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News & Insight

To Catch A Thief, In Rio | Robbed Photographer Finds Thief Presenting Himself As Press

By Kishore Sawh on August 7th 2016

Wherever the Olympics are being held is like the epicenter for performance, and make no mistake, the talent pool runs deep. Talent, however, isn’t restricted to the confines of a track, or court, or mat, as thieving during the Olympics is also world class.

As it is wherever there are to be major events and city-sized crowds, thieves see city-sized opportunity, and Rio has been no exception. In fact, there was a great number of warnings to visitors of the games to be vigilant, though it seems even a lapse of 10 seconds is all it takes for 40k in camera gear to go missing as News Corp Photographer Brett Costello found out this week just prior to the start of the games.

Brett, was in a café in Rio where he was approached and distracted by a young x1woman, and simultaneously her accomplice ensured Brett was ‘relieved’ of the burden of his rolling case of camera gear that amounted to near-as-makes-no-difference, $40,000.


*Most official Olympic photographers are walking around with similar amounts of kit – see here

The whole event was rather well documented and recorded on a number of video cameras, and as the thieves take off with the gear in a getaway car, you can see and almost feel the moment Brett takes in all that’s just occurred, and it seems to hit that he’ll never likely see those people or the gear again.

[REWIND: Canon Is Bringing A Veritable Armory To The Rio Olympics & This Is It in Full]

So imagine his surprise when yesterday, just about two days after the theft, Brett, upon entering Sambodromo Stadium, took notice of a man directly behind him wearing an official Rio Olympics photographer’s vest with his official number on it. The man was wearing his vest that was part of what was stolen days prior.

Costello proceeded to confront the man, who promptly took the vest off and began to walk away, only to be quickly apprehended by security for questioning. The story, as reported in Yahoo Sports notes:

Costello showed the police video he had on his phone of the theft – closed circuit security camera footage in which screenshots of it can be seen on the Daily Telegraph site – and noted that it matched both the man who had his vest and another man that had been detained by police at the venue.


While there has been no immediate confirmation on whether Costello received his gear back (unlikely), one can’t help but think it was a rather sweet and serendipitous moment for him.

You can see the video of part of the confrontation if you click here, and here’s a list of some of the gear expected to be carried around by each of the Olympic Photographers


Canon 1DX Mark II

Canon 5DS-R’s


EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender
EF 200mm f/2L IS USM
EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM
EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

Source: Yahoo Sports

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rob Kirkland

    Isn’t it getty’s gear. Would the photographer be expected to pay for the stolen kit?

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  2. Karen Borter

    Wow yeah … unlikely he’ll get the gear back. Wonder why that is considering the guy was right there. Maybe he sold it. Wonder if he got the gear back that the guy had on him. Be vigilant at all times, not just the Olympics.

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  3. Daniel Thullen

    Nice equipment list. Thank goodness he was in the right place at the right time and got the crook!

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  4. Brian Jim

    Most crooks are not the sharpest tool in the shed!

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