A San Francisco-based photographer is calling for camera and lens manufacturers to build anti-theft security features into their products. Louis Chan has started a petition on change.org, which has so far gathered 3,200 signatures, following an armed robbery he was the victim of.
In September 2021 Chan was followed home after a photoshoot and robbed at gunpoint on his driveway. The armed robbers used a window breaker to smash the back windscreen while Louis was still sitting in the car, then escaped with his camera gear. The robbery was all caught on camera but the thieves were never caught.
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Since the incident, Chan has pointed out that photographers are being targeted as “camera gear is the perfect thing to steal. It is of high value, holds its resale value and is compact and easy to conceal”. Unlike smartphones and cars, cameras have no systems in place to deter thieves – but Chan has proposed some ways in which camera and lens manufacturers could change this.
His first suggestion is to require a password as you do on a phone, only with the option of inputting it daily or weekly. He also suggested a system that pairs a lens to a specific camera so that lenses can’t be stolen, sold on and used immediately on another camera.
Watch video: Photographer robbed at gunpoint for his equipment
Another idea is to include a GPS tracking or internet connectivity similar to the 'Find My iPhone' function, which could be turned on or off by the owner or even include a biometric, fingerprint scanner or face recognition, since cameras are held in the hand and up to the face. Chan’s final suggestion is to make it possible to completely disable the camera remotely, so that it’s useless to anyone who steals it.
Chan shared his story with YouTubers Chelsea and Tony Northrup in the hope it will prepare other photographers, should they find themselves in a similar situation. The general advice from Chelsea and Tony is to insure your kit and if someone is trying to rob you, let them; you can replace camera gear, but escalating to violence could end in injury or loss of life as the aggressors could potentially have a weapon on them.
Since smartphones and cars were fitted with security measures such as alarms, face recognition and tracking systems, there has been a huge drop in theft of these items so there is hope for photographic equipment.
If you feel like camera brands should be doing more to ensure the safety of photographers and photographic equipment, head to change.org and sign the petition. At least 5,000 signatures are needed by 19 November to escalate the petition and have it recognized by local news channels.