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Thread: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

  1. #1

    Default Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Hi people,

    Just want to share my horror experience in St Petersburg.

    On the last day of my holiday in St Petersburg, I decided to bring out my D700 and 70-200 to capture some close shots of the famous onion domes.

    On the way back to my hotel, my friends and I dropped by a pancake cafe for a quick bite. When I was exiting the cafe after the meal, I was forcibly stopped by two big guys pushing souvenirs into my face. Though I found it strange that people are peddling souvenirs in a cafe, it did not occur to me that something was amiss. Holding on to my D700 grip with my right hand, I pushed my way out of the cafe using my left hand to block them.

    Once out of the cafe, I looked down to check my camera, and of all horrors, found that my 70-200 was GONE! I turned back immediately but it was too late, they were already gone via the back door.

    This was a professional job, they didn't want the camera which was strapped around my neck, they were simply after the lense. They knew how to unscrew the lense quickly and they work in a team, you have no chance against them. They have done this many times and upon notifying my hotel, they told me that this kind of theft happens frequently!

    I was unable to make a police report owing to language difficulties and that I was flying out the next day (police report takes 3 days to process).

    Lesson learnt: Don't even think about bringing your big and expensive lenses out to Russia, I learnt it the hard way!

    Hope this serves as a warning for all photographers travelling to Russia.

    Cheers,
    TR

  2. #2
    Member enzeru21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    sorry for ur loss...

    just have to be more careful.. not only in russia but whenever u are traveling with a nice big cam n lens you are attracting more attention than normal aledy..
    enzeru21 Canon 500D |Tamron17-50mm f/2.8| Sigma30mm f/1.4 | 580EX II
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    This is quite common and there've been plenty of such threads on dpreview forums warning people to be careful when in Russia, or most European countries, especially in touristy areas.

    They're very skilled at removing lenses through misdirection, yes. But in a way, look at it from another angle and take it in good stride that at least you were "pickpocketed" and not mugged or held at gunpoint.. all of which are possibilities in St Petersburg....

  4. #4

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    similar thing happened to me in paris, at a subway station, 2 kids did the job... when i was traveling up the escalator, 1 kid came running towards me from the top, pushing a map in my face and asking me for directions, i took my hand out from my front trouser pocket (where i kept my wallet) to wave him away, and he just ran away w/o much trouble...i felt something amiss, next thing, when i reached for my wallet, i realized it was gone... another kid from behind probably came up to me quietly and took it out from my pocket..i guessed they have been observing me since i left the subway.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    this is not a good reason to not bring a camera overseas.

    sorry to hear about your experience, but such things happen, how we avoid them is to be very alert.

    when someone knocks into me, first thing i do is check my belongings, not try to escape them or say sorry. when there is a loud noise in the distance, i make sure all my things are accounted for and i try to be more aware of the things on me before i bother to find out what causes the noise.

    these are things that you will have to keep note of and remember to practise when it really happens. of course, being alert is not foolproof against getting robbed/mugged/pickpocketed, but criminals will target easier targets, not people who seem to know what's going on around them.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    for me i always keep the camera inside the bag when not in use. it may seem abit troublesome taking in and out.
    Canon 6D | Canon 450D + Grip | EF 28 F1.8 | EF 85 F1.8 | Nissin 866 Flash

  7. #7

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    So dishearting to hear of these incidents. Just got to be very alert or go in a group.
    Nikon glass, tools for the art

  8. #8

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Being in groups may not help as well... I would say NM's posting is the best to follow.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    my friend used to have this explanation why groups do not work. the first time i talked to him about it, i told him 2 is better, because if one disappear, the other can go for help.

    he say, siao... criminals can operate in groups. you bring one, they bring two. you bring two, they bring three. you bring 5, huat ar, they bring 7 to make sure all go ok.

    of course, that said, if you bring 100, i don't think they will want to do it gangs of new york style......

    btw, that is for disappearing... not for petty crimes. the best defense against petty crimes is to be alert, period.

  10. #10
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    my friend used to have this explanation why groups do not work. the first time i talked to him about it, i told him 2 is better, because if one disappear, the other can go for help.

    he say, siao... criminals can operate in groups. you bring one, they bring two. you bring two, they bring three. you bring 5, huat ar, they bring 7 to make sure all go ok.

    of course, that said, if you bring 100, i don't think they will want to do it gangs of new york style......

    btw, that is for disappearing... not for petty crimes. the best defense against petty crimes is to be alert, period.
    i lol at this...

    maybe stuff ur stuff in ur bag? dun ever take out unless ur shooting.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    lesson learnt:
    a) always buy travel insurance
    b) keep valuable items out of sight

  12. #12

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Thanks all for your comments, my intention was to highlight potential loss and not to discourage shooting with good lens when out travelling.

    I went on to shoot with my 50 f1.8 for the rest of the trip, it was fantastic still!

    Two points to add on:
    1) Travel insurance requires some sort of police loss report before you can make the claim. This is insanely difficult in Russia. I was advised but the insurance company to approach our friendly Singapore local police to obtain the loss report. Not sure if it works, but will definitely give it a try.
    2) Even keeping your lens in a backpack may not be the best insurance against theft. I had the opportunity to speak with some singaporeans in Moscow, and one of them had his bag of lens slit open from behind and everything stolen in a crowded place. So nothing is safe, no matter how alert you are, these are real pros. I thought I was an able traveller, having brought my kit to places like Tanzania and Kenya without problem, but these thieves certainly have a trick or two up their sleeves. You won't believe it till it happens to you.

    Cheers,
    TR

  13. #13

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Sorry for you lost. We just gotta be very alert when we travel cos we are so used to the peace and safety here in SG and very often we take things for granted My worst experience was also in Europe. Was living in Germany for about 2 yrs and we often go for wkend trips together in a bunch. Usually free and easy drive to different cities and countries. The most horrid happened in Luxembourg! We went in 4 cars and came back in 3, one of it returned without a side window

  14. #14

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Thanks for the heads up !

    Guess we have to learn to react immediately to grabbing and holding on to our lens instead of our camera which is quite securely strapped round our necks.

    Is there any way we can DOUBLE secure our lenses to the camera body ?

    I guess this can be done only by the camera manufacturer redesigning a double lock on the lens so that a twist would not remove it from the camera.

    sigh ...

  15. #15
    Member enzeru21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky78 View Post

    I guess this can be done only by the camera manufacturer redesigning a double lock on the lens so that a twist would not remove it from the camera.

    sigh ...
    then when you are doing photoshoot or event and you wanna change lens... then how? panic!

    cos need to change lens and then not enough hands.. not enough time... then panic drop lens then not enough $$ to repair~!
    enzeru21 Canon 500D |Tamron17-50mm f/2.8| Sigma30mm f/1.4 | 580EX II
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Maybe this is where a black rapid will come in useful as you secure the strap to the mount of your lens. It appears that plucking lens off the bod is a common crime nowadays. I heard the same when I am in China. Maybe now need to find a way to secure lens to bod.

    Travelling in groups will not help as Nightmare mentions. they work in bigger groups. My friends are travelling in group of 6 and still they get mugged. Staying alert will not help as they can strike anytime. I was in a grocery shop and felt a hand, other than mine, in my pocket. And seriously, even if you apprehend them red-handed, it is like split milk. You will still be inconvenienced. I spent one day being transferred from police station to station, brought back to crime scene, re-enact, and then brought back to police station again. In the end, I just gave up. The best is to keep a low profile. Bring less conspicious equipments. And travel light. Imagine you need to look after the lens in front, feel your pocket at the bottom, glance to your backpack at the back, carry your tripod in you left hand, then reach for the water bottle with your right....you get the picture.

    I tend to be more "ah beng" when overseas. I don't get too friendly or helpful. People walked into me, I push them away and shout out to gain attention. People lean on me, I push them away. People walk close to me, i keep a distance. I have seen enough...
    Last edited by ManWearPants; 26th September 2010 at 03:14 AM.

  17. #17
    Member tikiman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    On my second visit to st-peter, I had my 55-250 stolen. Someone distracted me in the front, and i felt a bump. next thing I know my bag was unzipped and the lens stolen. These people are fast.

    Agreed with darkone. Making a police report in russia is the worse thing to do for a theft-case. You may end up sitting in the police station for your whole holiday waiting for the report to be filled out, and that is the lucky part.

  18. #18
    Moderator diver-hloc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Sorry for your lost TS..... but consider yourself lucky.... as this is more of a theft, then a mugging. I agree with night86mare in that unless those you traveled with are skilled in fighting like 'Ip Man".... 2 or more buddies will be meaningless during a mugging. And even Ip Man will be quite useless if they are using GUNS.

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  19. #19

    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky78 View Post
    Thanks for the heads up !

    Guess we have to learn to react immediately to grabbing and holding on to our lens instead of our camera which is quite securely strapped round our necks.

    Is there any way we can DOUBLE secure our lenses to the camera body ?


    I guess this can be done only by the camera manufacturer redesigning a double lock on the lens so that a twist would not remove it from the camera.

    sigh ...
    I guess with long lenses that have tripod rings, you can tie a string or chain from that to your strap or strap eyelet on your camera.

    Any one with any ideas for lenses without tripod attachments but equally expensive such as 14-24mm or 24-70mm?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Russia: Photographers beware of theft!!

    Hi TS, sorry to hear about your misfortune and thank you for sharing with us. I am glad that you are safe and sound. I am sure you'll earn back the 70-200 in no time. Keep your head up and hope to see pics from your travels. Cheers!

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