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|| News Item: Posted 2002-03-30

Road Warrior: Don't Get Ripped Off!
By Mongo

Photo by
Evil lurks everywhere!

Courtside at basketball, under the stands at hockey, the deadline press room of an awards ceremony --- even in your own newspaper.

Scum sucking, low-lifes, stealing your cameras, lenses and laptops.

For years, we believed in the sanctity of the working pressroom. That we could leave our gear under a table and go grab a bite to eat, or it's halftime and you gotta pee, everybody has their gear piled up in the end zone.

We subscribe to the logic that "hey there's all this other shiny new gear here, why would anybody want mine?" Or maybe you believe that the "other" photographers will watch your gear.

Hell, it could be another photographer, a fellow student, or an organized crew that rips you off, but the results are always the same.


There are few things in life as uncomfortable as explaining to your boss, how you got a lens, body, or computer ripped off, while you were getting stat sheets for the 3rd period (actually you were hitting on a hot chick you spied in the stands).

For piece of mind, we've got to get proactive (no you idiot, not the zit cream). You've got to start locking your stuff up.

There are cable locks for laptops, but that won't protect your camera gear. Portable motion detectors? Nope --- they're too prone to false alarms.

What we need is an all in one, simple solution.


PAC SAFE is a metal mesh net bag (think of the bag you get grapes in) that you can put your camera bag in and lock to a table, chair or railing. It features a cable cinch loop that lets you expand or contract the bag to fit a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from a laptop computer, to a full size Lightware pack.

It packs down to the size of a small paperback and comes with it's own carry sack.

Mongo likes the Pac Safe Explorer series:
Product Model # Small 1090
Max Dimensions 22 x 14 x 8 in
Folds to including padlock 5.5 x 4 x 2 in

Available at or any good luggage store.


If you don't have them written down, DO IT NOW!!!

No I really mean it, right now!

Go get your business card and write the camera, lens and computer serial numbers on the back of the card, then stash it in your wallet or purse.

This accomplishes several things:
If you get ripped off, you can supply the cops with the numbers for a police report, the quicker you get the report, the quicker you file an insurance claim.
In some states the numbers are entered into a database and checked by pawnshops for stolen goods status. (Are they hot?)
If your gear is recovered, how do you ID it? That's right, your handy little card.

I know what you're thinking, "can't they just grind off the serial numbers?"

Yes, but then the item screams out stolen goods, and the cops can recover the serial numbers by doing an acid etch lift.

(If you watched "Quincy" reruns or "CSI" you'd know this already!)


If you're leaving your gear, even for a minute, make sure a colleague is aware (and I mean REALLY knows) that you've left your stuff near them. This isn't foolproof as an unnamed shooter for a large Southern California metro can attest to. (Ok, ok it's the LA Times!)

At a recent political event, a photographer left his gear near another Times shooter who was double-teamed a person distracted her while an accomplice made off with two new digital cameras and zoom lenses. This happened as fast as he could say : "S**T! I'll be shooting Dog of the Week with 8008s from now on!"

At the recent Winter Olympic Games, a careless photog left a borrowed 1D near an area in the press tribune at the ice hockey venue that was essentially unattended. He mistakenly thought he could leave his gear "just for a minute" while he returned to his shooting spot to get the rest of his stuff. You bet, it was gone (along with a 70-200) in a flash.

The moral of the story here is: you snooze you lose! Don't brain-lock and leave your equipment unless you are sure it's being watched by a friendly.

(Mongo Johnson, a former grip on such TV hits as "Hart to Hart", "Hollywood Squares", "The Dukes of Hazard" and "Petticoat Junction" now works as a security consultant to *NSYNCH.)


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