On my recent trip to California I wrote a little about a number of incidents that I had became aware of where photographers, film makers and tourists became victims of crime where there equipment and valuables. These sorts of incidents can range in intensity, at best they are a minor annoyance, at worst they can and do lead to serious injury and even death.

There is an irony then, in the fact that I too was targeted on the last few days of my trip. Taken unawares from behind, a man snatched at my camera that was on my shoulder and attempted to run off with it. I hung onto it for a while and we had a bit of tug of war, but as I'd been taken unawares I never managed to fully gain my balance and was eventually pulled over to the ground. The camera we were fighting over sailed through the air and hit the ground with a nasty crunch. My assailant also fell over but was up faster than me, grabbing the camera from the ground and running away at considerable pace.


There were no witnesses, despite this taking place on a public street in San Francisco, in the middle of the afternoon, there was no one around. The police arrived quickly, but there was little that could be done. My injuries were fairly minor, cut arms and hands where I had hit the ground and a very sore neck and shoulders that are still not entirely right now, but will be fine, eventually.

The sad thing is, one of my new Nikon D810 cameras was probably damaged beyond repair. What a waste. The top of the camera obviously took a real bash, and the eye piece cover was torn off. Attached to the camera was my much loved and well used Nikon 80-200 F2.8 lens that I bought way back in 1995 and has done brilliant service ever since. It had a relatively low value as it was so old, but it's cost quite a bit to replace it with an admittedly upgraded modern day version with vibration reduction. The lens hood of this lens was also shattered and torn from the lens when it hit the ground, but I suspect the breaking of the lens hood would have protected the lens and it's probably still working reasonably well somewhere, it was a tough bit of equipment.

All in all, a troubling moment, but it could have been a lot worse. I'm fine, and pretty much over this event now, but will definitely think twice about what equipment I take out on the streets for general travel work from now on. There are some parts of the world where the rewards just do not justify the risks these days.

Cause for concern

This really isn't what one wants to read just after arriving in a new city. I'm not normally too worried about local crime reports, but this seems like a cameraman was deliberately targeted in a popular tourist area. I'm taking steps to reduce the visibility of my camera gear.