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In May of last year, while touring through Houston, the McKinney-based country musician Zane Williams was ripped off big time.

In May of last year, while touring through Houston, the McKinney-based country musician Zane Williams was ripped off big time.

At around 1 p.m. that day, Williams and his band pulled into a Mexican restaurant on I-45 for some lunch. When they came back out roughly 45 minutes later, their van and trailer were gone.

"In the back bench is a fiddle," sang Williams in a good-natured plea to the thieves last summer. "It's a 100 years old and one-of-a-kind. And impossible to replace."

Though he may never get that fiddle back, Williams' tireless efforts to locate its whereabouts recently hae helped ensure that his fate is one that no other musician touring through Houston will have to endure. See, while working on Williams' case, Houston police were able to arrest 130 suspects in an alleged music gear theft ring.

While Williams tells us that his 100-year-old fiddle and everything else that he and his band had kept inside their van has yet to be recovered, his loss isn't for naught. Because of an anti-theft device he had installed on the van, he was able to lead authorities to the suspects, giving the cops their first leads in taking down the entire operation.

"I had a Dewalt Mobilelock in the trailer," Williams says. "It gave us the location of the trailer, but by the time police arrived the thieves had already left in our van. There was other stolen merchandise from other thefts at the location where the trailer was found. By investigating the people who lived there, the police got some suspect names. They investigated those people, which lead to more people, which lead to more people."

Williams' band was far from the only one effected by that Houston ring. Things have gotten so bad in that city, in fact, that some had started earlier this year calling it the Stolen Music Capital of the World.

"[The criminals] called it 'shopping,'" Lt. Mike Osina told Saving Country Music earlier this week. "They would drive around, all over the greater Houston area, and look for a vehicle with a trailer on it. They would sit on it and see if anybody was going to come to it. If somebody was going inside to eat, they would steal it. They didn't care about the vehicles, they wanted to contents of the trailer."

Thanks to Williams and the Houston police department, though, there should be a lot less "shopping" going on in the coming weeks, potentially making the city a safer destination for the musicians that had recently threatened to stop playing in the city.

For his part, though, Williams never did stop playing Houston, although he says he did further step up his anti-theft efforts after the incident.

"I hope Houston is safer now, and I'm certainly glad that those responsible are facing punishment," Williams says. "We still play Houston all the time, but with a boot on the trailer and GPS trackers in both the van and trailer."

Still, the problem of having one's gear stolen while on tour isn't limited to Houston. Mike & the Moonpies had a van and trailer stolen from the parking lot of a Dallas La Quinta in 2014, and last year the Mike Ryan Band had their van and trailer stolen in Fort Worth. Sadly, these are but a few of the many bands that this type of thing happened in North Texas in recent years.

While it's a bummer when it happens, says Williams, it doesn't mean bands have to be sitting ducks while on tour. There are lots of ways, he says, to protect your gear while on the road.

"It seems like more a matter of 'when' than 'if' your stuff will be stolen, so you just have to be prepared," Williams says. "It only takes a couple minutes for a pro to break in, hotwire your vehicle and drive off. They'll do it just to have your stuff, and dump the vehicle later. They tend to target trailers because they know we have valuable items inside. We put a boot on the trailer if we're away from it for longer than an hour or two. We have a tracking device hidden inside if that fails. [This] is what we use. We have insurance if that fails. Fight back and don't let these bad people have their way with your stuff."

Thankfully, for bands everywhere, Zane Williams is a man that fights back. And speaking for musicians everywhere, we're sure glad he is. It'll help more than a few road warriors sleep a little easier tonight.

SOURCE https://www.centraltrack.com/busted/

 

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