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Thursday, 16 June 2022


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In today’s world, I would be far more concerned about identity theft from the loss of passport and traveler’s checks. My insurance would cover full replacement value for the rest.

Nothing infuriates me more than stealing someone’s belongings whether from your car, home, etc. it’s really just evil to me. I had a work colleague that had his prize possession, a Leica M3 double stroke with lenses, stolen in a foreign country while on a long trip with his adult son. He handled it well but I’m sure he was heartbroken. I have heard of many camera gear thievery stories, makes me wary of traveling with expensive cameras and lenses. I realize there are more good humans than bad but I wish stealing from strangers was not a trait for those who do it.

No doubt you learned from a young age that being a photographer is a tough way to make a living.

I've never used a camera bag. By the time you get the camera out the shot has gotten out of Dodge.

I had assistants paid to watch gear at some on location jobs, but I still had a few items stolen. Always made me think it was the hired help behind it, and I do not mean mine.

I’ve had two separate incidents involving vehicles with camera gear being broken into. 1) At a shopping center, someone busted into the driver window, gained entry, and ripped out the OEM radio/cassette player (cheap). Made a mess of it too. But… they left behind my camera bag. Inside that was my Leica M6 with 35mm Summicron lens. 2) On the street in San Francisco, someone busted out all the windows on the passenger side of my Sienna, and stole my camera bag with Canon 5D Mk II and 24-105 L and 50mm f-1.4 lenses.

So I’m one for two. Insurance paid for damage repair and helped with replacing the Canon. But what a headache to deal with. Plus driving home from SF at night with all the windows on one side gone… not fun.

Your Dad should have put an Apple AirTag in the camera bag. Then he would know where it went. Oh, fifty years too early. But highly recommended today.

I once lost a camera bag full of gear while traveling when the lock on my locker was cut at a place where I was spending an afternoon. I was gutted, but what I was most upset about was that the bag contained six rolls of exposed film. Insurance meant I was able to replace everything - in some cases with better gear - but there was no getting back that film.

Years..., no, decades, ago in 1990, my shitty old VW Golf from ten years before that, was broken into one night in my hometown. It must have been a gentleman thief, because he (yes,statistics point to that) didn´t smash or break anything. Instead he carefully unlocked the door with a thin latch, slid along the window on the passenger side. The gentleman then carefully pryed my simplistic stereo from the dashboard, inspected it and put it under the passenger seat before closing the door and walking away. So, just a gentleman, not a thief.

Another time a year later: I stopped to fill up petrol and have a coffee in a shabby part of Amsterdam on my way home to Sweden from France. It was at about 4:am and at the table behind me there was a small group of loud young men who spoke with a mix of dutch and arabic, and somehow I got a feeling they were talking about me (dutch and swedish are not that far apart, language cousins, you might say). So I was already quite tense when I got up to walk back to my car, and one of the men put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to stop. No. Not like this, not me, I just want to get on home, I thought. F... But, no, he politely told me that I had left my camera, a Pentax K 1000, on the floor under my chair. And wished me a safe trip. He must have seen the near panic in my eyes, and I learned a lesson to trust my neighbour a little bit more. I offered to pay for his coffee but he declined.

The Leica Akademie book looks like one that deserves to be out of print and stay that way. It is a bit like Erwin's later books, which I have, when he had gone somewhat off piste from his excellent, earlier, informative work.

A friend of mine worked in a photo store for many years and always tells me the actual and sometimes amazing stories of customers who had to buy new cameras and lenses because they were robbed.
I got into the habit early on of really never leaving photographic equipment in the car, never thinking about whether I thought a parking lot was safe, because it's all nonsense.
Probably all of those who were stolen judged the parking lot to be relatively safe, because otherwise they wouldn't have left the equipment there.
The craziest story for me happened to a couple who are friends of mine during their vacation in France.
They were swimming in a lake, and both of them didn't take their eyes off their car for a second! and the car was parked in plain sight on the shore. Nevertheless, when they returned, everything of value had been stolen from the car, because the robbers had crept up from the opposite side of the car and broken it open.
I know the wildest stories from France and Italy, but "the crown of creation" probably lives everywhere.

Whilst visiting the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, I was told to leave my camera gear in their storage area. It was clear to the attendant, that I was uneasy about handing my gear over. He said, “There are works of art worth millions here”. The look on his face when I asked him if any of it was left in the bag room...

Just to clarify, “just for a weekend” is NOT over the top. You never know, you may run into one of the Turnleys. Or both - especially if you know which which bistro(s) to haunt at lunch time. FWIW, YMMV, YADDA.

A long time ago, a camera bag stuffed full of Hasselblad bodies, lenses, etc. was stolen out of my car. I filed a police report and made an insurance claim. The day the big check arrived, I got a call from the police saying my gear had been recovered.

The guy who taken the bag tried to sell the equipment at a camera shop, and the owner knew this guy didn't know what the heck he had. The owner tried to delay the guy while an employee called the cops, but the thief got worried and ran out without the gear.

I was almost sorry to get it back as I had planned to purchase somewhat different gear than I had lost.

I usually keep my beat-up old camera bad on the floor of a beat-up old Saturn, with a dirty jacket on top of the bag, and a large German Shepherd on the seat. I of course lock the car, so that no one steals the German Shepherd, seriously.

Is stealing these items lucrative? How much money can they possibly make? Who buys stolen cameras?

The only camera I've ever had stolen was my '70s
Boots Bierette vs
. It was in the girlfriend's car glove-box at the time! The car was recovered at the end of the road - joy-riders had driven it in circles until they ran out of fuel (the fuel line needed a good clean), but they kept the camera.

As for "Just for the weekend", when I worked for a London based airline, a lot of the staff used their staff-travel perk for (long) weekends away, all over Europe and so on - anywhere you could fly to in less than a day.

Heck, one chap I worked with went for an afternoon in Hong-Kong. He managed to get a seat on a Concorde charter, had his afternoon in Hong Kong and then got a late flight home. Granted the return flight took most of a day, but...

I once left a bag full of camera gear next to a one-armed bandit in a Las Vegas casino at 2:00 in the morning, and didn’t notice I had left it behind until an hour later. To my amazement, I was able to recover it from the casino’s security desk, where someone had dropped it off. The security guy said he wasn’t sure who should be more surprised; me or him.

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