Hello, readers! (I just love seeing my picture up there!)
I’m taking a break from bringing you a fun, random fact this week to talk about something a little more serious. In the past month or so, I’ve been hearing a lot of reports of theft during lives. It’s sad to think that this is becoming a more common problem, and that more foreign fans have also become victims. So gather ’round, and let’s talk about what you can do to protect yourself at lives, and what to do if someone steals from you.
It’s a pretty well-known common practice for fans to bring their purses, shopping bags, coats, and even small suitcases to lives! Generally, this is an acceptable practice as long as you’re not crowding up the place, but that’s another story. The problem is that for many bands’ sets it’s impossible to hold onto belongings or even keep them at your feet because of active movements in the crowd. As a result, many fans pile their things along the venue walls, some for just their favorite band’s set, and some for the entire live. In the past this was generally viewed as perfectly safe. Japan has much lower crime rates than overseas, and within the visual kei scene there’s usually a sense of camaraderie between fans. But it’s no longer safe to store things this way, as this is exactly what’s been opening fans up to theft lately.
More often than not, live house thieves are only after cash, and many reports of theft have stated that nothing else was missing from their belongings. In some cases if the thief is in a rush or lazy, entire wallets have been stolen — sometimes turning up later with only the cash missing, other times, gone forever.
What this tells me is that the people committing these crimes are probably only looking for quick cash, perhaps to shop their band’s merchandise booth at the live. But no one wants their credit card stolen either, right?
Here’s Ern’s list of ways to look out for yourself at lives!
- Look for theft warning signs. Some live houses have signs posted about theft. If they do, it almost always means that thefts have been reported to them in the past, and they’re giving you a heads up that it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for your live. Take extra care at these venues.
- Store unnecessary items in a locker or in coat check. Live houses usually have one or the other, but if they don’t you can also find lockers in stations, subway passages, and shopping centers!
- Use a shoulderbag or your pockets. Keep your most valuable-valuables on your person at all times by using a secure, sealable purse with a shoulder strap, or by keeping your things in your pockets. Just be careful during active sets, like moshing! (I personally prefer zipper pockets! Too bad they don’t make pants for hamsters…)
- Keep flat valuables (cash, credit cards, passport, etc.) in a money belt. Have you heard of these amazing little things? Money belts are flat fanny packs that travelers usually use to keep their things safe in dangerous or unfamiliar places. You wear them underneath your clothes and they’re usually undetectable! Even if anyone sees you pull up your shirt to fish out a few bills, they wouldn’t be able to get to your money without physically touching you (and it should be noted that pick-pocketing is really rare in Japan)!
- Exercise saizen privilege. If you manage to get into the front row, you can easily keep a bag in front of you during the set — but you probably won’t get to stay in the front row for the whole live. Some people in saizen don’t even bring their whole bag, but just put their wallet and cell phone safely in front of them, against or under the stage or rails.
- If all else fails, keep an eye on your bags during bands’ sets. It sounds like theft isn’t happening in between sets, but while bands are actually on stage. That is, while the audience is captivated and paying no attention to their bags along the walls. If you keep your bag in your line of vision — that is, in front of you along a wall, not to the side! — during a set, you’ll be more aware of any shady business.
And of course, I’m sure there are other tips that my hamster brain isn’t thinking of, so please share your own tips in the comments! It might just save a fellow fan’s wallet.
Reporting a Theft
It makes Big Ern sad to hear that a lot of foreigners who find they’ve been stolen from choose not to report the thefts. It might be because they’re afraid of speaking Japanese, that they don’t know how to communicate in Japanese, or that they’re in a hurry… or anything! There are a lot of reasons, but it’s really important to report thefts as thoroughly as possible so that there’s a chance of getting your belongings back, and so that live houses and bands can help protect other fans. They can’t solve a problem if they don’t know it exists!
Who to tell: Everyone! If you’re not confident about handling a problem on your own, tell a friend while you’re still at the live, even if it’s someone you only just got to know. The kindness of strangers goes a long way sometimes!
If you’re okay handling the situation yourself, go straight to venue staff and tell them exactly what was stolen. If you have a time frame (between band A and C) be sure to tell them that, too! Do this as soon as possible; if you wait until the live is over, you lower your chances of recovering what was taken.
Next, tell the band you went to see, and/or the band during whose set your things were stolen, if you know when it happened. If the band members themselves aren’t available, that’s fine. Tell the person at their merchandise booth instead.
If you don’t have a chance to talk to anyone at a live house when the incident happens, get online and e-mail the venue and the band staff as soon as possible. Remember to give them all the details you can!
So, why didn’t Ernie include reporting theft to the police? Well, you certainly can, but in the case that only cash was stolen from you there isn’t much that can be done. However, if important items like your credit card or passport were stolen, then you should definitely contact the police! Just be sure that you talk to the venue staff before the police — sometimes stolen items that aren’t wanted are ditched by the thief and are recoverable without extra trouble. And, the live house might contact the police themselves if the situation is a serious one. No need to make two calls to the police box!
A big, big caveat I’d like to add is that you should report any crime you witness, too! If you see someone digging through a bag that you know doesn’t belong to them, you might want to let the bag’s owner know. Sometimes it’s just their friend, but sometimes it’s a theft in the works. If it turns out to be the latter, you can help identify the thief and help a fan out!
I’ve witnessed a theft: Tounan wo mimashita.
~ was stolen from me: ~ ga nusumaremashita.
I witnessed a theft at XX live on XX date: (month)月(date)日の(band)のライブでは盗難を見ました。
~ was stolen from me at XX live on XX date: (month)月(date)日の(band)のライブでは(item)が盗まれました。
Between A and B bands: A no shutsuen to B no shutsuen no aida ni (band)の出演と(other band)の出演の間に
Cash: genkin 現金
Credit card: kurejitto kaado クレジットカード
Passport: pasupouto パスポート
Cell phone: keitai 携帯
Big Ern encourages you to practice safe live-going, and hopes you never have to deal with theft at a show! Rock on!