The Dangers Of Urbex – Photographer Could Be Facing A Year In Jail And A 15,000 Euro Fine

urbex-jail-franceWhile Urban exploring (also referred to as Urbex) provides both wonderful photos for the viewers and a thrill for the photographer is it not always fun and games. Urban Explorer The Other Side (full name with the system) just shared a story with us about getting detained, almost arrested and practically being banned from doing any Urbexing in France or he will get in the slammer for a year and have to pay a fine of 15,000 Euros.

While exploring a partially abandoned factory in France, TOS got into the following uncomfortable situation on an early Sunday morning.

The lights were still working no one to be seen… But we were so wrong this time.

There was a strike going on that day, we didn’t know that. So a lot of activity and we got busted. Part of the game I guess. We were spotted by 10 workers (which shouldn’t be there that day) and they had us cornered. Oops…

Security took us away and police was called… Before police arrived about 15 other workmen joined us. Police wasn’t too happy this time.

The workers were very friendly once they knew we were photographers. They told us it was dangerous to walk there (like Always). The police at first was strict and polite. Later they understood our passion and they knew we didn’t plan to steal or break anything. But somehow it got to the ears of a prosecutor. He called to the local police and they had to put us in the system…Here is the weird thing, they tell us that against stealing gypsies and vandals they can’t/won’t do anything, but with us being in the system now, they had to follow protocol.

To make a long story short, If we get caught again in France in a place we shouldn’t be the next three years, we get a fine around 15,000 euro and possible 1 year cell.

The good news is that they managed to capture one good photo. The sad news is that they only got one photo (seen above) and did not make it into the ‘nicer’ parts of the factory.

Here is the wrap up for the story:

We got out of the police station, got in our car… looked at each other for a brief second and we immediately drove to our next spot… with a brief stop at mcdonalds

So remember that while urbexing can be fun and exciting, there is a real risk involved.

The Other Side has a great facebook page with lots of great urbexing from all over the world (though I suspect France will not be featured anytime soon), give him a shout if you like the story.

  • RML

    So, they got caught tresspassing if not breaking and entering, and are now wondering why they were processed? They’re lucky to get away with a warning. Photography is not a crime, but tresspassing and breaking and entering are. Both have nothing to do with photography. Fact is, that the prosecutor was right in processing them, as shown by their own admission that they have no intention of amending their ways.

    • Wil Fry

      Well said.

      And, like my Dad told me when I was a teenager, if you absolutely must do something illegal, it helps to make sure (in advance) that you won’t get caught.

      • OsFa Urbex

        gives you character ๐Ÿ˜€

    • DOS

      I don’t hear them complaining anywhere, just for the fact perhaps that gypsies, thieves and vandals are making a mess of that place and police doesn’t take any action against them; If you read the story there was no breaking and entering, just trespassing…

    • Rosencratz

      Actually Urbex’ing traditionally does not involve the “breaking” part of “breaking and entering”, it is actively and vehemently dis-encouraged within Urbex’ing circles, to break-in isn’t “explorin”g anymore, it’s vandalism, and trespassing itself is not necessarily a crime as much as it’s considered an “anti-social behaviour” depending on the country.

      • Joshua Boldt

        Breaking is not defined as physically damaging something to get in. The simple act of opening the door of a building you are not supposed to be in is breaking into it. It is entering once you ingress through the door into the property. By walking through the door into someone’s house or property without permission, even if the door wasn’t locked or was broken/ajar/abandoned you can be charged with breaking and entering and also trespassing depending on the state and local ordinances involved.

        • Rosencratz

          I think it depends on the country, as i said.
          Your mention of “State” suggests you are talking about America(assumption) where Urbex is less popular specifically because of the restrictive laws.
          This article references an event that took place in France. Europe, in general is a more popular location for Urbex because, as i said, the property damage is an important part of breaking and entering. If no damage is done, if a door open or a wall caved in so all you have to do is walk in off the street to get there without having to force your way in at all then it is merely trespassing.

          Trespassing over here is usually considered just an act of poor manners or a simple accident, you can be shoo’d on and if you leave when prompted that should be the end of it. Causing damage to or taking property you don’t own is where things get strictly illegal.

  • alex

    And they ruined the photo with shitty HDR.

    • jclbc

      Just think how much worse they could have ruined it had they had a year in cell to tinker with it.

    • Rosencratz

      You could get the same effect just by lifting the shadows imo.
      Not necessarily HDR.
      P.S/ HDR is a perfectly fine technique used properly.

  • OsFa Urbex

    Urbex = tresspassing not B&E. This is just a common story for urbexers.. Getting caught is eventually a part of the game. The suspended punishment is kind of harsh but hey… read the last lines: on to the next location ๐Ÿ˜€ that is the urbex mentality.

    Every Urbex-ers has some “battle stories” to tell after a few years of exploring. (Personal record: 1 drop through rotten floor, 1 bust @ gunpoint, 2 ripped pants, 4 neighbour busts)….

    For those who don’t explore and jump on the “moral … you are B&E” horse. You will never understand that even this story is a part of the urbex lure.

    tresspassing is not a crime… it’s a offence (according to dutch and belgium law)…

    • Wil Fry

      “trespassing is not a crime”

      I’m not sure how it’s classified in France (where the above occurred), and in fact the story doesn’t even say which specific crime/offense they were charged with.

      Here in the U.S. (at least in the several states in which I’ve lived), trespassing is a crime, though usually a misdemeanor. Fines are generally low (compared to the story above), however, and usually there is no jail time associated with the case (unless there are extenuating circumstances).

      • malingerer

        in many states within the grand ole US of A you can get shot ‘legally’ for trespassing… I’d be adverse to doing it there :(

        • OsFa Urbex

          That is why the urbex scene is larger in Europe compared to the us in my opinion… Smaller change of mortal encounters :)

  • J. Philip vanHeijkoop

    Usually there is a reason why these places are abandoned and fenced of. And if you break in (even just to take pictures) and something happens to you or the building because you fell through the floor or whatever the owner of the building can also get into a heap of trouble (besides the fun and joy of finding a corpse). It’s not that hard to track down the people who own/guard these places and ask them if you are allowed to take a look and take some pictures. They will then also tell you where not to go and might even show you some neat places you didn’t know were there.