Photographer Fights To Get His Stolen Camera Gear off eBay

There's nothing worse for a photographer than having their gear stolen. The question is, what can you do if you find your precious items being resold on eBay?

Accumulating all the equipment you need to be a photographer can be a long and expensive process. I know that I have spent many years fine-tuning the contents of my studio to allow me to make the kind of pictures that I do. This is why the story of photographer Mike Lane having his car stolen while it contained some of his photo gear really hit home for me.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and Lane finds one of his stolen tripods on eBay, with pictures showing the item is unquestionably his. The video goes on to show his troubles with eBay in trying to get his tripod back and that the online auction site was not the most helpful to the photographer.

On this occasion, there is a happy ending, but that is only down to Lane's clever detective work and a lot of communicating with eBay, the seller, and the police. I'm not sure many other photographers would be so lucky, but his methods may be worth trying if all else fails. This video is a sobering reminder that losing your gear should be avoided at all costs, as the chance of getting your stuff back is very slim. If you don't already, I would consider marking your kit with UV security pens so they can be identified if found by the police, investing in some trackers like the Apple AirTags, and most definitely having proper insurance so that if the worst were to happen, you could get back up to speed in no time.

Have you ever had any experience with trying to get stolen gear back? What do you have in place to help minimize theft of your kit? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.   

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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Poor Mike! I've enjoyed many of his wildlife images over the years but didn't hear about this until now. I'll have to give it a watch

Glad he got it resolved. Which UV pen?

Photographers shouldn't be such profitable targets for crime; it's time for cameras to have anti-theft features. Thieves can't so easily steal and sell your phone because you might track it and they couldn't login anyway. They'd have to sell it for parts, which is far less profitable.

Because manufacturers refuse to give us the option of using basic anti-theft features, we remain targets.

On my Sonys, there's an "Internal SN" that is written in the meta data of the image. No--it's NOT the same as the one on the camera body, but with some online tools, you can pull the data out of any image file. I made a point of this after I had a NEX 5n stolen out of my vehicle (along with some other gear and tools) with the thought that maybe I could do a Google search for that data one day if another camera was stolen. Foolproof? No, but it's at least something...