Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In the case of equipment theft, that is certainly true. If your band’s equipment gets stolen the night before your next show, all the insurance in the world will not replace it in time. You will be running around at the last minute trying to borrow whatever you can get to play with.
There are 3 kinds of theft for Christian Bands to be concerned about:
• Planned, intentional heist – There is not a lot we can do about a planned, intentional heist of band equipment. If someone is really bent on harming your ministry by stealing all your gear, they will find a way to do it. The best we can do is to make it more difficult and take longer.
• Unplanned, taking advantage of an opportunity – Bands often lose large amounts of equipment at all at once due to people taking advantage of an opportunity. We can do a lot about people who see an opportunity and take advantage of it simply by decreasing the amount of opportunity. Although the thief may show up at your gig hoping to steal something, the specifics of this kind of equipment theft are unplanned and so, more easily thwarted.
• Unintentionally grabbing someone else’s equipment – Smaller equipment is lost at gigs between sets or during set up and tear down. This kind of equipment theft is most often unintentional. We can almost completely eliminate these losses with a little preparation. Even if you only lose a couple cords a year, it adds up. So, the time spent fixing the problem is money saved.
Here are some preventative steps you can take to keep your equipment:
• Colored tape – Plastic colored tape is a great way to easily identify which cords and extension cords belong to your band and which do not. Choose a band color and wrap that one color of tape around each end of every cord. Then, use a sharpie marker to write the name or initials of your band on the colored tape. You will be amazed at how easily you can pack up your gear without getting it confused with some other bands cords. This one simple step saves tear down time as well as ensures you get all your cords back.
• Stencils – Your bands name can be easily stenciled on every case you have. Use a plastic spray paint like Krylon fusion
for the best adhesion to anything plastic (most road cases). Wood cases can be painted with any typical house paint (a great way to use up leftovers if you have recently painted). I bought a large blank sheet of stencil plastic from a local craft store and cut my own stencil.
Then I used stencil glue to temporarily adhere the stencil to the case. A little spay paint, remove the stencil and voila… a very cool case! One added benefit Right Side Cast did not expect from doing this was making an entrance upon arriving at the venue. I especially noticed high school age people starting to text each other to come to the show when they saw the band unloading because they were impressed with the image the band projected.
• Engraving – Anything metal should be engraved. This includes microphones and tools. Amazon has an inexpensive but effective engraving tool: Dremel 290-01 0.2 Amp 7,200 Stroke Per Minute Engraver includes Letter and Number Template
The loss of even one microphone makes it well worth taking the time to engrave them.
Do NOT leave equipment unattended… ever.
A church is NOT safe. In fact, insurance statistics show that equipment is frequently stolen from churches because we make it very easy on the thieves. Church doors are left unlocked, the band does not know all the church staff and the staff does not know the band. Additionally, there are any number of roadies and people that just showed up to help. So, someone walking out of the building carrying a piece of equipment goes largely unnoticed. Thieves know this. People who are looking for an opportunity figure it out quickly. And people that are trying to overcome a past of stealing are tempted.
The best way to prevent equipment from “walking away” is to tag team – someone from the band stays with the equipment all the time… during meals, during prayer, when other bands are performing. Pay attention to times when you have equipment in two places, such as partially loaded or unloaded, and keep people in both places. This is where a band roadie or family member can really help.
Be careful when you park
• Lock it up. I know it sounds silly to have to remind you to lock your vehicles and trailer. But, in the all the activity of a gig, it is easy to forget. Make sure every band member has keys so you are not wasting time finding the keys when you need something. But also make sure every band member is impressed with the responsibility of locking it up again. A guitar, laptop, or phone left in an inadvertently unlocked vehicle is too hard for any thief to pass up. Most car insurance will not cover items left in an unlocked vehicle. So, you could lose your stuff permanently because someone else did not lock up.
• Dark alleys, unattended parking lots, and parking garages are not the safest places to park. So, where do you park a trailer and van full of equipment? Right in front of the venue, in full view of everyone whenever possible. Think of it as advertising. Once the equipment is unloaded feel free to move your vehicle to a less prominent location if the venue needs the parking spaces.
• Back your trailer up to the side of a building so the doors of the trailer won’t open when you have to stay somewhere overnight.
By paying attention to these preventative measures we can hope to decrease the amount of equipment that is stolen from Christian bands. We need to be responsible with the equipment God has provided. But even with the best prevention, sometimes equipment may still be taken. So, what is our response when we or another band loses equipment? Love. Love for the thief, love for the negligent person, love for the other band that lost equipment. It is after all, only equipment. It can be replaced.
Do you have more tips to prevent band equipment theft? Leave a comment!
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