If your instrument is stolen

Most instruments are thefts of opportunity by small-time crooks hoping to sell quickly. Rapid and decisive action on your part can help you recover your instrument.

Protect your instrument by never letting it out of your hands when you are in public. Never leave an instrument unattended in an automobile. Our members have stories of brazen thefts in crowded public places in the middle of the day, unloading a car, leaving a hotel, or sitting in a café watching the car from a few feet away. Criminals practice their technique just like musicians and they get very good at their métier.

The Entente does not maintain a database of stolen instruments, nor are we able to send emails to our members regarding stolen instruments. There are other institutions who can take these steps more effectively than us.

If your instrument is stolen, we recommend the following:

  • As soon as possible, make a printable document with the details of where, when, and how your property disappeared. Include full descriptions of the missing items. This will be useful for the police to understand the value of the items.
  • Contact the local police to report the theft. Assert the importance of the crime. The average police officer knows cars and jewelry but will have no idea of the value of fine instruments.
  • Ask if they have a special local or national bureau for art theft and ask to speak directly to them.
  • As soon as possible, post this document all over the area where the theft occurred. Offer a reward for the return of the instrument, “No questions asked.” Check with your insurance company if they will reimburse you for a reward.
  • Look up all the violin, music, pawn shops in the area where the theft occurred and contact them with the description and information and photographs.
  • Call the shop where you purchased the instrument and request their help.
  • Use the Entente members list to contact our local members and ask them how to contact any local violin and bow maker organizations. This will allow you to reach many shops that are not members of the Entente.
  • Prepare an email and attach the document describing the theft and ask that the email be forwarded. The email subject should describe the theft (eg Amati violin, Pecatte bow STOLEN.) This helps search an email archive should a suspicious instrument be encountered even years afterwards.
  • Contact your insurance company and report the theft.
  • Search “Stolen Instrument Registry” online, checking in several languages in the most likely places your instrument might travel.
  • Contact some of the numerous national and international governmental and for-profit organizations that specialize in stolen art. Here is a partial list:
    • German Lost Art Foundation (BRD),
    • Art Recovery International (UK),
    • Art Loss Register (UK).
    • FBI—National Stolen Art File (NSAF)
    • Interpol—Stolen Works of Art
    • Cozio/Tarisio Stolen Instrument Register
    • Maestronet’s Searchable Online Listing of Stolen Instruments
    • Lost Art Internet Database
    • Violin Society of America
    • The Strad Magazine
    • Strings Magazine
  • Contact auction houses           
    • Amati
    • Bongartz
    • Bonhams
    • Christie’s
    • Dorotheum
    • eBay
    • Freeman’s
    • Kestenbaum
    • Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers
    • Sotheby’s
    • Tarisio
  • Contact appropriate national groups

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the EILA of any of the products, services or opinions of the organization or individuals. The EILA bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site, or for that of subsequent links. Please contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.