I am going to start this post with a disclaimer: I am not being compensated by LensTag in any way, shape or form.
Last night at around 11pm, I was indulging in a bad habit outside of my apartment complex. I noticed a few of my neighbors congregating around the side entry to my building’s parking garage. They seemed upset, so I asked what the situation was. It turns out someone had entered our private garage (situated underneath our building like most apartments in LA) and had broken into two vehicles. Almost everything had been stolen: a tricked out iPad, expensive jewelry, leather jackets… even a toy that was meant to be donated to charity. The general consensus was that the robber intended to hit each car in the garage, but must have been spooked by an opening gate.
One of victims was a family whom had just returned from Michigan after (like many of us, myself included) spending hours in and out of the airport due to Winter Storm Hercules. Weary from travel, they decided to rest upon arrival and unpack the car the following day. They followed logic which in theory makes total sense: you park in a locked structure, your shit should be okay for the night. Unfortunately, all it takes is a side door that doesn’t lock fully to turn your world upside down.
So what’s the deal? As photographers, we occasionally store our gear in our vehicles… I tend to hide mine under a jacket or something. Usually only for a few minutes… but that’s really all it takes (see Gone In 60 Seconds). During my Christmas vacation I read an article on fStoppers about LensTag. Previously solely web-based, the company developed an iPhone app for the purpose of tagging serial numbers to your equipment. The owner enters the serial number into the app, and the gear is only verified once an approved photo of the actual serial number is attached to the entry. In the unfortunate case something is lost or stolen, you can report the gear as stolen using the unique serial number assigned by the manufacturer. Not only does LensTag allow you to tag cameras and lenses, but also computer equipment, hard drives, etc… anything expensive that, if lost, can be detrimental to your business. Additionally, if and when you sell or transfer your gear, there is an option to do so within the app.
Unfortunately, LensTag does not double as a Private Investigator and the probability you will see your gear again is low. But it definitely helps–LensTag keeps a running list (located here) of the serial numbers of gear reported stolen. That way, if it pops up on eBay (et. al.), you have documentation that you are the rightful owner.
Right after I started writing this post, a horror story popped up on Reddit from Evgeny Tchebotarev (co-founder of revered 500px) who had $10,000 worth of gear stolen the day after Christmas. It’s real, guys. Theft is real.