We got hit with theft yesterday at DVinfo.net

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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:51 AM   #1
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We got hit with theft yesterday

I've commented on this topic before, but I think it's good to bring it up again once in awhile as a reminder to everyone. It took all of 15 seconds for someone to snatch 2 cases while our backs were turned. It happened right before the ceremony, and they made off with our wireless audio, 3 iRiver recorders, and a small B-cam.

I'm a pretty meticulous planner, so I've definitely thought of such a scenario before - but still, there were some anxious moments. My strategy is to make sure our main and backup equipment is never stored all in one case, and ideally is also split between two people. They took our entire main audio package, but I had 2 more iRivers with me which really saved the day. I also had doubles of the connecting cables, which came into play as we had to tap into a mixer board.

Although the shoot went on without any real hitches, it definitely put a hamper on the rest of the day. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge monetary loss, but that moment when you realize you've been hit and have to figure out how to keep shooting the rest of the day - that's just a horrible feeling.

So again, here are some things you can do to minimize your risk:

- Always keep your main cam with you. Even if everything else is gone, you can still (sort of) do your job the rest of the day. This is usually the case since we're shooting with the main cam anyways, so I think the bigger problem for us is with all the accessories we have for video.

- Keep tapes on you, especially ones that you've shot! It doesn't hurt to have a couple of big batteries in your pocket/pouch either.

- Think about your backup strategy. If a case gets stolen; if a car gets stolen...can the show go on?

- From now on, I'll have a 15-ft steel cable looped through all of our bags and cases. Thieves look for something quick and easy to snatch. They're less likely to open up cases and actually look through them.

- The most dangerous part is when you first arrive or when you leave a venue. That's when we usually have to make a couple of trips to load in or out. If you're by yourself, get a big trolley and do it all in one trip. If you have an assistant, have them watch over the gear. The problem here is with tight wedding schedules, we never have that luxury of time. By the time we get to a venue, we're thinking about shooting establishing shots, setting up audio, etc. Give yourself as much time as possible to settle in at each location.

- At the reception, make friends with the DJ right away and store your gear there.

- Oh, and if you haven't already done so, go and jot down the serial numbers of ALL your stuff now! I thought I had done this, but I actually didn't have it for small items like the iRivers.

That's it for now. I need to forget about this day and get some sleep!
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Old July 20th, 2008, 05:08 AM   #2
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Yeah, a dreadful scenario and great advice. The hardest thing is to keep looking confident on the job you're booked for. Did you have insurance?

Sleep tight mate, everything will be on an upward path from tomorrow.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 05:38 AM   #3
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I do know the feeling and absolutely hate it.


Without serials. you are a bit beat.

With a bit of luck, the thieving breeds will themselves be mugged and the stuff taken from them.

Or perhaps this scenario. "Gee -----, those things are cool, just like the ones the wedding guy was using, so they must be good. Where did you get them from?"

Last edited by Bob Hart; July 20th, 2008 at 05:42 AM. Reason: error
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Old July 20th, 2008, 06:09 AM   #4
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That's my worst nightmare and even if it's a minor part they took, just the idea of someone steeling from me makes me sick.
I always carry a backpack with my b-cam and I only take it off once the ceremony starts, think the biggest risk is as you said when you're taking all your stuff in, the only thing they I have to leave unattended is my tripod, one iriver (the other one is already on the groom) and my zoom H4 because that's the first I set up before I go out to make the creative shots and to wait outside for the couple to arrive. But all the time my backpack is on me, once the ceremony starts I take it of and put it next to my tripod.
My pants that has extra pockets on the side just above my knees, there I keep my irivers, spare battery and cassettes which stay in there untill they are needed. My Zoom h4 is also in my backpack.
Only at the reception I ask for a safe place to store the camera, usually at the DJ but I think the risk of it getting stolen at the evening reception is a lot less, I have heared more then one story of equipment getting stolen during the ceremony so that's the place you need to take most care.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 12:12 PM   #5
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Really sorry to hear about this, Eric. I've become more and more paranoid over the past year because of all of the theft stories I keep hearing about. I appreciate you sharing your story and having the stomach to stop and give the rest of us some tips. That was classy of you.

I just upgrade my camera cases this summer from smaller 5lb cases to larger 20lb cases, and they have locks on them now as well. Still, your idea for a simple cable lock is brilliant, because the other locks could be cut off later and thieves know that. But spotting 2 large 20lb cases that are attached with a steel cable would certainly make getting off with the cases unnoticed quite a feat. Thanks for the tip. I imagine a steel cable lock is dirt cheap too.

Thanks again, and sorry for your experience.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #6
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This is my 20th year in the bussiness, and I have never got anything stolen from me. My advise is that you hire some teen (15-18 y/o) as a cable-puller or "assistant" and make his job to keep an eye on your gear all night long. Also, when going home, the extra pair of hands will make carrying the stuff to your car quicker.

My two cents

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Old July 20th, 2008, 06:59 PM   #7
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UGH! Sorry to hear that! Thanks for all the good tips!
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Old July 20th, 2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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I had some stuff stolen in 2003 which was tons of fun to deal with, but I could still function as I have backups of backups. All the while, though, my main camera is always with me, wherever I go, and is never put down anywhere. In addition, I have a beltpack setup that has everything I need to function so if everything else was taken, I can still film the rest of the event with very little problems, if any at all.

I do have an assistant on some occasions simply to watch over my equipment, and do have locks, cables, alarms, etc as well. I posted on another forum, and won't get into details, but recently got the 'a-ok' so to speak, for a device that tracks stolen property, like a camera case, that relies on celphone tracking, gps, and several other features...but that's another story for another time.

Anyway, good luck with everything and I hope it got covered by insurance.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 02:06 AM   #9
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Oh man! That sucks! Glad to hear you were still able to capture the day.

Thanks for posting this - it's a good reminder/warning.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 09:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Gan View Post

- Oh, and if you haven't already done so, go and jot down the serial numbers of ALL your stuff now! I thought I had done this, but I actually didn't have it for small items like the iRivers.

That's it for now. I need to forget about this day and get some sleep!
Hey Eric,

I have that cable thing that I carry with me, I also went to home depot and got a 4 lock set which has all the same key. I also have marked down all the serials for my stuff which I have, and have some neat lables from http://www.mavericklabel.com/ which are helpful. I got the indistructable ones. Like Travis, we've been more paranoid now. We try to stage from the truck and keep as little out in the open as possible. Sometimes, you just can't help it. But thanks for the reminder.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 12:53 PM   #11
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I'm glad you mentioned keeping shot tapes on your person Eric, as this is the one irreplaceable thing at a shoot. I like to wear smart clothes at events so can't have big pockets in my trousers, but I do wear an 'ammunition belt' that holds shot and new tapes, my wide converter, business cards, radio mic (sender) and a spare battery.

But in reality we have to trust people, it's as simple as that. I had my Minidisc recorder lifted from the top table once (losing my back-up audio but leaving the mic and stand). But being a one-man, two-camera shooter means I have radio mics and kit bags scattered about and I can't be everywhere.

tom.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 03:53 PM   #12
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Eric,

I'm sad to hear about what happend but glad to hear you are looking on the bright side of things and gave us all some great preventative suggestions to help us all out.

I for one will defaintely will take your advice.

Talk to you (hopefully in person) real soon.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:49 PM   #13
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Eric,

Your preparation saved the day, and makes me worry about the same thing. I wouldn't get off nearly as lightly as you.

Thanks for the great tips, and sorry you had to deal with this.

Does anyone have a suggestion for something to wear as Tom describes ('ammunition belt')? I would love to find something that doesn't look like the classic fanny pack, which I find just gets in the way.

Hope they find the low-life idiots who robbed you...
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 10:34 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=Vito DeFilippo;910718]Eric,

Does anyone have a suggestion for something to wear as Tom describes ('ammunition belt')? I would love to find something that doesn't look like the classic fanny pack, which I find just gets in the way.
QUOTE]


I use the 97-cent packs from Walmart to hold headphones, phone, etc., and Tamrac belt packs for everything else - cheap and extremely sturdy. Highly recommend them.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 01:43 AM   #15
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The venue is specifically built for weddings - in the middle of a park. It's really busy every weekend with multiple weddings per day. Easy target for the thieves. I feel like going back there and baiting them with a shiny case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshall Levy View Post
I do have an assistant on some occasions simply to watch over my equipment, and do have locks, cables, alarms, etc as well. I posted on another forum, and won't get into details, but recently got the 'a-ok' so to speak, for a device that tracks stolen property, like a camera case, that relies on celphone tracking, gps, and several other features...but that's another story for another time.
Marshall, I've thought about an asset tracking business idea for years now - basically it's inexpensive lo-jack for the masses. The idea is a tracking dot that calls up periodically and asks, "am I stolen?" If yes, turn on GPS and start reporting location. Charge $50/dot and maybe a yearly fee. I'll buy at least a couple dozen. The hurdles are battery life, size of tracker, and the cost of network connection. Somebody buy that wireless spectrum for this please!

Actually, I think this is totally easy to do with an iPhone. I'm sure someone is already writing a tracking app - although it will probably be used more by stalkers.

I'm not sure about alarms though. I can't imagine a 100dB alarm accidentally going off in the middle of a ceremony and having to take responsibility for that. Ugh!

Keep your eyes open out there! One incident can really hurt a small business, which describes a lot of us here.

Cheers,
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