What to do when you have $17,000 worth of camera gear stolen

It’s every photographer and filmmaker’s worst nightmare. You pop your bag full of gear down on the ground, turn around for a moment, turn back and it’s gone. Just missing. Well, that’s exactly what happened to YouTuber and filmmaker Chris Hau. On Friday the 13th, of all days.

While out on a shoot, he had his bag stolen from right behind him containing his Sony A7S III, 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, 24mm f/1.4 GM and Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 lenses along with a bunch of other accessories with a total value of a little over $17,000.

So if this does happen to you, why should you do? Well, after the initial panic, what Chris did was contact the police, who then contacted all of the local pawn shops and other places where somebody might try to offload the gear. Fortunately, Chris also has the serial numbers for his gear handy for just such events so that if something does show up, it can be positively identified as his kit, or eliminated from suspicion immediately.

His next stop was the insurance company and Chris mentions a number of points in the video that are important to understand if you’re off out shooting with a bunch of expensive camera gear. Things like having your policy specify replacement value and not market value – which can be very different numbers when it comes time for the insurance company to pay up.

Rental coverage is another important one, that allows you to keep working while you’re waiting for your permanent replacement gear. But if you’re a member of Nikon’s NPS, Canon’s CPS, or Sony’s Imaging PRO Support, you may be also able to get loaner gear as part of your membership in the event of theft. I know Nikon Pro Services used to offer this here in the UK and Canon Pro Services have offered it in other parts of the world, too. I’m not sure if either of them do it anymore, or if Sony offers a similar benefit to its members, but it’s worth checking if you rely on your kit to keep a roof over your head.

Now, Chris is waiting for the money to arrive, so all’s mostly well. Even though he’ll be able to replace his gear, he won’t be able to replace the files on those memory cards that he’ll never see again.

Chris’ story is a valuable lesson to us all to keep an eye on our kit at all times or to have it safely and securely locked up somewhere when we can’t. And we need to be vigilant on every shoot, because it’s almost guaranteed that the one time we think “Yeah, we’re ok” and let our guard down, that’s the day somebody will be nearby to grab it when you’re not looking.

And whether you think your gear’s safe or not, get good insurance. It may not be covered on your household policy if you’re using it for work. And even if it is, it may not cover the entire value. So, better check on that before you head out with your camera gear again.

I’ve been very lucky so far, that in the past couple of decades I’ve not had something like this happen to me. I know it can happen any time I leave the house with a bunch of gear, though. So, I always have my gear within my view while working or locked up somewhere safe.

Have you had a large amount of gear stolen? How did it happen? How did you react?

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