Prevent Theft and Loss

Safeguard marching equipment and personal property.

With equipment and instruments plus participants’ belongings potentially out in the open during rehearsals, football games, competitions, and other events, marching ensembles have a lot of exposure to possible theft and accidental loss. Keep items safe with a few extra precautions.

Access Control

Access controls will help prevent your organization’s assets from marching off! All doors, compartments, and other storage spaces should be locked. All trailers should be equipped with a coupler lock.

Consider locking containers with valuable equipment inside the trailer using separate locks. Spare keys should not be stored nearby unless in a secured key box. If combination locks are used, the combinations should only be shared as necessary and changed on a regular basis.

Members should also be encouraged to store backpacks, instrument cases, and other personal belongings.

Buses, trailers, and other storage locations should not be left unsecured and unattended. Access to these areas should be restricted to members and authorized personnel only. The organization should outline specific security procedures for vehicle operators, including personnel contracted by a third party. Before leaving any location, survey the area to ensure that all items are properly stowed and secured.

Inventory Management

Instruments, uniforms, field props, electronics, and other equipment are only a few examples of the inventory maintained by a marching group. The movement of these items from one performance to another poses a unique inventory management challenge. Just as a rookie will inevitably lose his or her left sock, an item may be lost or accidentally left behind. Consider developing checklists and other reminders to ensure that everything stays with the group.

Set aside time to confirm or update the inventory as each marching season comes to a close, especially if items are stacked and stowed for long periods of time. However, the more frequently that you do a full inventory count, the more likely that you will notice and locate missing items.

An inventory database should be maintained by the organization, and a label should be affixed to each item entered into the database. Permanent “Property Of” labels or engravings can prevent tampering and are more durable. As labels deteriorate over time, they should be replaced.

The database should include the following pieces of information:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Photo or Description
  • Date of Purchase
  • Storage Location
  • Assigned Member (Check-In/Check-Out Log)

The inventory database can be valuable anytime an item is lost, damaged, or stolen. If an item has been borrowed, leased, or rented by the organization, an overview of the agreement terms should be noted in the inventory database entry.

A detailed inventory can also assist with filing an insurance claim. Any suspicion of theft should be reported to law enforcement promptly. A report of stolen property may lead to a criminal investigation.

The prevention of loss, whether accidental or malicious, is a key safety consideration for any organization.

About the author

Justin Eberly

Justin Eberly is a volunteer firefighter and active emergency medical technician in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He presents emergency services educational and training programs locally and nationally. Eberly has played trumpet for 15 years, previously performing with Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) University. He also serves as a marching band instructor.