Facebook Pixel Lenstag: a World Without Camera Theft - Digital Photography School

Lenstag: a World Without Camera Theft

Lenstag is a recently-launched, free online service for iOS, Android, and the web that records the serial numbers of your lenses, cameras, flashes, laptops and anything else in a secure, private registry before they are stolen.

If one or more of your items disappear, you can immediately flag the missing items as stolen which creates a public web page, quickly indexed by search engines. The serial number is then discoverable by a single Google search (example: ‘75165 lenstag’) or by checking the Lenstag apps. Thanks to Lenstag’s growing relationships with the pawn shop industry and law enforcement, the exchange of money for that stolen item becomes much more difficult akin to trying to sell a stolen vehicle. The idea behind this service is that if everyone gets into the habit of checking serials numbers online before purchasing used equipment, it will become harder and harder over time to peddle hot items and thieves will get arrested when they try to pawn them. Think of it like a DMV for camera equipment.  The more people who register their gear, the more effective the registry system becomes.

By locking down a particular serial as belonging to you, the reselling and pawning of that stolen item becomes discouraged. Serials on Lenstag marked as stolen are indexed online.

By locking down a particular serial number as belonging to you, the reselling and pawning of that stolen item becomes discouraged. Serial #s on Lenstag, marked as stolen, are indexed online.

There is currently no foolproof way to prevent potentially having all of your gear stolen, even if your equipment never leaves your home. Insurance can protect you financially, but you permanently lose your original items and any images or video stored on them. There is no guarantee Lenstag can get your original items back either, but with Lenstag there is a chance that only increases with time.

The more serials that get checked prior to purchase on the used market, the safer everyone’s gear becomes.

The more serial numbers that get checked prior to purchase on the used market, the safer everyone’s gear becomes.

With Lenstag, you have a centrally-located place to store all of your serial numbers. They can be easily transferred to another Lenstag user if you decide to sell your gear. Your serial logs are date marked. This is handy if you ever need, for whatever reason, to prove that you have owned a certain piece of gear for at least as long as it has been registered. You can make your gear lists public as well. This is handy for showing clients what you own or for resource planning with collaborators.

Transfer serials, share gear lists with others, or prove what you own via an clear-cut dashboard.

Transfer serials, share gear lists with others, or prove what you own via an clear-cut dashboard.

You should use Lenstag if?

  • You don’t have any insurance. This service is free and is better than having absolutely no protection at all.
  • You already have insurance but want just a little extra peace of mind.
  • You collaborate with other photographers a lot or work with clients who need to know what equipment you are using.
  • You, for whatever reason, need to prove you own something without having to carry around a bunch of receipts or registration cards.
  • You buy a lot of used gear. You don’t have to be a Lenstag user to check a serial # but having the app on-hand for checking makes the process very easy. You can also use Lenstag’s text-to-check feature by texting the serial number in question to +1-415-749-9808. This works regardless of whether or not you’re registered on Lenstag.
Text to check a serial in question, regardless of whether or not you are registered on Lenstag.

Text to check a serial in question, regardless of whether or not you are registered on Lenstag.

Lenstag is used by all three of the major rental houses in the United States: BorrowLenses.com, LensRentals.com, and LensProToGo.com. It is currently being used in over 150 countries worldwide. Uploading an image of your item is quick and helps discourage theft one indexed serial at a time. Be sure your serial # is visible on your item when taking its picture for inclusion in your personal registry.

Not every number on your lens is a serial. Be sure you are reading the right thing.

Not every number on your lens is a serial. Be sure you are reading the right thing.

Want to know how gear gets stolen the most? The results may surprise you. Lenstag took the stats of its reported serials to learn the most common ways gear got stolen in 2013, along with the most commonly stolen models.

Don’t leave it behind! You’re most likely to have items taken from your car.

Don’t leave it behind! You’re most likely to have items taken from your car.

How to use & find Lenstag
Lenstag can be download for iOS and Android. You can also use their service via their desktop site.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Jim Goldstein

Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px