As a photographer, you need to know how to take care of your gears and, most importantly, how to protect them as well as yourself. Here’s a video a Russian photographer/blogger shot in St. Petersburg, Russia a few month ago. In the video, a tourist is seen walking down the street with a huge lens attached to the camera that hangs around his neck. As he enters the frame, a group of thieves approaches him. Several thieves distract him by handing him something while another thief snaps the lens off his camera. When the victim realizes what is going on, it is already too late and the thieves walk away with the stolen lens.

Cameras and lenses can be very expensive, and are usually exposed even when being carried around by photographers. In the video, although the camera is being hanged around his neck, the lens is nonetheless stolen right in front of the victim. Moreover, photographers photographing special events sometimes have to leave some of their gears unattended since they move around a lot, and carrying all of their gears while moving and shooting is not physically possible. When they do so, it presents a window of opportunity for the thieves to make their moves.

Although there are no foolproof ways that offer 100% protection for your gears, there are measures you can take to make it difficult for the thieves and hopefully minimize your chance of becoming another victim.

  • Use Anti-Theft Gadgets
    • GPS Tags – As the name suggests, these little tags allow you to locate your gears through the GPS system. They are usually small enough to be tucked inside your camera bag and emit signal to broadcast their location without the thieves knowing. They are quite expensive, but would definitely be a good investment if you have thousands dollar-worth of equipment in you bag.
    • Motion/Proximity Alarms – These alarms are very useful if you have to leave your gears unattended when shooting. Motion alarms notify you when they are being moved, and proximity alarms are triggered when you are of certain distance away from your gears. There are many manufacturers on the market, and their products are pretty affordable to hobbyist photographers who do not have the same budget as the professional photographers.
  • Keep Them Close – When travelling, make sure your gears do not leave your sight. If you are flying or taking a train, bring them on to the plane/train as carry-on; if you are driving, put them in the trunk or cover them with anything that does not draw attention.
  • Bring a Friend – It is always safer to have someone with you than being alone, so be sure to bring a friend with you when you are out shooting. It is even better if your friend knows about the area more than you do.

Besides the above measures, you should bring as few items as possible when you are on the road. The less items you have, the easier it is to keep an eye on them and the less damage when a theft occurs. You may also want to purchase insurance for your gears if they are that valuable. There are a few insurance providers that offer plans for cameras and lenses, and you should take the time to do some research before deciding which plan to purchase.