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Stolen Camera Gear: Are You Protecting Yourself?

Kimberly Gauthier from Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier

A-Group-of-Lenses-600x399.jpegThis has been the craziest week in my mad mad world, hence the adapted movie quote. One of the biggest things that we as photographers fear has happened to me. Our home was burglarized and the thieves nabbed my camera gear.

It was 7:50 in the morning when I got the call from our security service calmly telling me that someone had accessed our garage door and then a second door that leads to the home’s interior. Well, that’s not supposed to happen, “please dispatch the police,” I responded; it hadn’t hit me yet. I then called my boyfriend, a Detective with Snohomish County, to share the news. His response was a stretch of silence, then a loud “WHAT!!!!” I wasn’t sure if he needed me to repeat myself so I chose to remain quiet and he said, “I’m on my way.”

When I got the news that there was indeed a burglary, I asked if the animals were harmed (they were fine) and then I asked if they got my Kelly Moore. Yes, they did. DAMMIT! Here’s a short list of what those B$%*#^@ got:

  • Kelly Moore B-Hobo camera bag, green (with a handy cross body strap for easy thievery)
  • ?

  • Canon camera backpack (great for storing more stuff, like jewelry)
  • Sony Alpha 550 Camera Body
  • Sigma 50mm f/2.8 lens
  • Sigma 28-105mm f/2.8 lens
  • Sony 75-300mm zoom lens
  • 2 external hard drives
  • 5 memory cards
  • 2 camera batteries
  • Lens cleaning kit

DAMMIT!

I headed home to deal with the fall out, trying to think of everything that I needed to do (file a police report, file an insurance claim) and not think of the 2 years worth of images that were gone and the fact that I had just spent a Sunday taking pictures that I hadn’t downloaded yet.

DAMMIT!

When I pulled into our driveway, I was happy to see that Snohomish County turned out for the event and the thieves were caught, everything would be returned, I could now exhale. I experienced a slight twinge of disappointment (and guilt), because I had started soothing the sting of loosing thousands of images with the shopping spree I’d be on the following week at B&H Photo and Video.

Have you taken inventory?

In our area, 90% of people don’t get their things back. If the police do find a cache of stolen goods, they’re rarely returned to the owners, because memories fade. Are you certain that’s YOUR Nikon camera? That’s YOUR Canon lens? It’s a best guess sometimes.

Apparently taking your stolen goods to the local pawnshop is old school now; they sale everything on Craigslist.

I’ve taken pictures of everything, noting the serial numbers where possible as well as a detailed description.

Do you have insurance?

Home owners insurance will cover a home burglary, but when I was working to Go Pro, I learned that home owners insurance won’t cover camera gear and studio equipment if a business is being run out of your home. I’m an aspiring professional blogger, not photographer, but I’m insured. I sent a detailed list of everything to my insurance agent. She now also has pictures and serial numbers.

My insurance is less than $30 a month and bundled with my State Farm auto policy.

Are you backing up your work?

I was backing up my images to two external hard drives (yep, the two that were taken) and using the online back up service, Carbonite. Like most serious amateurs, I’m taking pictures all the time and the RAW images were devouring my computer’s memory so I moved everything to the two external hard drives.

We now have a safe (bolted to the floor) where the back ups are stored along with valuable items that I don’t use regularly (lenses, memory cards, extra batteries).

The safe may be over kill for some of you; a fellow photographer shared that he keeps one back up off site: you can store your external hard drive at a friend’s place, at your parent’s pad, or in a safety deposit box.

Having my camera gear stolen has been something that has been in the back of my mind since I purchased my first Sony DSLR camera. It was the excuse I used to invest in a Kelly Moore camera bag when I started to explore Street Photography – it looks like a purse, it’s inconspicuous. But I was never prepared to go through it in real life.

I’m certain that professional photographers have safeguards for such an event and amateur photographers can learn something, because our gear and work is valuable no matter what level we are as photographers. My partner is a cop and he created the necessary safeguards while I was off taking pictures of flowers; so we recovered quickly. Hopefully these few, simple tips, will help you.

Hopefully you’ll never experience a burglary but what steps do you take to protect your gear?

Kimberly Gauthier is an aspiring professional blogger and amateur photographer who blogs on Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier sharing what she learns about digital photographer with other amateur photographers.

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Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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