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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » When a child steals your props (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
744 Posts

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I was performing at a child's birthday recently where there was one particularly troublesome boy trying to disrupt my show (I think he had ADD). For the most part I ignored him which seemed to work okay during the show. After the show I was twisting up balloon animals for the 12 or so children when this child picked out one of my props. He knew I wanted it back and was egging me on to chase him around the garden to get it. I refused to play along and promised him a balloon animal if he would behave. A few minutes later he was politely waiting for a balloon animal. He got the last one before I left the party.
Anyway I get home I notice the particular prop he had taken is missing. It was the remote control for my audio system. Although I am pretty sure he has stolen it I can’t be 100% sure. Another child could have taken it. It could still be out in that garden somewhere. I called the parent that booked me and she is still trying to locate it for me.
My question is what would you guys do if the parents can not return the item? Would you happily shoulder the cost and accept responsibly for the lost item yourself? Would you ask for reimbursement of the item cost from the client or the parents of the child that stole the item? To what extent would you peruse a matter like this when a child steals a prop of value?
To put things in perspective the replacement cost of the remote control is about $200 and my fee for the show was $150.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
flourish dude
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I am not sure. But thats why all my case shut close with a clasp and If i am going to make balloons after I pack up the show and 1. take it to the car or 2. set it all up in the cornor

I had a show last weekend where I knew I was going to have kids looking in my cases. small room and lots of kids. At the end I packed up everything but the balloon box and took it to my car. No problems.. If you lock it all up and stack it in a cornor then it is very easy to see or hear them going thru you stuff. Go over and tell them to stop or tell the MOM/Dad that they need to have thier child leave your stuff alone and if they don't take it to the car then come back for balloons. You have to stand up for yourself here because no one else will. I think you might have a hard time getting money for the parents because is your word against thiers. You may have to call this one a 200.00 lesson.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Adam V
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Try your hardest to get back that money. Just because you're being hired to entertain them doesn't mean it's your fault if stuff gets stolen. Sure, you need to keep an eye out but you can't be everywhere.
Adam V - 9 out of 10 dentists recommend him.
Jewls
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Michigan-USA
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Andy,
Call the host or hostess, and ask if it was left behind he may have taken it from you and left it there rather then explain it to his parents.
If it isn't there tell the mother the value of the item and tell her who you saw with it last.
Ask her if she would like to call his mother or give you the number. Something like a remote they may not connect it with the magician.
The sooner the better!
Peter Marucci
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Tough call indeed.
The big problem, Andy, is that you say you're not 100 per cent sure that a specific kid took the item.
If you falsely accuse someone and try to get the money back from that child's parents, you run a very real risk of a lawsuit that you cannot win (the publicity alone would be professional suicide!). At best, you leave yourself open to the ill will of several sets of parents (everyone who was at the party as well as the host and hostess).
Yes, $200 is an expensive piece of property.
But, as flourish dude says, you may have to write this one off as a $200 lesson.
My advice (for what it's worth, which may not be much!):
Take the loss and forget about it. Just arrange things so that it can't happen again in the future.
Steven Steele
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Hesperia, California USA
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I close my case immediately too. I would call the hostess and describe the item and ask (if practical) to call each of the children's mothers and see if one of the children had inadvertantly taken it home. If that doesn't work...I would write the whole thing off and be more careful next time.

Steven
danryb
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I would phone and ask to come by when convenient to look around the garden explianing that it is a small but very expencive item you are looking for. It is possible they just picked up little bits of candy wrappers and didn't specifacly look or find what it is you lost. When you are there - if you don't find it in the garden - tell the mother that one of the kids took it from you whilst you were packing up and try to have the (x) b.day child assist you in getting the name of the "naghty" kid. That way you could easily get the telephone number and phone them directly from there. Be polite, introduce yourself and ask the parent on the phone if by any chance they came across the lost piece.
I wouldn't be shy in asking and wouldn't worry about law suites - just explain what happened if necceccary and I'm sure they will understand.
I hope you find your remote control and if and when you do - I hope it works!
flourish dude
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I was not saying not to try to find it. But what I find in most cases is "who my child oh no he would not have taken it.." more so if they know it costs 200.00 this would mean they paid you 350.00 for your show. unless they have money flowing from thier ears this is a chunk of change and they will fight paying it. but still it is worth looking into. I still would not demand money or sue more so if your not for sure he took it. Peter sumed it all up This is just 1 show and a law suit or the bad word could really cost you more than 200.00. I would indeed call them and ask. Offer a free magic set to the one who finds it!! just like the balloon and the child you spoke about. it sounds like things got a little out of control are you sure you did not miss place it while you where fussing with this child? Did you go through all your stuff you did say this was small after some of my shows my props are all over the place!
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Dennis Michael
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First, without proof, no one can be accused. You have to accept responsibility here for the loss of the control. This doesn't stop you from asking about it. Explain it as lost or fell off you case or something reasonable and hope it is returned.

An false accusation could cost you much more in future shows, and you may get a bad rap by the parents. I personally was witness a parent who physically attacked a store manger when he stop his son for stealing. The son did steal and was caught and the parent was notified. Now the parent is was also a child pyschologist. You would think he should have know how to act.

No one want to believe their child is a theft.

It's ironic you posted this Andy, Two day ago I did a show for scouts, and when my back was turned my reindeer nose was lifted but other kids saw it and told me. His excuse, "Oh I thought I could have it!"

One final thought here to the readers, a popular educational school show program now is "MANNERS", this problem Andy is facing... is that the kid does not have the proper manners when it comes to other peoples things.
Dennis Michael
magibrad
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Canada
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Wow...thats definetly tough to shoulder man. I haven't had this happen, so i'm not an expert at all. But, in personal experience all i've done is bought $5-$10 worth of candy, have the host/hostess hand it out at the end of my show in a tin bowl, and pack up (which i mostly do durning the show, by placing the props in the box when i'm done with it)

Then they hand out the candy, which is normally enough of a distraction to close your case, lock it and then do animal balloons in your case ( i dont do balloons so...i dunno) but otherwise ijust try and watch out for things like that.

Hope you get your remoter back!

Merry Christmas
-Brad
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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"When all around you are losing their . . . " (Rudyard Kipling?). An entertainer who loses his props to those around him needs to work out a tighter regime. I've never lost a prop. but have lost a secret or two by turning my back at the wrong time. To my eternal disgrace MY FAULT! Smile You can't go making parents or bookers responsible for any losses - imagine taking your car for service - "that'll be £150 for the job, and by the way I broke a torque wrench doing it - so £200 total" !!
Dynamike
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I know how it feels. A lot of times kids try to take control of my props.

For now on when you go out have the patron sign a written contract explaining how the patron is liable for children stealing/breaking the performer's props. That way the mother/father would be more concerned than you are.

I see two reasons not to sue them. #1, It's a good chance you'll lose because you did not noticed it was missing until after you left. #2, It can give you bad publicicy.

Put things away inside of a chest, box, etc. after you perform. Keep everything in the same area when things are put away. That way it will be easier to notice if something is missing.

Hire a helper for a low amount of money. They can put things away while you perform, and load your vehicle while your back is turned.

If a lot of kids come around your props after a show, say out loud "Who wanna play a game? Stand by the wall/tree" in an exciting way. If you tell them to back up or put it down, they'll want to challenge you more.

If you think someone has one of your props in their pocket, show them a quick trick by making a coin disappear (french drop). Tell them to check their pockets for the coin. When the pockets are emptied you will see if they have your prop or not. That will be better than saying, "Let me check your pockets, something of mine is missing."

Raise your price $10 for your next 20 shows. You can get your money back that way.

Get insurance too.

Happy Holidays Smile
eize
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forget about this,is nothing you can do.
Smile Smile Smile Smile
Greg Owen
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Andy -

Don't forget you can write the cost of replacing the remote off of your taxes.

You were already taking a writeoff (depreciating, most likely) for the equipment anyway I hope.

- Greg Owen
Author of The Alpha Stack ebook - the balanced memorized stack
gobeatty@yahoo.com
iwillfoolu
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Upstate NY, USA
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I personally don't use expensive props at kids shows. Also all of my magic fits in my pockets. The only things I have to carry are my boombox and my bag (schedule, keys, balloons, etc) I keep my bag zipped and try to not let anything out of my sight but despite my best efforts, I have "lost" a number of props. I used to lose balloon pumps, until I started tying them to my bag. Sponge balls seem to be popular, but I let 8 of them explode out of the hand of a child. Now, I make sure that I get eight back while I count like The Count from Sesame Street spongy little ball, two spongy little balls hahahahha). I actually raised my prices $25 recently to pay for any broken, lost or stolen props or equipment during kids shows. If I lose a few thing I can just suck it up(except the boombox). If a parents want to pay for something inexpensive a kids breaks I don't let them. If a kid threw my $70 boombox on the ground, however, I would do my best to get the offending child's parents to replace it, but pressing the issue would be bad for business. The motto of the story : Two eyes have difficulty tracking 30 hands. Protect your props and equipment.
Also I have heard different stories of parents, other performers, or people wandering backstage stealing entire cases with thousands worth of magic in them. Just putting a lock on a case is not going to stop the whole case from dissappearing. Remember theft is a crime of opportunity.

Joe
Magician and Balloon Twister
New York Magicians
Magician New York
TheAmbitiousCard
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Northern California
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Kids were always peering into my case and trying to grab stuff and ask questions about stuff and then .... I bought (off ebay) and old large doctor's bag.

You can't see inside it.
You can do funny business right under everyone's nose inside it right in a living room.
It looks interesting
It's mysterious
Nobody touches it.

If someone grabbed something from me that I cared about, I would get it immediately. If that meant chasing some kid around, I would do it and I guarantee that it would not take long for me to get it back.

I'm pretty firm about the kids following the rules during my shows and I will politely call them on it. By the end of the show, you probably know which kids to watch out for and which kids you don't have to worry about.

I don't think parents care if you're a wee bit firm. You're just helping them do the job that they should be doing in the first place.
www.theambitiouscard.com Hand Crafted Magic
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Chrystal
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I can imagine how you feel but I agree with the ones that said chalk it up to experience and accept the loss. It's a tough pill to swallow but no court in the land would allow you to get money from that mom. You didn't see him take it and you never know it could have been another child, so no proof. I would call and tell the mom about the missing item but wouldn't bring up the the subject that she is to be held responsible.The suggestion that you get a case that locks is good too. As soon as I finish my show...my case is locked. Yikes! I learned that lesson from one of my earlier shows when kids were pulling stuff out...always locked it immediately after that experience. No doubt, it's frustrating to lose an expensive piece of equipment like that! Smile Good luck I hope it turns up.
Vaclav
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Now Seattle. Before? Who knows.
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If you can prove that the kid took your prop charge them.
If not,you are out of luck.
At the end of every party I tell the kids to stand away from my props until I pack them all.And I make sure they do.
You have to be polite but firm.Also you can ask the parents to help you.
I do that all the time and never had a problem.
Vaclav

But on the other end.If you know the kid did it and can not prove it,just go back there and break his favorite toy and tell him the brutal fact that Santa Claus doesn't exist, the same apply to the Tooth fairy, the hamburger he had for lunch was the Easter bunny and you are the boogy man.
And that should do the trick.
Vaclav Smile
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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Without proof the kid took the prop your snookered. you could contact the parents and say you've lost it, and you think you might have left it at their house. That way your not accusing him. If he has took it and it's there they might not have told you incase you accuse him of stealing. By saying you've lost it gives you and them an out.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
TroyRoark
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Springfield IL
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Yaclav, you're a riot!

First, as you do your show, pack it up. A $29.00 footlocker is worth it's weight in gold.

Second, claim it on home owners insurance. It's a remote control, they don't know you were using it for business. Unless you tell them, and why would you do that? If you're too young for homeowner's insurance, mom and dad can do it.

BTW, Andy. I've read several of your posts. If you're as young as you look in your photo, you've got a very mature view of magic and it's philosophies. Keep up the good work!

Troy Roark
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