I’m currently living in Berlin, Germany. It’s a non violent place to live and I always feel safe. However, theft and petty crime is rampant. A few months ago our storage space in the cellar was robbed. Last year my wife’s bicycle was stolen from our courtyard. What about recording studios here in Berlin? Unfortunately, I hear about a new robbery every few weeks. In the Prenzlauer Berg studio building complex I am in Jazzanova and Tobi Neuman’s studios were hit. Just last week Richie Hawtin’s custom Xone DJ Mixer was stolen when the Minus office was broken into. In Kreuzberg my friend Rob Wolf recently opened a project studio in a newly renovated building and already there were two robberies reported.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a Berlin specific problem. In 1996 my studio was robbed in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. They stole almost everything including my underwear! The only things they didn’t take were my DAT tapes and my Electrocomp-101. Those were the two most valuable things I owned so I consider myself lucky. In the end it worked out for me because it forced me to move into Manhattan were I was much happier.
So what can you do? Nothing can stop thieves if they really want to get in but you can do a lot to deter them. Here are some ideas.
Secure your door. Make sure your door is metal or have an aluminum plate added to weak wood doors. Have at least two strong locks with key hole tampering shields. Have a deadbolt going into vertically into the floor 3-4 inches. Have a peep hole put into the door so you can see who wants to enter if you get a knock. Don’t have your studio or artist name on your door unless you have to.
Secure your building’s door. If you rent a studio in a commercial building talk with the landlord about securing the entrance doors. Put signs up asking people to close and lock the doors at all times. Put signs up stating trespassers will be prosecuted.
Get some Radio Shack timers for your lights. When your away at a gig have the lights set to turn on and off.
Get an alarm system. Get one which monitors your doors, windows and has a motion detector. Have a 24 hour surveillance camera aimed at your entrance door. Learn how to set off the silent alarm and panic alarm. Get stickers from the alarm company and put them on all your doors and windows.
Get a guard dog. Pitbulls and Dobermans are the best choices but any dog with a loud bark will do. Put a “Beware of Dog” sign up.
Talk to your neighbors. Trade cell (mobile) numbers. If your the only person who has keys and can enter your studio let them know. Tell them if they see anyone else going in or out to call the cops.
Be ready to fight. I find a Police Flashlight and Leatherman handy in the studio for many things including “defending” yourself.
Have the Police on speed dial. In Germany you dial 110. It’s also a good idea to get your local precinct’s number.
Be insured. If all else fails and they do enter and take your things if you have insurance at least you can recover. I pay 350 euros a year for 30,000 euros worth of coverage. My coverage is also for fire, flood and electrical surges. I’m also covered when I travel with equipment and I am covered if a client decides to rob me once inside my room. I do not recommend Musicproinsurance.com. When I used them they never answered my emails or returned my phone calls.
Record your equipment’s serial numbers. You will need to do this for your insurance anyway. Keep a copy of these numbers outside your studio. While your at it take some good photos of your studio.
Do you have any other ideas? Has your studio ever been robbed?