$178K of Leica gear robbed from a camera store in San Francisco!

San Francisco Leica Store Robbery
(Image credit: ABC7 News)

We reported a few weeks back on how robbers targeted a photographer in San Francisco, California, in an attempt to steal their expensive gear. 

Most notably, these robberies have occurred outside in broad daylight at the Palace of Fine Arts, a hot spot for this criminal activity and a fly trap for photographers shooting there, with two incidents even occurring on the same day.

Robbers target photographers in San Francisco – incident caught on camera (opens in new tab)

In more recent news, the Leica Store in San Francisco is the latest victim of these armed attacks, having had $178K worth of camera equipment stolen at gunpoint from the store located near San Francisco's shopping quarter, Union Square.

As reported by (opens in new tab) ABC7 News, the armed robbery of the Leica store was lightning-fast – despite causing around $20k worth of damage – and took place in the early afternoon, at approximately 1:20 PM on November 26, 2022. 

Surveillance footage from the incident shows four men, at least one armed, exiting from a gray Sedan vehicle and walking casually towards the store entrance, and returning back to the sedan having robbed the store less than three minutes later!

The Bay Area of San Francisco has seen smash-and-grab robberies of camera equipment from moving vehicles, photographers being threatened and held at gunpoint during robberies, and one unfortunate lady was even shot in the leg after refusing to give up her camera to two armed robbers, according to CBS news (opens in new tab).

There has supposedly been an increase in the police presence in the San Francisco area in recent months, following the number of attacks that have been putting holiday shoppers (and photographers!) a little on edge. It might be best for the time being to not have your expensive gear on show when in the city, or any major city for that matter, with camera gear becoming such a target for thieves.

The resale value and low security of camera gear is presumably what makes it such a valuable target for robbers, as most tablets and smartphones now are locked with passcodes, two-factor authentication, and offer find my device features to locate stolen gear, whereas even the most expensive camera bodies and lenses don't yet offer this level of security.

• See: How Sony's in-camera signing technology could prevent image fraud (opens in new tab)

Sony seems to be getting there slowly, with plans to introduce image fraud prevention technology into its newer cameras to detect fake images, but surely it doesn't take much to just include a pattern lock on the touch-screen models or a pin code option to use modern mirrorless and DSLR cameras? Even cloud-based tracking or user interface sign-in options would be an easy anti-theft deterrent.

If you're a photographer based in San Francisco, please take extra precautions and stay safe when out with your gear. As for camera manufacturers, please do better to ensure the protection, security, and tracking of expensive gear. 

You may also want to take a look at our guides to the best body cameras (opens in new tab), and the best outdoor security cameras (opens in new tab), as well as the best doorbell camera (opens in new tab), and the best front and rear dash cams (opens in new tab) to keep you safe and secure. 

Other relevant articles discuss: Is travel photography safe? (opens in new tab) and learn how and why a victim of armed robbery is calling for anti-theft measures in cameras (opens in new tab).

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.