On 11 September, loathsome lowlifes robbed San Francisco rental house Videofax of over $1,000,000 of equipment. The contemptible crims cut phone lines, capped a security camera, burrowed through a wall, and busted through a security gate before strolling off with stolen cameras and lenses.
These vile thieves previously attempted to boost gear from Koerner Camera in Portland and Chater Camera in Berkeley. Fortunately nothing was lost in those break-ins, though considerable property damage was done.
As Charlie Davidson of the PERG / ESTA Missing Equipment list says in an article at Film & Digital Times, “Equipment theft affects more than just rental companies. There is direct impact on production costs in terms of rental and insurance rates as well as potential downtime.” When you and I go to rent a camera, we pay more every time slimeballs successfully abscond with stolen gear.
How to help?
Keep an eye out for the missing gear, and report it if you find it. It might be on eBay, or craigslist, or for sale or rent anywhere in the world at suspiciously good prices (often stolen gear goes overseas, away from the scene of the crime). It’s easy: just put the serial number of anything you’re looking to rent or buy into the search field at the Missing Equipment website, and see if it comes up. If you get a hit, as I did when looking for the serial number of Videofax’s stolen Alexa Plus XT, you’ll see contact info for the owners, the cops, and the insurance, as well as a button to report a match through the website itself.
Do this for Videofax, and Koerner, and Chater, and every other rental house. Do it for yourself, and for the rest of us. Just make it a habit to check for stolen kit when renting or buying: every time we report and recover missing gear—or at least help track it down—we make stealing stuff a bit less attractive to the scum-sucking bottom-feeders who take it and the folks who traffic in it. We reduce wear and tear on the companies that spend the big, big bucks and take the big risks so that we have the tools to do our jobs. And we make it more likely those sweet lenses we plan to rent next week will actually be there when we need them.
For the full list of missing Videofax kit, go here and click on “View more items in this incident report”, and consider: all that stuff is suddenly not available to crews that expected to have it on gigs.
This sort of thing makes me angry.
Disclosure: You bet I have a dog in this race: I’ve rented stuff from Videofax and Chater in the past and both companies have let me spend hours in their facilities exploring equipment and how it works. Anything we can do to find this gear and bust the bastards who did this is time and effort well spent.