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Thread: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

  1. #1
    schafphoto's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Ventura, California
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    Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    As I am outfitting a Toyota 4Runner as a photo-mobile, I'm curious to hear about your strategies and failures in keeping gear safe.

    Some of my tactics are:

    1. Limo-tinting the rear windows on the car, then covering all equipment with a ugly blanket and throwing some newspapers on top.
    2. No visible custom electronic eqipment in the car or on the dash to entice.
    3. car alarm with blinking light (though no one listens, it would still require a thief who wanted to swipe something to work more quickly that in peaceful silence. (or am I just kidding myself?)
    4. Bike-cable locking all my cases together so that they are virtually impossible to move. (Five 60# Pelican 1600 cases randomly strapped together makes for a slow getaway)
    5. Parking close to people, or lot attendants, never Valeting, even if it means paying the Valet rate, and making sure Hotels in big cities have on-site parking. Taking all cases up to the room, usually only leave the tripod under the blanket in the car.
    6. No stickers on the car that say "Steve's Photorama- We Do Photos" (so people can infer that there is photo gear in the car. I always wonder about this when I see photographers use their vehicles for rolling billboards... does this really work?
    7. No address on my web postings, website, I have a PO Box, and get B&H shipments at my wife's work which is open 9-5.

    I realize that some of these just prevent the smash & grab theft and if someone has the time to open my cases and unload my gear into their van then most are mute. But even though I can't run fast I could probably catch a guy with 2 60# Pelican cases. (Not sure what I'd do if I caught him though...)

    That's all I can think of for now...
    any ideas?
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    grand rapids
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    3,835

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    My buddies that have pickups have made giant sliding drawers in the beds that can be locked. Carpet on top to match. Cabela's sells these but they're easy to make. You could likely build something like that on a smaller scale.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
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    Bath, Ohio 44210 USA
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    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    Quote Originally Posted by schafphoto View Post
    As I am outfitting a Toyota 4Runner as a photo-mobile, I'm curious to hear about your strategies and failures in keeping gear safe.

    1. Limo-tinting the rear windows on the car, then covering all equipment with a ugly blanket and throwing some newspapers on top....
    any ideas?
    For a 2003 Toyota Highlander (similar in shape to the 4Runner) I had a convertible top shop make a tonneau cover using same color upholstery material. It connects to the front seat head rests and by Velcro in the back with the factory provided storage area cover. It gives an unbroken line from the front seats to the rear door at the bottom of the window level. When looking through the factory tinted windows everything is the same color and all shapes are lost.

    I carry either an 8x10 or a 7x17 mounted on a big Ries and a baby jogger under the cover. For long trips I carry both cameras mounted on tripods under the cover and the baby jogger in a trailer hitch mounted 2x4’ steel basket out back. The baby jogger out back gives no indications that there are cameras inside. When people see me get in they just think it is Grandpa (age 70) going to pickup the kid. Everyone who has seen it liked it except the US Customs inspector at Buffalo, NY who said, “He just loved to look in SUVs because he could see everything at a glance.” When his face turned sour I flipped up the Velcro.

    John

  4. #4

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    . . . . . . 'nuff said.

  5. #5
    Photographer
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Pine Junction, CO
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    652

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    A musician friend never leaves his instruments in his vehicle.
    Keith Pitman

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    4,585

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    Stay out of Chicago and Detroit.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
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    286

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    I have a Thule Adventurer that is on the top of my GMC Suburban.
    It can carry an amazing amount of gear and locks very well. I am sure a determined thief might be able to get in but not quickly and not discreetly.

    I also have much the same kind of theft deterrent as Steve only mine is female and very gentle, but most people looking inside my truck might not want to find out. She also has the added advantage of being a great traveling companion.

    I have traveled all over North America with my camera gear and either I have been lucky or careful, but I have never had any equipment stolen. I will have to admit that I have been a little nervous leaving my truck at some trail heads.

    If you are going into some parts of some cities, all bets are off

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
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    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    I'm always careful about who sees me putting gear in, and taking gear out of my vehicle. I think a common cause of theft is people seeing you walk away with photo gear and then breaking into the vehicle (even if they don't get anything it still sucks to have the windows broken or doors jimmied). So I always kill time in the parking lot until I can open the back, grab my gear, and walk away from my vehicle with no-one seeing my tripod. That also means that I pack my gear in advance so that when I arrive at my location I can just grab and go - no standing around moving lenses and camaras from bag to bag.

    I have also heard stories about people who have been followed back to their hotel. So when leaving a location, I keep an eye out for anyone following me.

  9. #9
    Ted Mastrandonas
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Pelham, AL
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    73

    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Feldman View Post
    . . . . . . 'nuff said.
    That's what I do also. I always get asked "Does she bite?". Me, "If she has to.".

  10. #10
    schafphoto's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Ventura, California
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    Re: Keeping gear from getting stolen...

    My two cats will be no help... but the rest of the suggestions are just what I was looking for.

    Thanks
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

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