Olympics photographer has $40,000 worth of gear stolen in 10 seconds from a cafe in Rio

Aug 5, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Olympics photographer has $40,000 worth of gear stolen in 10 seconds from a cafe in Rio

Aug 5, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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As this year’s host of the Olympic Games, it’s not a surprise that Rio currently contains so many photographers. With a lot of photographers come a lot of expensive kit. This has not escaped the notice of local criminals.

News Corp photographer Brett Costello just discovered this, when $40,000 worth of equipment went missing from right beside him. In a well planned and coordinated effort, it took only 10 seconds for his gear to vanish.

After having photographed Australian sailer Matthew Belcher, Brett went to a nearby cafe with colleagues. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Australia, Brett recalled the details of the incident.

I was ordering coffee, one of the journalists was at the front. I was with my camera gear beside me. All of a sudden, a woman came out and asked me a question.

I turned briefly this way, for probably ten seconds, and when I turned back I felt something was not quite right. My Think Tank camera bag with all my gear was gone.

At first he thought one of his colleagues had moved the bag or was keeping an eye on it elsewhere. After checking with the other photographers and journalists nearby, they realised it was missing. None of them had seen a thing.

brett_costello

He believes there was a crew of probably 4-5 people to have been able to do this. One to distract, one to drive, one to take, and one or two more to run interference with potential witnesses. Although the crime may have been opportunistic, the method seems well planned.

Brett told The Daily Telegraph that the police weren’t surprised. He also doesn’t hold much hope of ever seeing his gear again.

It’s one of those things we’ve just got to be so aware of and never take your eyes off your gear.

It’s a valuable lesson for all of us. No matter where we are or how much gear we’re carrying, we’re a potential target for thieves. Always be vigilant of your surroundings.

I make it a point to always keep my bags and equipment in my sight at all times if random people are nearby. Just knowing that somebody’s watching will often deter thieves. So, it’s become standard practise if I’m on my own.

You can watch Brett’s full interview on The Daily Telegraph Australia website.

I suppose on the positive side, it does demonstrate how well Think Tank Photo camera bags help you easily carry a lot of equipment.

Have you had equipment stolen while out shooting? What do you do to protect your gear and prevent theft? Let us know in the comments.

[ h/t Mitch ]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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38 responses to “Olympics photographer has $40,000 worth of gear stolen in 10 seconds from a cafe in Rio”

  1. Fernando Trujillo Avatar
    Fernando Trujillo

    I just spent 3 weeks in Tanzania Africa with about 35k Worth of gear in my bag, needless to say I was glued to the thing. Can’t rely on others with that much gear.

  2. Вергунов Сергей Avatar
    Вергунов Сергей

    This is not Sochi, folks…

  3. Gregg Bond Avatar
    Gregg Bond

    I hope he was sensible and kept the cards on his person, or proper backups. Photos are the most expensive part of any kit.

  4. Mike Randall Avatar
    Mike Randall

    And the games haven’t even started yet. Look for a lot more stories like this in the coming weeks. Rio is a dangerous place.

  5. Steve Roche Avatar
    Steve Roche

    Why have ALL your gear with you in a public place? You can’t possibly need all 40k worth of gear to shoot athletes in action or still shots of pollution in the water

    1. Mike Randall Avatar
      Mike Randall

      $40k is 2-4 pro cameras and 3+ lenses. Pretty standard kit for these guys.

    2. Steve Roche Avatar
      Steve Roche

      Mike Randall ok, I apparently underestimated the cost of a basic setup. Then again, I am satisfied with pics taken from my IPhone ?

    3. Claire Chennault Avatar
      Claire Chennault

      I dunno about this photographer or who supplies his kit, but a Getty Photographer is ‘issued’ $ 43 K worth of gear that weighs about 50 lbs. to shoot the Olympics.

    4. Shelly Lloyd Avatar
      Shelly Lloyd

      It may not have been all of his gear. There are some pretty expensive lenses out there.

  6. Damir Avatar
    Damir

    A very expensive lesson to always be alert and never let your gear out of your eye sight. I would assume that some professional photographer would have been more careful since they travel around a lot.

  7. Daniela Melamed Kilinsky Avatar
    Daniela Melamed Kilinsky

    Fernando Kilinsky

  8. Melissa Matejka Buckley Avatar
    Melissa Matejka Buckley

    Rio is horrible. Should know better

  9. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
    TheInconvenientRuth

    This is why I have a big PetzlPro carabiner on my camera bag strap. If I have to put my bag down, the strap gets clipped to my belt. Same with my cameras, they all have a carabiner on the strap (held in place with velcro and with a piece of plastic hose around it to avoid clanging into the camera/lens). Yes, I have full insurance, but replacing gear costs time and losing shots is even worse.

    1. Wing Wong Avatar
      Wing Wong

      I like the carabiner idea. I always keep one or more straps around my hand and keep smaller bags interlinked with the bigger roller bags. Basically, assume there is always a 3-5 person team on the prowl.

      1. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
        TheInconvenientRuth

        I should start a blog, I’ve been giving too much advice to people AFTER things went wrong lately :)

    2. Daris Fox Avatar
      Daris Fox

      I do something similar, I had gear stolen years ago in the same way, so I now have a chain/carabiner to prevent it leaving. I use a chain instead of a strap as they can’t use a knife.

    3. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      I work similarly, my bag is always either attached to my body via a strap or handle around my arm, leg, etc. Or its wrapped around a chair, railing, etc. Sure a dedicated thief could still get it, but they’ll think twice and probably go for a softer target.

      I guess I have my elementary school bully to thank since she used to regularly steal my bag and throw it off the bus until I started doing this.

  10. SooYoung So Avatar
    SooYoung So

    In spite of a plenty of publicity and warning about such…..

  11. David Burko Avatar
    David Burko

    omg…i had a panic attack just reading the headline

  12. Duane Emmerson Avatar
    Duane Emmerson

    With what is going on in the world, I think holding the Olympics was a bad idea. I just hope I’m wrong, and they won’t be defined by terrorism. Rio was a bad decision, the country was ill prepared to take on this task, The games benifit the rich at the cost of the poor. Disease, the potential of Zika, and pollution should have been red flags to the organisers, yet money talks. Corruption, greed and exploitation have been the only winners. Let’s hope that medals are the only thing or team brings home.

    1. Lissa Torres Lara Avatar
      Lissa Torres Lara

      I t was stupid having them for the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics ,the goverment wasted a lot of money . They should have only had one event

  13. Alex Esguerra Avatar
    Alex Esguerra

    In a blink of an eye. It happens THAT fast!

  14. Colin Willis Avatar
    Colin Willis

    Brazil does have the world’s second highest crime rate in the world!

    1. Ramón Enrique Méndez Yáñez Avatar
      Ramón Enrique Méndez Yáñez

      Venezuela have the first

  15. Paul Redding Avatar
    Paul Redding

    Really why am i suprised, i think the last 3 or 4 F1s held there has seen numerous photographers robbed of gear, but the wonderful people in charge still insist on holding the large events in dodgy countries.

  16. Britt Thomas Avatar
    Britt Thomas

    I was always taught to keep zippers locked and a strap around an extremity at all times when traveling. We get a little too comfortable sometimes and forget about the thieves.

  17. Shelly Lloyd Avatar
    Shelly Lloyd

    I hope he had them insured for theft.

  18. Paula Meyer Quick Avatar
    Paula Meyer Quick

    This sucks. So sorry, dude.

  19. Yomismo Avatar
    Yomismo

    noobie!!

  20. Stormy Llama Avatar
    Stormy Llama

    One word, insurance. Do you have it. XD

  21. Jefferson L. Morriss Avatar
    Jefferson L. Morriss

    Ha. That’s Rio.

  22. Andy Faulk Avatar
    Andy Faulk

    brutal.

  23. Charlie Muller Avatar
    Charlie Muller

    Insurance- probably the business was folding but needed an excuse…

  24. Salim Çallı Avatar
    Salim Çallı

    Welcome to Rio!

  25. Peter Armstrong Avatar
    Peter Armstrong

    Phil

  26. St Ooges Avatar
    St Ooges

    The thief was arrested. He’s from Peru.

  27. Jack Wolf Avatar