Robbers target photographer in San Francisco – incident caught on camera

San Francisco camera gear robberies
(Image credit: ABC7 News)

If you're a photographer based in San Francisco, California, you may want to take extra precautions when shooting in the city, and definitely stay well away from shooting at or near the monumental Palace of Fine Arts, which has recently become a hot spot for armed robberies specifically targeting camera gear. 

In two separate incidents in the Bay Area of San Francisco, one photographer had his gear stolen while undertaking an engagement shoot with a couple, and another was robbed of his equipment at gunpoint earlier on the same day, November 9, 2022. 

This is the best camera insurance for photographers

Photographers in San Francisco are understandably shaken and urging others not to conduct shoots outside of the Palace of Fine Arts for their own safety amid violent camera equipment armed robberies taking place. In two separate incidents occurring on the same day, some unfortunate photographers were made victims.

As reported by ABC7 News, one of the nameless photographers had traveled to San Francisco from Dallas, just for the day, to shoot an engagement session for a couple in the afternoon. He was then captured on camera (ironically) having his gear stolen by two masked and armed men that suddenly approached the scene.

The photographer thankfully managed to wrestle his gear and camera bag back out of the assailant's hands and explained to ABC7 News via a phone call that he had been pistol-whipped by the attackers and the entire experience was harrowing. 

Expressing that he would never shoot outside of the Palace of Fine Arts again, he shared "I was just freaked out. I tried to protect the client's memories. The bride was crying the whole time". The photographer is also encouraging couples to no longer hold photo shoots there, or at any popular tourist destinations in San Francisco.

See the report from ABC7 News below

On the same day (November 9, 2022), it was reported to the San Francisco Police Department that another photographer had faced one of these violent attackers, as one photographer witnessed another being robbed at gunpoint outside of the very same landmark, the Palace of Fine Arts.

The assailants this time unfortunately got away with the photographer's camera bag, but thankfully not his life as he came away unscathed. 

In recent news, the San Francisco Police Department has confirmed to ABC7 News that they are analyzing evidence and hope to positively identify the attackers in the recent Palace of Fine Arts instances.

Other photographers have also come forward in recent days to share their own stories of being robbed in the San Francisco area, with "smash and grabs" being a popular method among thieves, stealing gear from moving cars and following individuals home to wait for the right moment

If you're shooting in a city environment, especially in San Francisco, please keep yourself safe and avoid flaunting gear unnecessarily or using expensive or large lenses in popular tourist attractions or busy areas. 

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

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

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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'.