Unfortunately, stolen camera gear stories don’t always include a happy ending. However, thanks to well-placed Apple AirTags and good fortune, Australian Graham Tait was reunited with all roughly $10,000 worth of stolen property, including his camera.
Tait, a Sydney resident, was vacationing in southern Australia when a thief broke into Tait’s car while parked at a hotel. The offender made off with Tait’s laptop bag and camera, among other possessions like Tait’s wallet. Alongside his Sony RX10 all-in-one superzoom camera, Tait’s GoPro was also stolen.
In many cases, when something like this happens, the best outcome you can hope for is that a thief tries to sell your equipment to a reputable store, and the authorities can recover most, or all, of the stolen property. Sometimes people aren’t so lucky. Stolen goods often have a way of disappearing, never to be seen again.
Graham Tait had attached Apple AirTags directly to his camera and laptop bag. The AirTag was hanging off the strap on his Sony RX10 in plain sight. The thief must not have realized what it was because the coin-sized device led authorities directly to the stolen goods.
An AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal to nearby devices on Apple’s Find My network, including hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads and Macs. Tait was able to narrow down the location of his items because his AirTags, still attached, were pinging nearby Apple devices. Perhaps even the thief themselves had an iPhone in their pocket, unwittingly helping their victim track them down.
Once Tait had located his laptop and camera on the Find My app on his iPhone, he contacted the authorities, who recovered Tait’s possessions and are now dealing with the alleged perpetrator. Thanks to a couple of AirTags, which start at $29 each or $99 for a 4-pack, authorities recovered $10,000 in property. The AirTag isn’t foolproof anti-theft technology, and some people are even using AirTags to aid crime, but in this instance, AirTags were extremely beneficial.
|Apple’s Find My app with AirTag’d items displayed.|
Graham Tait’s experience with theft has a happy ending, but often, the outcome is worse. If you’re worried about someone stealing your camera gear, beyond putting tracking devices on your gear, you can take some other helpful steps. You hope the unthinkable never happens to you, but it could. It’s best to be prepared. If you’re a professional photographer, make sure that you have business insurance that covers stolen property, no matter from where it’s stolen. Whether you’re a pro or hobbyist, write down the serial numbers of all your gear, record photo evidence of your equipment and keep all receipts. These are important when helping authorities track down stolen equipment. Your serial number can help you find stolen equipment sold online at places like eBay.
Don’t leave memory cards with important photos and videos in your camera for longer than you need to. Try not to leave any unattended gear in your car. If you do leave your gear in your car, cover it up. Unfortunately, you even need to worry about being inconspicuous with your equipment when out in public, especially in areas frequented by tourists. These locations are prime targets for thieves, and as soon as someone catches wind of high-end camera equipment, you may become a target.