How to Determine If a Musical Instrument is Stolen

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Musical instruments can be large investments. With such a large investment, it can be heart breaking when an instrument is stolen. It can also be a major headache to purchase a musical instrument only to find out later that it was previously stolen and must be returned, often for only a limited refund if a refund is available at all. This article lists the steps necessary to avoid the purchase of a stolen musical instrument.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Magnifying glass
  • Flashlight
  • Buy from reputable sellers to avoid the purchase of a stolen musical instrument. This is one of the most important steps in the avoidance of stolen goods. If an instrument seems too cheap, there is a possibility that it may be stolen. However, do not turn down a good deal if the serial number checks out.

  • Locate the serial number on the instrument. On most wind instruments, the serial number will be printed on the instrument near the mouthpiece. On string instruments, the serial number is typically printed on the inside of the main portion. String instrument serial numbers are typically visible through the left F-Hole if you are facing the front of the instrument. You may need a magnifying glass to see the serial number on some wind instruments. It is likely that you will need a flashlight to see the serial number printed inside most string instruments. The serial number will be a set of numbers containing anywhere from 2 to 6 characters.

  • Write down any specific remarks about the instrument in addition to obtaining the serial number. For example, if a string bass contains a band sticker on the back, write down a description of the sticker. You should also record the brand, model and other distinguishing features of the instrument.

  • Enter the serial number at Tunevault.com, if you obtained it, to check if the instrument has been stolen in the past. Otherwise, this website also lists distinguishing features about each stolen instrument. People whose instruments are stolen often offer rewards for the safe return of their property.

  • Check the website Screamingstone.com to see if anyone in your area has reported a musical instrument stolen. If their description matches the description of your instrument, you may want to investigate the matter further with the dealer and the person that reported the instrument stolen. People that list their instruments on this website typically offer rewards for the return of their property.

  • Check with the dealer of the instrument should you discover that the musical instrument is stolen (whether or not you purchased it). The dealer from which you made the purchase will be able to find out who sold the instrument to them and further action can be taken. If your purchase was made from a private seller, you will need to contact your local police department to report the crime and take further action against the seller.

Tips & Warnings

  • Report stolen instruments as soon as possible to make it more likely that you will receive a refund.
  • If you buy a musical instrument, always register it with your school or through the dealership in case it is stolen from you.

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