Preventing Stolen Gear

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jonathan_o'neill, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Hope this is the right place for this since its to do with weddings.
    Just last weekend I was at a wedding(as a bestman this time) and my fellow wedding photog friend was shooting it well the story goes he packed all his gear into his car the night before so he be ready to leave in the morning but during the night he heard someone break into his car and just buy luck he manage to scare them away before his gear was stolen.
    My question would be do any of you pack the night before or do it in the morning(keeping in mind that you have a 21/2 hour drive ahead of you?
  2. Absolutely never. Just one bag I carry has nearly $10,000 in equipment in it. I drag that thing around like it's my own child. :-D
    And, insurance is always a nice thing to have.
  3. We pack all lightning gear and all non-camera equipment the night before. Then we load up the camera gear in the morning. That stuff is way to expensive and important to be left in a vehicle over night...or for an hour...or a minute.
  4. Actually - as bad as I want to sometimes... NO!!! I will never pack my gear the night before.
    Now, if I had a garage w/ alarm I could set.... maybe. Since we have a carport, and a history of car vandalism/pop & steals in our area, not a chance.
    The gear is packed and ready and stacked in one place - but I will get up and be sure to allow the 10 minutes to load the car. And 10 minutes is all it takes when we have to take it ALL (photo, backdrops, stands, lights, video stuff......).
  5. I never park my car in the street and I don't leave anything valuable in the car overnight. I just returned from vacation. 10 days ago when we set out from home, we had to leave early in the a.m. for a 12-hour drive. I made everybody get their stuff packed the night before and put out in the living room. But I didn't pack the minivan until 7am.
    My brother-in-law (not a pro photographer) had a good camera stolen from his car while he was visiting his mother. Amazingly, the camera was later recovered by the police! His mother (my mother-in-law) lives in a good neighborhood. Doesn't matter. I live in a good neighborhood, too, but there was a spate of car break-ins here some months ago - made the local television news.
    By the way, don't just worry about your car! There are stories here about photographers having gear stolen AT THE CHURCH! Sad, very sad, but true.
  6. I had someone break into my car and steal the chains. Yep, snow chains. I'd never leave a camera in the car. I get nervous if I have to stop to use the restroom with the gear in the car. I don't even leave the GPS in there. Thieves will steal anything.
  7. I keep some light stands and an old tripod in the trunk, but in 30+ years I've never left a camera or lightbag in a car parked outdoors overnight. It's a recipe for trouble, no matter how nice the neighborhood,
    Henry Posner
  8. NOTHING of value is ever left in my car unless it is in my attached garage, certainly not a camera. I prefer to have everything locked in the trunk, clothes and all. When I rented a SUV one time, equipment was put into picnic coolers to disguise it. I never let anyone see me place valuables in the trunk either.
    If a car is preloaded the night before, locks are put in the door track to prevent opening.
    Rental cars are prime targets in some places with the license numbers that give them away.
    When we travel, one of us stays in the car if we can not find a place to eat with a window table.
    If none of the above is possible, valuables come into the rest stop with me.
  9. By the way - PacSafe has several interesting theft-deterrence products.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  10. Someone broke into a rented car, but the alarm went off and apparently chased off the thieves. The gear was left OK.
    I had full insurance coverage for the car, however the car rental company could not find word "vandalism" in the contract, and insisted that I should pay for the window.
    Solution: I found insurance contract wording coverage for "total loss" of the vehicle. After I offered help to take the car and crush it agains the concrete wall... the argument ended.
  11. I pack all of my gear the night before. It stays inside my house until it's time to leave. My second shooter meets me at my house, and we load all of the gear into my car (his, and mine) and immediately get into the car and go. I, too, live in a nice neighborhood... but nice neighborhoods are targets for thieves. Insurance is great... and an absolute must... but it's not something you want to deal with the day of a wedding. I couldn't imagine rushing around the morning of a wedding trying to replace stolen gear.
  12. my stuff stays in the house on the table waiting for loading....then I just allow 15 minutes pack my car... and I live in an area where there is little to no crime....
  13. I have everything ready to go, packed. And load in the car when I am ready to go...I have insurance that covers the equipment, so, I feel much better.
  14. Like most others.... nothing goes into the car until the last minute. My gear stays in sight wherever possible. During a wedding I may leave my bag unattended in a safe place for a while, but I don't leave anything in it that I couldn't afford to lose.
  15. Unless the car was in the garage I would never load my camera equipment into it the night before even though my insurance covers it. Leave it at the front door. It takes all of 2 minutes to load it in the morning of.
    I'll leave lightstands or tripods in the car and things like that. Stuff that isn't essential to perform my job - but the core equipment is just asking for trouble.
  16. Never!!!
    I am so careful with my stuff all the time and I have never left it in the car, a lot of times after a gig a want to get a bite on the way home but I rather go home first drop my gear and then go out to get a bite!
  17. i pack my gear the day before... but there is no reason why i need to leave it in the car that night.. whats wrong with putting it in the floor next to you and grabbing them on your way out?
  18. I pack the night before but don't put gear in the car, whether outside or inside. You don't know who can see or has seen you pack your car with gear, or who knows what you do on weekends. Anyone who thinks that they can put photo gear in a car overnight, even in the 'best' neighborhoods, is quite naive, in this day and age.
  19. I never leave camera equipment in my car overnight. I would rather spend an extra 30 minutes packing than have everything stolen the morning before a big shoot.
  20. If I didn't have a garage I wouldn't leave anything of value in my car overnight. It really doesn't have anything to do with photography for me though. I don't even like to be seen putting anything in the trunk of my car because someone watching could assume I'll be away from the house for a while whether I am or not. Even with an alarm on the house it just gives potential thieves more confidence if they think no one will be home. I tend to back my car in and load it with the garage closed. That way I can load whenever I want to whether it is to put a cooler in the trunk to go to the store or leaving on a two week vacation with all of my luggage and camera gear. Of course the camera gear is insured, but as others have said it would suck be looking for new gear the day of a wedding or whatever else you might be packing for. Just common sense really.
  21. Well I would never pack my equipment the night before and I have a garage which both my wife abd I park our vehicles in all the time. I have had a friends home broken into thru the garage so I do not even place my equipment in it the night before. I always pack the the day of the shoot and confirm all equipment from a list that I have made up. As for your home I recommend making a investment in a heavy duty gun safe with a electronic lock and not a key. Even if your lights are taken (very unlikely) a theif will not be able to make off with your camera gear.
  22. I would never place valuable items in the car the night before. And if the car is on the road when it is broken into, even the insurance my be invalidated.
  23. I think that common sense should prevail. Has nothing to do with photography, I think. It all depends on a variety of factors: value of potential loss, how good is your insurance, is the car parked in the street or in a garage.
    I wouldn't even keep my 20-speed road racing bike in the car overnight. And that only costs about what a D3 costs.
  24. Pack the SUV just before we leave. I fiddle with choices right up to the last minute and wait until a few minutes before leaving to load batteries from the chargers.
    I have been in situations where I've had to leave some gear in the car during the wedding day. In that case I secure the Think Tank bag using its built-in security cable and zipper locks and lock it to the security U bolt built into the Volvo X90s cargo area ... a thief would have to be well equipped to get away with it ... at which time insurance is the only counter measure.
    The key is out-of-sight, out of the thief's mind. Don't leave anything visible that may attract a break-in ... I use the pull cover for the cargo area, and I even use a steering wheel lock to deter theft of the car itself even though it is equipped with an alarm ... which everyone seems to ignore anyway.
  25. The first rule of security is common sense: avoid leaving equipment in your vehicle.
  26. I never pack before I am ready to leave. My gear never leaves my side when I do leave.
    As said, keep everything out of sight at all times. Be descreet as you load/unload your gear too.
  27. Howdy!
    The only time I ever had any equipment stolen from my car was when I was taking a dip in one of Idaho's many primitive hot springs (attired as nature intended) and I neglected to lock my vehicle. Somebody liberated a Rebel XT and a 70-200mm f2.8 (non-IS) lens.
    Fortunately, I had equipment insurance, and I also had written down all the serial numbers. I reported the theft, collected the insurance, and upgraded to the IS version of the lens and a 40D. The missing equipment showed up in a Montana pawnshop about a month later. The thieves were duly prosecuted and given a just punishment.
    Therefore, although not packing your car the night before is a good idea, I think that it is even more important to inventory all your gear, keep the serial numbers in a safe place, and carry insurance on it. You cannot stick with your gear at all times, no matter how much you may try.
  28. Jonathan,
    What do you think the right answer is?
  29. Howdy!
    1. In morning, carry cameras to car.
    2. Place cameras on roof of car.
    3. Drive to gig.
  30. I'd think that unattended gear stolen from the venue is more of a risk than secure gear stolen from a locked car.
    Best solution: Never leave your gear unattended! This should be part of your assistant's role. If you don't have an assistant, you should hire one. There are plenty of amaeteur photographers and students willing to work as your pack mule for as little as $8-$10/hour as long as they can follow you around to learn the craft. When I assist as second shooter (or third shooter if we have another lead with us) for my fiance (he's lead shooter), that's part of my job, to keep an account of all our gear. He carries two cameras and a "shootsac" during the ceremony and reception and leaves the rest of the equipment in a big bag, which is never more than 10 feet from me and always within my field of vision. When we hit the reception and don't need all the equipment from the big bag, I lock it up in the car. Additionally, when we're done with equipment, I run it back to the car so I don't have to worry about it. Used CF cards are always on my person, of course.
    The only equipment we don't constantly keep an eye on are our studio lights with attached pocket wizards, which are set up in corners and firing during the reception. We don't worry about those too much because I doubt anyone is going to have the nerve to take them down and try to carry them out of the venue without being noticed. And if a light stopped flashing, we'd notice it instantly. So they're pretty safe. If they do get taken, we're insured, so it's not a stressful thing to worry about. (Biggest concern with the studio lights is making sure they don't get tripped on or fall over. If they're can't be put in a safe location, we don't use them.)
    BTW, the shootsac is AMAZING! If you've never heard of them, go to A little pricey, but worth it because it's a great product. So handy!
  31. A semi related idea is do not identify yourself as a photographer with stickers or decals on your vehicle from photo associations and such. A friend who used to do part time weddings and video shoots has had a personalised license plate for years that says "PHOTO". Nothing subtle about that, and I cringe whenever I see it. Sort of an invitation to thieves - hey the owner of this car is a photographer!
  32. I would rather get up 10-15 minutes earlier than pack the car the night before. It takes the same 10-15 minutes before or after bed except you will be able to sleep worry free. Insurance helps with peace of mind, but wont provent you from being without your gear for that shoot. I wouldnt want to be in your shoes explaining to the bride she wasnt going to have her wedding photos because you wanted a few minutes more sleep!

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