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.