Despicable Team of Thieves Steal a Photographer’s Lens in Seconds

You might not think you need insurance for your photography gear. After all, you take good care of your equipment and you’ve read all the tips on avoiding theft. You’re vigilant about keeping your camera with you on a slash-proof strap at all times. You don’t travel alone. It’s not likely that insurance would ever be worth the cost. Right?

This video of thieves stealing a photographer’s expensive lens might make you think again:

In the short footage, a photographer in Saint Petersburg, Russia is overwhelmed by a group of thieves who steal the lens right off the camera around his neck in the blink of an eye. Organized criminals are able to get away with this sort of offense by distracting their victims and fleeing the scene before anyone can make sense of what is happening. In cases such as these, even the most cautious traveler can be caught off guard.


Incidents such as these are a good reminder for photographers to insure their cameras, lenses, and other valuable gear. Look into your existing insurance policies to see if your camera equipment is covered. Travelers insurance is one option for protecting your valuables while you’re in unfamiliar territory. If you’re a pro, it’s likely Desthat your standard homeowners or renters policy does not cover your gear; there are special insurance programs available through professional photographers’ associations.

Though you may try your hardest to avoid being the victim of theft, there’s always a chance that you’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The value of camera gear makes insurance indispensable. Your peace of mind is worth the monetary expense.

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10 responses to “Despicable Team of Thieves Steal a Photographer’s Lens in Seconds”

  1. Andrew Koran says:

    I’d have to say the video exposes a rather careless attitude on the photographers part. Let’s see, I’m wearing a bright orange jacket, which not only makes me stand out in a crowd, it also defines the camera I’m wearing, I also see the thieves corner him in a “corralled” area. Insurance companies will always state that you should take as many steps that you can to reduce losses.

    The situation shown is a very common one, several distractors and on or more working the grab…

    Another point, avoid being a do-gooder, by informing a photographer that his is camera gear could be stolen or is in danger of the same. That is a common distraction, and if you hang around after a theft, you will be suspect number 1.

    So, let’s see,how would a different guy handled this
    -bright colors a no-no, blend in
    -be aware of your surroundings, one of the best ways to prevent loss, but I see it all the time, head in the air, no clue
    -if you are not using your camera, bag it!
    -avoid gear with “steal me” icons

  2. Jugstopper says:

    I had my wallet lifted in Costa Rica with some similar techniques. Boy do you feel stupid afterwards. At least I could cancel cards, though.

  3. mp says:

    If you look and act like a doofus tourist you might as well paint a target on yourself…

  4. don3 says:

    It’s interesting to see that the comments – not surprisingly, but insultingly – blame the victim. Our culture seems to feel that if someone gets raped, robbed or beat up, it’s their own fautl. I’m a little sick of that attitude.

  5. ED says:

    The comments do blame the victim, however that attitude may be only the reaction to a feeling of helplessness toward rising crime rates. It is not the victim’s fault but the only available resource for those of us who feel offended by this theft (and so many others) is to try to avoid them. Regrettably, the likelihood of these thieves getting caught is low.

  6. Charlie says:

    The solution: Try never to shoot photos where you can’t legally pack a Colt 1911 45 cal. At the first sign of trouble you can offer the option of how they’d like to get shot.

  7. marc says:

    The problem now is the “pack” approach employed by so many of these teams. A favorite tactic is to use kids because they know most people will not swat away at a kid. The bright orange jacket doesn’t help but at the same time, you should be able to walk the streets with whatever you are wearing and not be subject to an assault. Don’t be afraid to start spinning and moving away. Keep a sense of personal space and avoid those who creep into. Yes, there are times when you will risk looking like a total jerk, but unfortunately, that’s the tradeoff versus losing your lens.

    Part of me thinks this video was staged. Anyone else think so?

  8. ED says:

    I keep wondering who set the camera and for what purpose. It appears to be lower than regular surveillance cameras. I wouldn’t be sure it is staged though.

    Staged or not, walking around with a camera has become quite risky, and we keep getting less confident and more rude in the streets.

  9. Reggie says:

    Well all said and done …whatever happened to tourist protection and countries wanting tourists to come to their land ? I for one will never ever visit Russia or befriend a Ruskie now…

  10. Robert F says:

    Not blaming the victim; but always have awareness of bottlenecks and swarms of people when there is plenty of space for them to go around.

    Given this situation a simple firm left hand-cradle around the neck of the lens obstructing the lens release button would have been enough to retain possession of the lens (or put up more of a struggle for it). Leaving his right hand free to engage in an appropriate manner.

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