Photographer has $17,000 Worth of Gear Stolen, Including New Sony a7S III

One of the nightmares every photographer is to have their camera bag stolen while out on a shoot. Well, that's happened to one YouTuber, and the bag had some rather expensive items.

When it comes to being protective over my camera bag, I'm usually extra vigilant. Opportunists and thieves will likely be aware that the contents of a photographer's camera bag are higher in value than any other bag they could lift, and so whenever I'm in a public place, I will rarely be apart from it. However, it's not always possible to do that — like if you're shooting a YouTube video — and sometimes you may think you're safe when you aren't.

In this video, Chris Hau goes through the story of how his brand new Sony a7S III, a smattering of Sony G Master lenses, and lots of accessories were stolen from him. It's a tale that will make you grimace, but I'm sharing it for three reasons. Firstly, it's a good reminder that you need to always be on guard with your camera bag; it can be stolen very quickly and almost anywhere. Secondly, I want to share the serial numbers of Hau's gear so that our community can keep a lookout for it, and maybe provide some justice. You can view the gear list and the serial numbers by clicking here. Finally, I want to use this opportunity to remind you that if you can't afford to replace something, you need to have it insured! Hau shares some great tips on that, too.

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Joseph Walsh's picture

Ugh, I can't imagine how sickening it must have felt to realise all that gear had been stolen! I feel self-conscious about the value of my camera & stuff when I'm out, even though what I'm carrying rarely amounts to more than a few hundred pounds!

Richard Hart's picture

I had practically all my equipment stolen from my car outside my house a few years ago. About $20k worth. I had just been on a big shoot. Local police couldn’t have been more useless even when I located items still for sale on a website used by thieves. The police said I could only talk to the case officer and he wasn’t going to be at work for a few days. It makes you want to take the law into your own hands. The website wouldn’t help either without a court order. They are scumbags earning off crime and making it difficult for anyone to do anything about it. I found a lot of my items in a pawn shop 1 mile away from my house where they were stolen. It took 3 months to get the police to accompany me to get them back. I was only expecting one item. To rub it in, I had to reimburse the pawn shop owner. It’s simple things that you miss the most like bags that you can’t buy or gadgets that you forget where they were purchased.

I also had no equipment insurance. I recently had to change my insurance because a client insisted on having a redundant and totally unnecessary policy wording. The policy didn’t cover equipment theft.

Loren Pechtel's picture

Why did you have to reimburse the pawn shop owner? If you can prove it's your item they don't have actual ownership even if they paid for it. Their loss, not yours.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Likely an example of the pawn shop being a bona fide purchaser for fair value without knowledge. Certainly a lot of grey / debatable area, but hard to prove otherwise.

John Rus's picture

No it's not hard to prove if you have the serial number. They are not only forced to give it back to you but they can face fines as well for buying stolen gear. Any reputable shop would turn down a purchase like that and even call the cops on the scum bags. At least the one pawn shop who I am super good friends with the manager and owner does that.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out a regular who is notorious for stealing shit. Is now trying to sell you a $5,000 camera (In my case.). Which by the way is used value, new it is $6,500!

Loren Pechtel's picture

Being a bona fide purchaser protects them from receiving stolen property charges, it doesn't give them title to the property.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

So if the pawn shop is truly a bona fide purchaser, they lose out from the theft? The original victim loses nothing?
It's been a while since my property law courses (and, those were in Canada), but I'm not sure if that's right. I think the rule of equity would give the pawn shop title.
Again, it's been a while - I clearly need to brush up.

Loren Pechtel's picture

The thief doesn't have title, thus he can't pass it to the pawn shop.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

We don’t have to quibble. I’d suggest though that you look up bona fide purchaser for value without knowledge (notice in some jurisdictions).
A good faith purchaser who doesn’t know about another interest can take ownership. It’s not a criminal law issue, but civil. The purchaser must have clean hands. Which a pawn shop may not. Pay a fair value and not know that someone else has an interest in the real property.
It’s not the theif’s title that is passing. Your right. That can’t pass. That’s what the bfpfvwk premise is for.

Daniel Godoy's picture

so sorry to hear about your gear stolen .. what was the insurance you used.. this will come in helpful to me amigo

Robert Hoffman's picture

Recall when phones were NOT four-digit password protected... the black market for hot phones evaporated with a simple lockout feature. Surely Sony, Canon, et al., can conjur up a simple firmware update to their most recent offerings... at least for camera bodies and perhaps corresponding lenses? Make these camera devices... turn them into bricks after 10 consequtive failed attempts ... like a phone... if you're a registered owner and get locked out...send it in to get it reset by the manufacturer. Theft problem solved. As purchasers/conumers... we need to DEMAND this feature.

David Stokes's picture

LOL I AGREE! Sorry, I just wrote a response to another commit saying the same thing. Sorry for repeated your commit Robert. BUT I SOOOOOOOO AGREEEEEEE

sam dasso's picture

Why would anybody put the bag with $17,000 worth of anything unattended 15 ft behind themselves? I'm surprised that insurance company covered this act of negligence (assuming that story is real and not just made up for the click bait)


I'm 100% sure my insurance woudn't cover it.

Fristen Lasten's picture

Gear stolen and spilled coffee on the brand new sweater? It's 2020!

Dan Jefferies's picture

Could have been worse. Could have been a Canon...

David Stokes's picture

I know the feeling! Last December 2019 - January 2020 I was touring Germany. The trip starting bad and ended worst! While in Cologne (my first stop) I had spent the first 3 days videoing and photographing the Christmas festivals. I was using a GOPRO for most of videoing. After the 3rd day I figured I had all the video of what I wanted and left the camera (with the card in it) and the rest of my attachments in my hotel room (DON'T STAY AT THE BURNS HOTEL). I had packed the GOPRO and the rest of the stuff back into my suitcase under my clothing. Not thinking a think about it until I was on my way to the next town four days later. I take off on what I think is going to be a good trip. (WRONG) As I was traveling, I thought I would get the GOPRO and film my travels. I Stopped to look for it and it was GONE. EVERTHING FOR THE GOPRO WAS GONE AND $1000USD GONE! Called the hotel... "Will, if it was important to you, you should locked it up in the hotel safe". WTF? That started the tone for this trip.
During this time I had some major health problems that I was trying to deal with and getting the insurance company pay any of the cost. Of course, that was another nightmare!
Nearing the end of my trip, I had just arrived in Frankfurt for my finial 3 days before flying back to the US. I had been staying between hotels and Airbnb’s. My finial days there was going to be in an Airbnb. I arrived at the Airbnb late on Saturday. The place was NOT what it had been advertised to be and in a shady part of town. I found that out after getting there. Will, I thought, it is just 3 days and home, suck it up. Sunday morning, I went to get a coffee and something to eat. Gone, MAYBE 45 minutes. I came back to the apartment and thought .... Somethings wrong. The door was locked, but you know that feeling you get when something just isn't right? Right than it hit me, my backpack was GONE. WTF! A few sweatshirts, my baseball hat, and my backpack GONE! 24K of Sony Gear GONE, my hard drive with all my photos GONE, my Passport GONE. LOL, for some reason, I had put my laptop and a few credit cards in the refrigerator just in case I was mugged. Didn't think I would be ROBBED!
Filed the police report (for the second time, GOPRO being the first) with a copy of my excel spreadsheet that had all the gear and serial numbers and cost. MOVED into a hotel and notified the US Embassy.
I am back in the States and file the claim with my insurance company USAA. I had a rider to cover my photo gear of which I had been paying for some time. I fought with USAA for 8 months to pay my claim. I produced 36 pages of receipts for all my gear, an excel spreadsheet will all the gear, make model serial numbers etc.. USAA (the worst insurance company in the USA) fought about the German police report (it wasn’t in English – NO SH!T). Would not except Emailed receipts for items purchased online, threaten me with fruad, secret special investigations, NCIS my life…. I was waiting for the waterboarding and bamboo shoots. LOL, after 22 years in the Army, like that was going to “break me”. It wasn’t until after I sought legal counsel that they paid my claim.
For you that ARE US Military members with USAA RUN! Don’t look back RUN! I had them for 38 years. I went to State Farm and my insurance reduce 62% and DOUBLED (2X TIMES) the amount of coverage.


Cool Cat's picture

Man... what a horror story. It's almost unthinkable how some people have no soul. Someone could be starving to death and have their lunch stolen. Sick. Hope you never experience that again in your lifetime.

David Stokes's picture

Thanks Cool Cat! You know the worst part... they got all my photos.. DAMN! LOL, maybe someday I will see them online and know, will.. that was a good shot!.
Thanks again!

J K's picture

Chris. I don't get why you think getting $15,000 back on a replacement cost loss of $17,000 is ok. What is your deductible? $2,000+. I'm sure you documented all your purchases. Get what you are entitled to; not what you will be happy to settle.

Rich Umfleet's picture

Back when film was a thing and Minolta still made cameras, I lost everything in a typhoon in the Philippines. The roof collapsed over where my gear was being stored. After a few days sitting in a dark closet under a pile of wet clothes, my camera bag, inside and out, was one big mold culture. To make matters worse, as I was trying to dry everything out, rats started eating at the rubber grips on the camera body and focus rings on the lenses. Had they been stolen, my travel insurance would have paid for them. Since it was an Act of God, I was SOL. Moral of the story, secure doesn't always mean safe.

Cool Cat's picture

Whenever I used to go out on a job and was loading or unloading the equipment I had one person standing at the car, one person moving the equipment and one person standing at the dropped off. In 14 years I never lost even a lens cap. Poor guy... what a bummer.

Fristen Lasten's picture

I have heard others talk about gear insurance. They said once they made a claim their insurance company dropped them.

John Rus's picture

That has not been my experience, I have an awesome policy and Farmers has always been completely painless. They have always gave me a very fair value on any claim I have made and never even raised my premiums.

But as always, your mileage may vary.

John Rus's picture

I just had that happen to me on Friday as well! Had $7,500 worth of gear stolen. Thankfully it was all insured and they will cover it. But it is such a sinking feeling. I don't know how someone like that can sleep at night.

David Stokes's picture

Won't it be nice if the camera companies would add the ability to disable cameras and lens? Send them a copy of the police report and they send out a code that disables the camera FOREVER. Cameras and lens become permanently disabled rendering them useless. PAPERWEIGHTS! After a while, don't you think people would reduce (we will never get thieves to stop ripping people off) the amount of gear stolen?

My moment of "IF I WAS KING FOR THE DAY"

E S's picture

Would miniature GPS trackers work to help recover stolen items? I was considering this for my camera bag. I could sew a small pocket into the base that would allow for removal for charging, yet still be hidden.

Does anyone use this type of technology and if so, how has it worked out?

Rich Umfleet's picture

If they work. I bought a credit card sized gps tracker 6 months ago that I could slip in my camera bag, but apparently, my new phone is incompatible with the tracking app.