Ignoring a potential problem can be expensive, such as the theft of your camera equipment. If you’re passionate about your photography, then you should be just as passionate, and proactive, about protecting your equipment in your home or photography business location, and making it less inviting to burglars.
Obviously, your equipment should be insured, but make sure your insurance protection covers the equipment completely. The term to be aware of is "Replacement Cost Value". Most policies provide "Actual Cash Value" which takes into account depreciation. Replacement Cost Value does not.
Prepare a list of your equipment including make/model, serial numbers and what the item would cost to replace. Give a copy to your insurance company/agent and keep a printed and digital copy at another location. Update the list with all your new photography gear including accessories as you acquire them.
Buy an inexpensive electric engraving stylus and give each piece of equipment a unique ID number, or some personal reference information. Your local police department can advise you. You may be one of those photographers that are squeamish about “defacing” your equipment. Would you rather have an engraved ID number at an inconspicuous location on your equipment or never see it again?
Take a series of pictures of each piece you engrave. One photo should be a close-up of the engraved area, so the information can be read. You can also record a video of your equipment, showing it from various angles. Again, give copies to your insurance agent and store another copy at a site where your equipment is never kept.
As mentioned briefly above, deterring burglars and forcing them to spend too much time in your home or place of business is one of the best strategies. You should never leave equipment on tables or in plain sight overnight or if you will be gone for an extended period of time. This includes lighting equipment that may cause burglars to think there is an expensive camera to snatch.
Many homes and offices have a security system and service. It’s general protection you should have for your home or place of business. The service will alert police immediately and the alarm often scares burglars into leaving early. You may want to install a dedicated, but hidden, security camera where it can record a view of the area where you store your equipment.
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Your first smart move is to think like a burglar. Many law enforcement organizations and experts agree that, on average, burglars will only spend 8 minutes in your home or office looking for items to steal. They want to be in and out quickly. Plus, they are more likely to spend most of that time looking for smaller valuables, like jewelry and cash.
This is good news for photographers because burglars don’t want to be carrying cameras and equipment bags on the outside of their person, where it is conspicuous. Jewelry and cash fit in pockets. With this information in mind, your primary security strategy is to make it difficult for burglars to find your equipment. Even if they find the locked closet or padlocked case where you keep your equipment, they won’t want to spend much time trying to open it.
One solution is to use a locked file cabinet that doesn’t necessarily look like a place where photography equipment is stored. You could even label the cabinet or drawers with fake titles: Office Supplies, Tax Information, Correspondence, etc.
Consider a strongly built footlocker with double locks. Hide it in a closet behind clothing or boxes, and even bolt it to the floor.
Another securely built type of locker is a gun cabinet or closet. Some companies that specialize in these recommend them specifically for photography equipment.
If you are a DIY person, then you could build a false wall in the back of a closet with a hidden opening and locking mechanism.
Image credit: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo
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