French site stops instrument thieves with embedded chip

French site stops instrument thieves with embedded chip


norman lebrecht

January 12, 2017

Anipo is a group of musicians who are working on a stop-thief implant that can be placed in all instruments.

It’s early days yet, but you can read the plans here (in French).

By containing the history of the instrument, the bow or the baton, the device will also help you avoid difficulties atb border control with, for instance, new ivory rules.


  • Chris Walsh says:

    The page offers an English translation.

    The instructions on installing the chip make it clear that it should be installed somewhere not easily accessible (so that thieves can’t spot and remove it), but sufficiently accessible that you can scan the chip with a mobile device. They also point out that it should be installed in a place that won’t affect the natural resonances of the instrument.

    I’m having a problem determining exactly where you could install this chip to meet all these requirements. I’m really having a problem seeing where you could install it in a valuable string instrument.

  • Robert Roy says:

    How about storing the device under the tailpiece? Contemporary makers could incorporate a device into their instruments.

    It’s a good idea.

  • Maria says:

    Not quite the same, but SmartWater is a cheap and easy option.

  • Myrtar says:

    Sorry, but it’s far from being useful yet. As long as no one scans the chip (for iPhone users you even have to buy an external device to scan it AND you must use Anipo’s software), the instrument won’t be traceable at all.
    This won’t stop the common reports we see here of instruments “gone missing” in trains.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Probably not wildly different from the chips they put in pets’ ears.

    The biggest impediment to this working is that it will likely never become widespread enough of a practice for every dealer and pawnshop and school and police department and customs office to decide it’s worth scanning every instrument for the possibility of finding a chip.

  • Scott Fields says:

    Other companies also offer this technology. But it’s a Catch 22 strategy. If hardly anyone knows to scan for the chips, hardly any lost or stolen instruments will be identified. But if the technology become commonplace, criminals will learn how to scan for and remove the chips.

    • Myrtar says:

      Why would a thief buy a scanner device to scan the chip in a stolen instrument?

      • Scott Fields says:

        They would scan to find the chip so that they could remove it.

        • Myrtar says:

          1. You don’t need to scan it to find it, it’s a musical instrument, not a warehouse, wherever you put it’s not that hard for it to be seen.

          2. It’s better not to scan anything because the chip is useless, it doesn’t have GPS so it isn’t communicating anything. As it stands, an instrument with and without the chip only has 1 difference: it’s 10 grams heavier.

          • Scott Fields says:

            The whole idea is to hide it so that it’s hard to find. See

          • Anon says:

            @Myrtar – if you steal an instrument, let’s assume you mean to sell it on. If there’s a likelihood of a chip in there which would identify the legitimate owner and provenance (as Scott says “if the technology becomes commonplace…”) then as a thief or a fence, you’d want to remove said chip. Rather than hunting all over every instrument that comes into your possession, easier to scan for the /presence/ of a chip and then search and remove if one is found.

            But as suggested up-thread, not likely to become sufficiently common practice to install a chip to make this necessary for thieves.
            Could still be useful – for Customs, etc., though, perhaps. I remember people thought they were useless for pets years back, but now fairly commonplace.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    A better idea that wouldn’t require modifying the instrument and that the thief could not remove… something like finger print or retina recognition but for the grain pattern on the instrument. Those are distinctive and unique.

    Point a camera at it, send the pic to the cloud and the cloud tells you if the instrument is wanted.