how you store your DJ gear. Lock your doors, even when you’re at home, and restrict access to anyplace where you keep expensive gear. This goes beyond just locking your front door:
- Buy locks! Many pieces of DJ and computer gear have Kensington lock ports on the back of them. You can lock your gear to a harder-to-steal object like your desk.
- Keep it on the D/L: thefts are usually not random – so make sure anyone who knows that you’ve got a complete DJ or production setup in your house or studio is trustworthy.
- Hide your small items: If you’ve got small-but-valuable items like a back up harddrive or an OP-1 synth, consider finding an out-of-site spot for them to live when you’re done using them. Robberies often are fast – grab what you see and run with it – so any effort to hide things could pay off.
Get Renter’s / Home Owner’s Insurance
This is the ultimate saving grace – having insurance that covers your personal possessions and gear. If you do one thing on this list, do this one. Renter’s insurance covers your possessions in your home, but it also often covers items that are locked in the trunk of your car – which is big for any DJ!
Renter’s insurance can be very cheap – as low as $10 a month. Even if you never have to take advantage of it, the peace of mind of being able to get the entire value of your DJ gear if it gets stolen is well worth it. If you’re running a business, you might need to note in your application that you make money with the gear being covered as that often effects what type of policy they write you.
One bonus tip: for students living in college dorms, if your parents have renter’s or homeowners insurance, that might also cover you. Ask your parents to ask their agent! It’s worth it. Trust me.
BIG TIP – IF YOU DO GET RENTERS INSURANCE. READ THIS OR YOU WONT GET ANYTHING.
I recently had my home broken into and they took my production laptop. Not the end of the world, it was backed up and I have renters insurance, except for one little thing: They will make you “prove” the loss. In order to actually get any money for your studio gear you will need the following items saved in advance or they may not pay a dime:
- Photo with you and the gear
- Photo of the gear in your space
- Original Receipt of the Gear that proves what you paid.
- A police report listing the same items as stolen
– Ean Golden
Document Your Gear + Purchases
The only way that you can make sure you know everything you have is if you document it! This is important for if you do ever get something stolen. Here’s a few documentation steps to take:
- Photograph Your Gear (ideally in context): this is good mostly so that when something happens, you can easily have proof that you really did own this thing and you’re not just making it up.
- Make A List Of Serial Numbers (software and hardware): the police will want serial numbers on all of your physical gear so they can get it back to you if it’s recovered. Having software serials written down will allow you to reactivate them on your new machine.
- Photograph Your Receipts: Every time you buy a piece of gear, just snap a quick pic of your receipt. This will allow you to quickly provide your insurance agent with an estimated value
Install A Laptop Tracking App Like Prey
There’s a service out there called Prey that you can install on computers and smart devices that allows you to track a device after it has been stolen, see where it’s being used, and even take photos of the person using it. Police departments are often confused at how well this works – but having evidence of where a piece of your personal property is and the ability to show the cops really makes a difference. It’s worth checking out as it’s free!
Back Up Everything
Here’s a great way to create some backup compulsion in all of you. Next time you leave your home or studio where you spend most of your time mixing or producing, look back at it and imagine what you would do if suddenly everything in it vanished. This is why backing up your data is so important.
If you’ve got a great library of songs and incredible playlists, back them up. If you’ve got an amazing work in progress album, back it up. You should be doing this every day, but we know that’s not always realistic. Find a system that works for you and commit to it – here’s our longer article on Backing Up Your Digital DJ Data.
IF YOUR GEAR DOES GET STOLEN
Ok, so bad things went down and now you have to deal with broken glass and missing equipment. First off – don’t panic! Make sure you feel safe before you do anything else.
Call The Cops
Yes, really, this is the first step. Even if you live in a really dangerous place where they won’t come for hours. Odds are pretty good they won’t be dusting for fingerprints. While you wait for them to show up:
- Photograph the scene of the crime
- See if you can figure out everything that is missing and make a list
- Ask your neighbors if they saw anything
When the cops show up (if at all – if not, you often can open a police report online in major cities), give them your list of everything that was stolen (include those serial numbers). Make sure you get a police report from them – or at least a case number.
Know that the cops likely won’t solve this situation right away – but filing a report is important for insurance purposes.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Remember how I told you to get renter’s insurance? This is where it pays off. They’ll also ask for a complete description of what happened, what was stolen, etc. They’ll want photos and serial numbers as well.
The process often takes some time, but after a loss insurance agents are often very good about investigating what the cost of replacing your stolen items would be. When I had to make a renter’s insurance claim, it was processed within just two weeks – allowing me to replace my stolen stuff. This will be different for every policy / agency.
Check Craigslist / Pawn Shops
If your police department is good / doesn’t have a ton of more serious stuff to deal with, they’ll do this for you. Assume that they won’t – keep your eye out on Craigslist for your stuff. If you see it, you can try to arrange a meeting with the person selling it and then call the cops and get them to come with you to reclaim your items.
Pawn shops are actually required in most places to keep a log of info about the people selling things to them – so it’s worth visiting or calling and asking about your super-high-value items.
Whatever you do, don’t go vigilante and attempt to take justice into your own hands. You’re a DJ, not Batman. Police often will bust someone selling stolen goods on Craigslist and find tons of other items – which they can then check against their database of serial numbers and get back their owners – assuming they wrote their serial numbers down in the first place.
Header image is my own Photoshop mashup, but the studio being robbed belongs to DJTT member Takerith