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Russian Thieves Steal Lens Right Off Photographers Camera

By Anthony Thurston on July 11th 2013

Being a tourist can be tough when you are in an unfamiliar country. You may or may not speak the native language, likely have no clue where you are or at least have not been to where you are going. The point is that you have a lot on your mind, just make sure that your gear is not forgotten.

It can be easy to feel like your camera/gear is safe if you have it on you, but that is not further from the truth. The video I’ve embedded below is proof enough of that. In the video some Russian thieves manage to gang up on a photographer and steal a lens right off his camera without him even noticing (at first). Its actually quite cool if you can get past the fact that a photographer lost his hard earned and likely very expensive lens in the process. Lets hope the poor man had some insurance on that lens.

It is rather beautiful terrible how they are able to pull it off isn’t it? If you would like to avoid being the victim of a group of thieves like this you can follow a few simple steps to try and avoid it.

  • Step 1: Have insurance on your Gear – Seriously, this should be a no brainer – especially if you travel often. If anything happens to your gear you will be able to get it replaced, or at least compensated for it in someway. Believe me, this is much better than a long plane ride home wondering how you are going to replace a $2,000 lens.
  • Step 2: Hold on to your gear at all times – Nothing gives away a tourist like a big camera hanging around your neck. Sling the camera around to your side and hold onto the body with whichever hand the camera is closest to. This way if anyone touches or tries to mess with your gear you will feel it, even if you can’t see it.
  • Step 3: Avoid groups like the one in the video – If you all of a sudden get swarmed get out of there ASAP. Most importantly beyond getting away from the group, secure your gear. If you are wearing a coat put your gear inside the coat, at the very least hold onto it for dear life.

In some cases you can still get duped and have your gear stolen. But that is what step 1 is for, so in the horrible case where that happens you have some light at the end of the tunnel, even if you vacation or trip is ruined.

 [via Fstoppers]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Dimitri

    Wow, just dont go to russia, sucks

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  3. Kurtz A

    I feel bad for the old guy, i would shoot a guy for my lens, ill go ape shit like Liam Neison in taken lol

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  4. DocMo

    There were actually 5 guys in on the theft.
    4 guys created a square around the target and 1 guy was off to the side (with hat and bag). When the lens was nabbed, the guy who took the lens stood still while another thief was a ruse to draw the target in the opposite direction (you see him grab the target’s shoulder and run in the opposite direction). Had it not been for the diversion, the target was heading to confront the thief who had the lens. The side guy then swoops in, takes the lens, puts it in bag, and they’re gone. IF they got $1000 for the lens in a fence, then each of them made $200.

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  5. Ethan Lynch

    Well Someone should come up with a lock for the lenses now, so that they don’t come off in 2 easy steps.

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  6. Anthony Riordan

    It’s the worst feeling in the world having your gear stolen. Had it happen to me at a horse racing event where I gave the camera bag to a friend to mind, he put it at his feet while standing on the back of a truck. Some hooded opportunist crawled under the truck and reached up while a race was finishing, grabbed the bag, shimmied out the other side and ran for the gate. By the time my friend saw it was missing it was too late and the robber had escaped. Another time at a wedding in London, I put my camera down at a table where the bride’s father was sitting as I was taking down light stands I’d used for group shots and when I returned the bride’s father was holding my camera. He explained a man simply walked down to the area where we were taking the photos(two floors down from reception and away from the leisure centre) and walked over to the table, reached down to pick up my camera when the bride’s father grabbed it and said it was his camera, what are you doing? The man told him he thought it was his own camera he’d left down here earlier and walked away quickly. Now I keep my camera bag on my shoulder or locked in my car at all times. It never touches the ground and my camera is never put down. It’s too dangerous and too expensive to trust the public or to trust your friends to mind your gear.

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  7. Daniel Yubi


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  8. Chad McKinney

    Man that was quick and efficient. Two guys to provide a diversion while the other guy twists and then the redirect hand off of that 70-200? lens. I’ll be sure to secure my strap to the tripod point on my 70-200 while vacationing or shooting around crowds.

    Camera insurance would have been good here but maybe his homeowners policy would cover it if he’s not a professional barring his deductible isn’t too high.

    Be alert and avoid these situations.

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  9. Paul H

    The give away is when one in the group starts pushing a card or clipboard into your abdomen.

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  10. Doc Fluty

    Thats frikin scary!

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  11. JC Ruiz

    Something tells me that this wasn’t the thieves first go around at this. Unfortunate that this photographer lost his lens. Just a reminder that we must be vigilant with our gear at all times.

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