Brett Costello, an Australian photographer for News Corp covering the Olympics last month, came face to face with every freelancer’s worst nightmare: he had his $40,000 worth of camera gear stolen in plain sight. Costello told authorities that he briefly turned away from his camera bag when a woman asked him for help in a local coffee shop. When he looked back his gear was gone.
This is a scary story most of us
wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, but there are steps you can take to
avoid becoming another hapless victim like Brett. Here are a few tips to
keep your gear safe while you work.
Proximity alarms alert you when an unexpected person comes within a certain distance of your gear and can even track it if it’s stolen. Motion alarms like Tool Guard easily fit in a backpack or camera case and can be turned on or off with a key-fob. While GPS-based alarms like the Dewalt MOBILELOCK are more expensive than motion sensor alarms, they’re also worth considering since they track the whereabouts of your gear and send you texts or phone call notifications if it’s on the move. Plus, it has an anti-theft alarm that sends a siren if tampered with.
While most manufacturers allow you to register your gear with them post-purchase, other registries like LensTag, Stolen Property, or Stolen Lost Found provide additional security by creating searchable public pages that link your identity to the serial number on your equipment.
Insuring your equipment is probably the most important thing you should do after making your purchase. One way to get health and gear insurance, along with other benefits, is to join a professional journalist or photographer organization like the Professional Photographers of America or the National Press Photographers Association. Insurance should provide you with coverage for damage or theft, whether you own the gear or are just renting it. It’s a smart move and worth the cost. If you choose not to join a professional organization, there are also companies that offer different policies based on your type of gear or travel plans.
If you do end up having gear stolen, make sure to file a police report because it’s usually necessary for claiming your insurance. Plus, the police can help you recover your gear if you’ve registered it or are using a tracker.