A reminder about protecting your gear.

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This past Saturday I had gone out early to use my 4x5 gear to do some images of some buildings sceduled for demolition in my area. After returning I removed my 4x5 case with two cameras and usual gear as well as my 35mm Nikon gear in its bag. I left the objects sitting behind my car but in my open garage. I live in a very nice neighborhood, but when I went out 30 min later the gear was gone.

Miraculously, the police called me Wednesday morning to tell me the gear had been recovered at a pawnshop and identified becasue of hard to remove name and address labeling on case, bag and cameras. Upon inspection the gear was not damaged, the perp desperate for cash traded $4000 worth of equipment for 50$.

Because the items were labeled, the police are able to match my theft with the person at the pawnshop and will be able prosecute if the thief is apprehended.

Moral: It doesn't matter if you are out of site of you gear in a supposed safe location for even a few minutes, someone will probably see it as a soft target of opportunity. I just want to present this recent experience as a reminder to maintain constant vigillence. I hope no one else here experiences the awful feeling that gear you had accumulated over the years is suddenly gone.

-- James Chinn (JChinn2@dellepro.com), May 30, 2002


Been there and done that, although my equipment was never recovered. (worked out well because I have much better equipment now; never would have upgraded otherwise).

I now not only keep the vehicle locked, but I have a chain anchored to a seat support. Each case is locked to the chain as soon as I put it in the van. A little bit of extra work, but well worth the effort.

Glad you got your stuff back.


-- David Carper (david.carper@ilford.com), May 30, 2002.

I remember some years ago seeing an advertisement for an impact punch that would put a tiny identifying mark on your valuables. I think the mark was customizable. It was meant to put anti-theft markings on things you didn't want to engrave by hand, etc. I have yet to find it again. If anyone has info on this, please post it as I think many would appreciate it (well, I would anyway).

-- Matthew Cordery (cordery@sonic.net), May 30, 2002.

You can call your local police dept. They have a program to deter thief and info regarding the tools...

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), May 30, 2002.

Somethings to consider,....theives work in teams, they almost invariably 'case' a neighborhood for a period of time, before there is an attempt to hit your house.

These folks look like anybody else, they can be door to door salesman knocking on your door on the pretext of selling something, but really trying to find out when you are home, gardeners, cleaning crews, posting ad on your door, anybody.

They attempt to get an idea of your schedule, who is in your house, and what's in it. Unless you were hit by somebody who's on drugs(the most desparate and will hit a place on the spur of the moment), then somebody in your neighborhood is going to be hit again, you are going to have to be on the lookout since now they know you have things of value, you're not out of the woods.

You and your neighbors are going to have to be on the lookout, thieves don't go to the neighborhoods where there is nothing to steal, they go to nice neighborhoods, and it's been that way ever since the invention of the car.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), May 30, 2002.

What kind of labels did you use? I like the lock and chain idea too. -Tony

-- Tony Karnezis (karnezis@aecom.yu.edu), May 30, 2002.

I do It differently, I carry my stuff in haliburton cases and I have added a "u" bolt next to the handle . I then have a simple but strong combination lock that attaches securely in my car and in my home. Yea I know that all locks can be defeated but it does deter a smash and grab theft. If you have anything valuable then keep it in a locked hard case and secure the case from theft. The marks a cute but the real truth is that under 10 % of the stolen stuff is recovered.

-- ed (zeke@idirect.com), May 30, 2002.

You do the best you can, but professional thieves and career criminals can and will defeat any lock, any case.

Anything you come up with, there is somebody somewhere figuring how to take it, best thing you can do is have paid up insurance for replacement value of the gear, and thank God every day that you are not in your house when somebody desperate breaks in, the gear can be replaced.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), May 30, 2002.

To answer the question on labels, they were made 15 years ago by a local sign shop from material used for clear decals. The only way to remove them after they have "cured" for awhile is to literally chip them away. I don't know if that is a property of the decal or 15 years of aging and sunlight.

-- James Chinn (JChinn2@dellepro.com), May 30, 2002.

A word of caution. Most insurance companies will not pay for theft loss if forced entry cannot be shown. For example, Art Wolf left all of his Nikon gear in his car while he had dinner in some diner. When he returned everything had been stolen. He was unable to collect on his lose because he forgot to lock his car and there was no signs of forced entry. He now owns all Canon stuff now, but at his own expense.

My insurance very clearly states that forced entry must visible before any claims will be honored.

So beware! Insurance companies will take your premiums, but they may not pay your claims.

-- Stephen Willard (willard@peakpeak.com), May 31, 2002.

I always throw an old blanket or a big towel on my gear if they are not in the trunk...it shade temptation and sun light... also keep a record of all serial numbers....

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), May 31, 2002.

I have a neighbor who is a retired cop. He said that most theives are in and out in less than half an hour. In other words, they don't spend a lot of time on the actual crime, especially on residential areas.

One thing I try to do is make sure my gear is well hidden. If they can't find it, they can't steal it. Of course, sometimes it's hidden so well I can't even find it. Having all the gear readily visable, neatly packed and ready to go makes it easier for theives. I'm trying to make some storage places with false fronts, hidden comparments, etc. I remember a Shaft movie (or was it Dirty Harry?) where he keeps a piece in the freezer.

A gun safe may be a good idea too. Garage storage, with the gear buried under a mountain of low value junk, which we all probably have, is another option. Who keeps valuables in the garage under a pile of old newspapers and garden tools?

Just my take ...

-- Hyperfocal (hyperfocal@attbi.com), May 31, 2002.

My gear is protected against all theft but not accidental damage. Does anyone have insurance against that? I am a lot more worried about the tripod and camera falling over and smashing than about theft (since it's insured & replaceable). I was just shooting in windy West Texas, had the tripod set up in the street, and it blew over and the head hit the asphalt hard. Sturdy Bromwell, didn't break! But what if the Arca had been on there??? Less likely to blow over with the camera, but not impossible, plus I am sometimes clumsy.

Ideas? (I do put out orange traffic cones so at least a truck won't knock it over.)

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), May 31, 2002.


You can insure just about anything for any occurance for a price. I always get a supplemental theft and damage rider for personal property if I travel overseas. I had to provide the insurance company with serial numbers, photographs of all gear appraisal of value and attest to the effect that I do not derive my sole income from the use of the gear. Professionals would have coverage as part of the business policy.

Insurance companies being what they are (they exist to make a profit), you would probably collect on one claim and after that the premiums would skyrocket or you would be discontinued as being considered "high risk". My experience over the years with insurance companies is they will find various ways to minimize any payout to you and use any payout as a justification to raise your premiums.

-- James Chinn (JChinn2@dellepro.com), May 31, 2002.

For home storage a large, heavy (800+ lbs) gun safe is the way to go, for cameras and other things. They cost about the same as a good lens, well worth the cost. For in a car a simple solution is a hard (pelican) case locked with a chain around the spare tire in the trunk, or seat support in the cabin of a car. I have an SUV from which I've removed the rear seats - leaves quite a few mounting holes (seat supports, seat belts) to which I can bolt security boxes.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), June 01, 2002.

I have tried one more time.

-- Snowy Smith (snowy1s@yahoo.com), June 09, 2002.

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