March 7th, 2013

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.