Why Cameras Are Easier to Steal

Why Cameras Are Easier to Steal and What You Can Do About It

Digital cameras that had been stolen were once more quickly located thanks to the serial numbers that were embedded in the metadata. It could be searched for as soon as a photo taken by it was uploaded to the internet. In order to find cameras, the Stolen Camera Finder website was useful. But circumstances have changed. My older camera’s serial number was entered into the database, but despite being used to upload hundreds of photos to various websites, the database couldn’t locate any mention of the camera. I then entered the number into a number of search engines, including Google. The search results for my camera are no longer what they once were.

Sadly, by the time I finished writing this, I had not heard back from the Stolen Camera Finder owner.

It’s possible that privacy and security concerns led to the removal of serial numbers from search results because they can be used to track people. It might also be the case that the majority of search engines are biased toward generating revenue rather than useful information. It doesn’t matter why; this modification makes it much simpler to sell stolen cameras. They become a bigger target for theft as a result of that.

Of course, the majority of people these days upload their photos to social media. Typically, those services remove the serial numbers and other metadata from the images, making it more difficult to prove who owns the photos and raising the possibility of photo theft. Additionally, it makes it more difficult to locate the camera that took the photos.

The ability of large, reputable secondhand retailers to check ownership once allowed one to be certain that the cameras they sold were not stolen. They would look for the serial number, locate images taken with that camera, and if the seller and the photographer were not the same, red flags would appear.

I tried to discuss this issue of the serial numbers no longer being searchable with two of the big companies specializing in used photography equipment, but neither came back with a reply. You can make of that what you will.

Lenstag to the Rescue

Nevertheless, there is good news. Your camera can be registered with a great, free database run by Lenstag. The serial numbers of some stolen equipment are present in the database. It is not conclusive, but if you are purchasing a used camera, it is worthwhile to check to see if the lens is marked as stolen. I highly recommend registering your camera and lenses as it will help fight against criminals, support the legitimate businesses who refer to the database, plus help protect other photographers.

I spoke by email with Trevor Sehrer at Lenstag:

The main objective of Lenstag is to make stolen equipment unattractive to buy and thus impossible to steal, thus eliminating the ability of thieves to sell it… It reminds me of copyright for equipment. Photographers are less likely to purchase a used item that is stolen, as doing so will make it more difficult for them to resell it in the future. Additionally, it has occasionally happened that photographers who unknowingly purchased stolen equipment without first checking Lenstag had that equipment seized by police and then returned to its rightful owner, sometimes even across state lines. This makes me doubt that anyone would ever take the chance of purchasing stolen goods.

Like the DMV does with VIN numbers for car titles, a significant component of how Lenstag operates is visually verifying each and every serial number. About 20% of all serial numbers sent to Lenstag are mistyped or some other number that isn’t the actual serial number on the item, according to my own verifications. I correct it if I can or reject the verification request and send it back to the user with some notes on what to fix. All other registries, such as Nikon, Canon, Sony, Leica, etc., that don’t do this have inaccurate data and are, at best, unreliable. At worst, a photographer might mistakenly report a stolen lens with a mistyped serial number to, say, Canon Professional Services, then send the lens that actually has the mistyped serial number to Canon for repair and lose their lens.

Some unintentional victims continue to lose used cameras they have purchased due to police confiscation after they were reported as stolen. That loss could have been prevented if they had first checked the serial number.

Some photographers label the cameras on their equipment with security IDs. These hard-to-remove tags act as a deterrent and make the return of stolen property more likely. In contrast, if the photographer values resale value, they might have an impact on it.

How Cameras Mostly Get Stolen

Most camera thefts are opportunistic crimes. Therefore, taking simple precautions like not leaving it in plain view in a car, keeping it on you in public spaces, and using a reinforced strap that cannot be cut lowers your risk of having a camera stolen. This kind of robbery may be avoided with the Sun-Sniper Strap Pro. In some regions of the world, it is common for thieves to approach you from behind, slash the strap with a knife, and then flee with your camera.

Avoiding Robbery When Travelling

It can be terrifying to be robbed or have your belongings stolen. I was in the Maasai Market in Nairobi, Kenya, many years ago. The term “Nairobbery” was then used by my neighborhood friends. A lot of people were gathered around a young boy when I heard a disturbance. While the police stood by, they were kicking and beating him. The locals turned on the boy after he had snatched a handbag from a tourist, who had shouted, “Thief!” He was eventually dragged by the police and thrown into the back of a caged truck. The victim, a woman, was sobbing. She shouted about the theft while carrying the equivalent of $30 in her bag, possibly resulting in the death of an innocent child who was starving. The bright white bag would have been an obvious target.

Thieves are less likely to notice camera bodies that are smaller. Therefore, rather than taking that full-frame monster on your travels, think about something smaller. Micro Four Thirds cameras today produce outstanding image quality thanks to advances in sensor and lens technology. Additionally, their footprint is considerably smaller. They are more practical in addition to being more discrete.

Cameras are more discrete when carried with a side sling as opposed to a neck strap. On the straps, I take off the brand labels. Robbers can quickly identify camera bags. It’s one of the reasons I won’t use one, in addition to wanting to carry the least amount of gear possible. A simple discrete backpack with built-in security features such as a slash-proof lining will protect your camera and other valuables.

Precautions to Prevent Robbery

Always try to avoid problems. In my hometown, I happily take my camera outside at night. However, there are locations nearby where I wouldn’t take that risk by myself. I go with a friend as a result.

Plan your route, choosing thoroughfares and trails that are well-traveled and have CCTV coverage. Try to keep valuables out of sight because thieves are drawn to items like cameras, wallets, and cell phones. If you are out with your camera, walk confidently and with purpose, as you are less likely to be targeted. Be mindful of your surroundings.

Never put your camera or other valuables on a café table. Use licensed taxis that have been booked by phone or through an app.

What to Do If You Are Being Robbed

Photographers are frequently robbed, according to Fstoppers. It’s important to visualize what you would do in any emergency, as it prevents panic; it is why workplaces have fire drills. Knowing what to do if you are robbed reduces the risk of you being hurt.

Don’t try to protect your belongings if someone tries to rob you. Simply a camera, hopefully insured. Your safety is paramount. The robber’s adrenaline levels will be through the roof, and they will be as nervous as you. Follow their instructions, remain calm, and move slowly and steadily. Giving them only what they ask for while explaining your actions (e.g., “This strap’s clip will be released so I can give it to you.”

The robbers and you both have a stake in the experience ending quickly. So, follow their instructions to the letter, and don’t offer anything extra or help. Give them $20 if they ask for it rather than $50. Do not give them your wallet if they ask to borrow your camera. Since nobody’s life is worth risking for your camera, all police departments advise against using a weapon during a confrontation. If they have a gun, you should assume it is loaded.

Also Read: Are There Cameras in Movie Theaters?

Source: fstoppers

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