Photojournalists Stripped of Gear at Gunpoint in Oakland

The New York Times reports an alarming trend in Oakland, California: the theft at gunpoint of expensive camera gear from photojournalists as they cover stories.

“In less than a year, every major television news station in the Bay Area has been a victim, some more than once. One experienced newspaper photographer has lost five cameras,” the Times story says.

The victims quoted in the story are mostly TV reporters, describing how they have had broadcast video cameras worth up to $50,000 stolen–in some cases while the cameras were rolling.

Still photographers are also victims. Laura Oda, chief photographer for The Oakland Tribune, describes how she was robbed of her cameras and other gear at gunpoint twice: once while photographing people painting a mural, and a second time at a busy intersection.

Oda avoided the streets for a while, then returned with a new rule: never stay in one place for more than five minutes, according to the Times.

The story raises a question: Is the problem isolated to Oakland, or is the brazen theft of camera gear a growing problem in other US cities? If you’ve experienced the problem, we’d like to hear from you.

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4 Responses to “Photojournalists Stripped of Gear at Gunpoint in Oakland”

  1. Everybody Says:

    Stop thinking what you’re thinking. Never mention race. This could be anybody. Okay, it may be what you’re thinking. But do you REALLY want to want to go there?

  2. Rohn Engh Says:

    Thieves go for the newest, fanciest car in the parking lot. Same for your camera gear. Pack it in a Thrift Sore camera bag(s).

  3. Cherry Says:

    If anything, this is an indication that times are getting tough. If thieves are taking bigger risks, it’s because the criminal economy is also tight. The tricky thing is to increase the risk to thieves, while not giving them more reason to just shoot you point blank.

  4. Sean Says:

    I’m am from Brooklyn, but last time I was in the Bay, I spent a couple days shooting in West Oakland. People were very open with me out there, especially people that would be labeled “criminal”, like gangsters, dealers, prostitutes and drug addicts in drug motels.
    I was thankful people were willing to let me shoot their worlds and they wanted me to represent them in an honest way.
    I believe the biggest issue is the economic struggles of working people combined with the intense gentrification that is happening in places like Oakland. I believe the majority of photographers are coming from generally, white, upper middle class environments and do not make an effort or show respect to working class communities like in Oakland.
    It makes so much sense, and not until we address economic inequality , and promote community relations between long time residents and newcomers, this will continue.