Prominent YouTuber Robbed of $16,000 Worth of Camera Gear

It is one of a photographer's worst nightmares: traveling around in a different country carrying thousands of dollars' worth of camera gear, only to see it disappear before your very eyes. Manny Ortiz was traveling through Italy when, unfortunately, he was robbed of some very expensive gear. Check out his story here.

Many photographers believe this will not happen to them, but sadly, in some places, this is becoming very common. Looking at places such as San Francisco, it has become almost the norm to hear of a photographer having their prized gear taken from them, sometimes even at gunpoint.

Ortiz considers himself to be a hypervigilant person and even kept his camera bag within his eyesight on a train journey in the beautiful country of Italy.

On his way to Venice, Ortiz started noticing some strange behavior from one person on board the train. This person kept staring at Ortiz, leaving Ortiz perplexed as to what was going on and why on earth this person was continually checking him out. At the next stop, some more passengers boarded the train, and the person staring at Ortiz was gone.

Looking out of the window, Ortiz spotted the person still staring at him but from outside the train. The man, seemingly on the phone, was still very much on the scene. This is when Ortiz noticed that his camera bag had now disappeared.

A panic ensues, and Ortiz is left needing to speak to train staff to try and locate his bag in case it had been picked up by another passenger in error. Ortiz searches the train high and low for his bag and even meets another passenger who had their bag stolen the previous week.

Apparently, this is becoming a very common issue in Italy, and even reading through the YouTube comments, Ortiz is not alone!

Thankfully, Ortiz had sufficient insurance, so he was able to claim back most of his gear, but I am sure, like many in that situation, it will leave you with a horrible feeling after going through such a traumatic experience.

I wrote an article previously about eight tips for preventing camera theft, and I hope this will help you all.

Have you been a victim of camera theft? Did you get your gear back or were you insured? Let us know in the comments below.

Greg Sheard's picture

Greg Sheard is a Scottish based photographer, focusing on wildlife, landscape and portrait work. Greg's mission in life is too help those who suffer with mental health issues and be a voice for the millions of people around the world who need that care, attention and awareness.

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Any train, any country; the photo stuff is not left in the baggage area near the doors. It goes with you to your seat.

I'd agree to that, if travelling on public transport with camera gear I keep it next to my feet.

Richard said it perfectly. One more tip: when I fly I put my camera bag in an overhead bin across and slightly forward of my seat so I can keep an eye on it. Never let it out of your possession.

I chain my bag to my body (with some pacsafe stuff intended to lock a bag to a tree) - and locks on all zippers. But even then they can cut the bag into pieces with a sharp knife (Rome has some gangs doing this).
Both times i got stolen material in Belgium (not as badly as the 16000$ - it was still in total around 2300€'s though) - it was in a station or on the train. Public transport is a dangerous spot. But even when you have lunch - you have to watch out. Antwerp - Berchem - the route between stations in Brussels and the line Kortrijk-Bruges are all dangerous places. We don't talk about Liege, or even worse Charleroi.
The system i use isn't even removed when i have to go to the bathroom - my stuff stays chained to me.
I started with chains, but that was to visible (and the car dealers on the car-show in Brussels didn't like that view of a member of a motor gang...). ;-)

An alarm is another line of defense - so you're able to follow your bag.

And trackers are a last resort. Not the solution.

It is sad that we have to go to such lengths to protect our gear around the world. Hopefully camera manufacturers stand up and take notice, and start adding something to the cameras to protect them in case they are stolen. No matter, what is done or what we do, always have insurance at the bare minimum.

I don't trust any camera manufacturer to create a reliable software solution (like find-my-iphone or authentication) for this. Insurance is the only answer.

Probably not in the near future no, but maybe one day. At the moment, some of the manufacturers can't even get their apps right for phone connectivity.

Train passenger robbery has been a lucrative profession in Italy for decades. Conductors don't care or are complicit. If someone acts remotely "off", get in their face and scare the f- out of them.

The classic game is would-be thieves open random compartments asking for the time. You roll up your sleeve showing off your expense watch which will you will soon be relieved of.

That certainly seems the case from other reports about Italy being bad for this type of crime

Unbearable for some, but don't look like money and don't use the fashionable big brand camera bags. Scruff up a bit. Even high fashion brand clothing or sunglasses increases the chances you have something interesting to pinch.

I have a pacsafe camera sling that's slashproof, zippers have a mechanism that they lock without needing padlocks and the strap has this mechanism too so it can be attached to a solid object securely. Locks can of course be added. Someone who really wants it and uses force or threats of violence will not be deterred, but opportunistic bag snatchers, pickpockets and bag slashers are deterred. That will take an apsc, a couple of fast lenses, water, essentials. But for more personal items or gear I do have back panel opening bag (+1 for security) buy quick side access - and I'm very conscious about that. Unfortunately 2 years on it still looks shiny and a bit fancy. The little bag will come to Paris with me!

And be conscious of your surroundings. There's a time and a place to be reviewing your photos or updating settings. It's not at restaurants in touristy areas or on public transport.

On an overnight bus in India, I slept spooning my rucksack, which was padlocked and tied to a part of the bed and me. When I was ready to leave at 5am in the middle of nowhere I realised my shoes had been stolen. Just accept there will always be arseholes and be adequately insured!

Spot on advice and a defo +1 for a back panel opening bag.

Actually this is theft, not robbery, two different crimes.

You're right

Or carelessness depending on your perspective.

An insurance company would take any opportunity to claim so and to point to their policy of not refunding for unattended luggage.

Camera gear with you at all times - why I hate camping with camera gear where the only safe place for it is a vehicle for when you are doing a beach day or anything where you can't take your bag. But at least that's covered by insurance. If you've only got one bag, camera cube that can be lifted out and kept with you.

No perfect solution, but no need to help the thieves, or their suited equivalents in the claims department of your insurer.

Similar situation in Bangkok, long story short were Gypsies working in tandem. They are smooth and invisible. Could have been $$$, but I am the most aware of my surroundings when going from Point A to B.
They were trying to distract me while walking on a busy sidewalk... Moved my bag to my chest, problem solved.

I'm glad you managed to prevent that situation in Bangkok! Good thinking moving your bag!