Fear of camera theft

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by briloop, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    I'm going on vacation to Quito, Ecuador sometime in the next several months. Quito has a reputation for petty thievery. Just wondering if anyone has advice on preventing any unfortunate situations, like having my backpack pulled off my shoulder by a thief. Should I avoid using a backpack, and keep my camera in a coat pocket?
  2. stingx

    stingx Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 10, 2012
    Weird, NJ
    Real Name:
    Hugh Douche
    If you're going to worry about theft don't ever take your camera out of your home.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Buy insurance, act wisely. And remember its just stuff - not worth injury or death. Keep your memory cards somewhere safe and not with the camera. Their contents are the only thing that can't be easily replaced.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The better looking your camera the higher the chance of it being stolen. If you have it on a strap around your neck it is much harder for a thief to just grab.
  5. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    Real Name:
    And always take great care even when you're tired or in a mess. I left mine from my shoulder in a cab in Sri Lanka after a long flight and not until next morning have I discovered it was gone, it was nobody else's fault though. But lucky I had downloaded all the images from the card once each day, which I think is the one thing everyone should do.

    Sent from my M040 using Tapatalk 2
    • Like Like x 1
  6. iGonzoid

    iGonzoid Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 6, 2011
    Tasmania, Australia
    My 5c worth as an old journo who used to walk the streets of Johannesburg 40 years ago: If you are right-handed, hang the camera on a strap of convenient length over your left should and wear a jacket that covers the camera completely by several inches. Hands in pockets you can keep the jacket covering the camera without it being visible. Also you can feel the camera is still with you. When needed, right hand reaches into jacket pulls camera to eye, while switching on by feel. Have the focus preset, or a fast AF lens; if possible use preset aperture preferred for likely lighting — say f5.6 in daylight shadows. Pull camera out, frame, shoot, return camera under jacket immediately. If weather is inclement, just do up the jacket, camera is protected from rain or showers.
    You can be very inconspicuous like this. If you take a camera out of a pocket or bag, fiddle with exposure, focus etc, you are highly visible to all potential muggers or thieves. Camera strap around the neck can be pulled off over your head — or, worse, used to choke you before strap is cut with knife for easy removal. Camera strap over shoulder and under jacket can't be pulled off because of your arm in the jacket sleeve — so thief would have to cut camera strap, or your arm to get it off. Thieves want easy, no hassle prey. Make it difficult and they are likely to choose easier targets.
    And take out camera gear all-risks and personal travel insurance for specified losses. Specify all you camera gear at replacement value. Insurance is cheaper than regrets. Enjoy the trip... safely.
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  7. Ephemeral Moment

    Ephemeral Moment Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 3, 2010
    My solution to this was to buy a cheap digital compact, this goes along with my cheap pay as you go phone, nothing I'm attached to and nothing worth nicking :)
  8. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:
    Buy insurance. Get a backpack that opens toward your back, use a bag that can be slung across the shoulder, buy some pacsafe stuff, and be aware of your surroundings and what you are doing.
  9. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    I was thinking that someone had posted about a strap that was reinforced in such a way that it couldn't be easily cut.

    My advice would be to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The worst places are in crowded areas that are known tourist stops, like markets.

    Plus 1 to downloading your pictures each day. I always do that, either to iPad or laptop, so all my previous shots would not be lost if the card was.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. stingx

    stingx Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 10, 2012
    Weird, NJ
    Real Name:
    Hugh Douche
    I have several "cheapies" I bought. I grabbed an old E-P1 for $80 and I have a few less than $100 used prime lens. So, for instance, if I was out an about and my E-P1 + Sigma 19mm was stolen, then I am only out $180. Sucks but still better than losing my GX1, 40D, etc., etc.

    I find this to be the best as I get great quality pictures and don't worry/baby belongings when abroad or in questionable areas.
  11. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:

  12. ill_dawg

    ill_dawg Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2010
    • Like Like x 4
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    That's silly. Just take precautions and be careful.

    You're right about Ecuador. We watched a thief get nabbed right in the Quito airport terminal when we were there two or three years ago.

    If you search the internet for general anti-theft precautions, you'll probably find enough to keep you reading from today until your airplane takes off.

    A few thoughts:

    1) I would avoid backpacks. Worn to the back, it is too easy for someone to unzip a pocket or just slit the nylon. I have seen them worn to the front (On the Moscow Metro, another well known hot spot) but at best it will be awkward. Instead I suggest a messenger bag or a sling bag that can be comfortably worn to the front when you are in public places. Get one with a positive closure like a squeeze-to-open nylon buckle, not a lift-to-open magnet catch.

    2) Don't travel with more bags than you can control, particularly if you are relying on public transportation. This means the messenger bag and one carry-on size bag.

    3) My home-made sling strap has a steel cable inside the tubular nylon webbing. I think I have seen conventional camera straps that are also steel reinforced. I suggest you hunt around a little bit. Cutting a strap is an easy way to steal a camera.

    4) The Pacsafe stuff (Pacsafe Anti-Theft Bags & Travel Security Products) that several have mentioned has always looked good to me though I have never actually bought any. The travel catalogs, Magellans and Travelsmith, might also have similar products from other vendors.

    5) The camera is actually not the important part. It can be replaced. Your photos can't. When traveling, I carry at least four memory cards per camera and use them in rotation. Every night I take the cards out of the cameras and put the next card in. This spreads my take over multiple cards so even if I lose a card or lose the camera I have not lost everything. My wife and I also split the cards between us, so she has half my cards and vice-versa. There are more expensive and better backup schemes (portable disk drives, etc.) that you might want to consider. Mine is simple and requires no extra gadgets or space, but it is not bulletproof.

    6) Take a spare camera and never carry both cameras in the same bag.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Yeah, its a problem. There was an article a few weeks ago in a US paper that pro photo journalists refuse to take assignments in Oakland because so many have been robbed of their equipment. Even TV people reporting live LOL.
  15. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Real Name:
    ME, coming from Chile, and knowing southamerica quite enough, i can tell you, no one is going to pull your backpack.

    Yes, there are pick-pockets, but no one is going to assault you. Is not worse than any place in Europe.

    Just dont leave your bags unattended or open.

    In fact ive got robbed 3 times in the last 5 years, 2 in NZ and 1 in Spain. So like @stingx said, if you are going out with the fear of...dont even take the camera out in the first place.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Kilauea

    Kilauea Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    Real Name:
    This is off topic, but also on topic. I got a Retrospective 5, but also consider getting myself a Kata minibee. What would u consider for such trips granted its mostly in the city ?
  17. jumbotron

    jumbotron Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2011
    Vancouver, Canada
    Fear of camera theft? Hmmm...

    Fear of camera theft? Hmmm...

    Kamerakleptophbia? Lol

    I don't travel much, but I think my fear level would be the same as when I'm in my own hometown - Having stuff stolen is horrible - exercise normal and sensible behaviour like not leaving your gear in the back-seat of the car (even for 2 minutes) or leave any gear in the trunk of your car - the scenerio of someone ripping a camera off your shoulder or back seems really unlikely these days - especially when the most unassuming looking person can ofter kick your ass with shot to the throat or the fact that people carry guns or sprays in this messed up world.

    Like someone else posted - it's just gear - it can be replaced. Whenever I do travel - I back-up my images using Dropbox and the photo syncing at least once a day. As to keeping it inside your coat pocket? It's an OM and lens - not an iPhone - it's safer in a proper bag or around your neck
  18. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    if you look like a tourist you're more likely to be targeted, so your experience might not be representative of what he would encounter.

    this means everything, from the way you dress to the way you talk to the places you go. just be aware of that.

    +1 on no backpacks, this is true just about anywhere, you just wouldn't go on public transit with a backpack over your back (or any crowded areas).

    don't carry much, don't carry even a bag. if it doesn't fit in your pockets dont't take it.

    expensive cut / theft proof bags just advertises that you have something valueble, i would avoid it.
  19. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I used to be a news photog back in the film only days. Used to shoot every working day, often in the worst parts of the worst places in the world. My cameras were large motorized Nikons hanging from neck and shoulder and a large bag stuff with lenses (just for balance).

    I've never had an incident of any kind in any place I've been working. Not even a hint of a robbery that I can recall. I suggest:

    1) Never make yourself out as an easy mark, a pigeon.;
    2) Always be alert. Don't be afraid to make eye contact with those around you. Really look and make a mental note of what you see. The mental notes of ... a guy in a blue coat ... a yellow Volkswagon bug idling ... just forces you see what you're looking at. Look behind yourself ever now and then (like a 'Crazy Ivan'). You don't have to have your head on a swivel, but you do need to be aware of your surroundings.
    3) Never leave your equipment untethered from your body or not in your hand.

    Even now, when I shoot I try to dress like I'm working, a professional. I always wear a sleeved and collared shirt, long pants, closed-toed shoes.

    I recognized that vacations are much different than a working news photog. Just sayin' what worked for me and maybe you can incorporate some of my experiences into your trip.

    • Like Like x 2
  20. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    I think the odds of being mugged for a camera is very, very small. If your camera is going to go missing, it's likely when it's left in the hotel room or left unattended at a bus stop bench or if you leave your bag out while going to the bathroom. I don't think it's an issue if stuff is with you.

    And I never understood the idea of cut proof straps/bags. I mean, you're hypothetically dealing with a criminal who has a knife or razor blade. Wouldn't it just be wiser to avoid them or let them have what they want? If they want it that bad, probably better to give it up. After all, it's just gear.