7 Easy Ways To Protect Cameras, Lights and Photography Equipment
1. Hide It – 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 photography equipment in your home or studio location, and making it less inviting to burglars.
One way 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 carry cameras and photo equipment bags in plain sight where it’s conspicuous. Jewelry and cash fit in pockets where they are easy to conceal. With this in mind, your primary security strategy is to make it difficult for burglars to find or carry your photography 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.
2. Insure It – Obviously, your photo equipment should be insured, but make sure your insurance protection covers the equipment completely. The type of coverage you want is “Replacement Cost Value”. Most policies provide “Actual Cash Value” which takes into account depreciation and only pays out the depreciated value of your equipment. Replacement Cost Value pays out whatever it costs to replace your camera equipment so you can get back in business with the least amount of interruption.
3. Inventory – Prepare a list of your photography equipment including make/model, serial numbers and what the item would cost to replace. There are many templates and web sites available to help with this but a simple excel spreadsheet will do. Give a copy to your insurance company/agent and keep a printed and digital copy at another location. Update the list as you acquire new photography equipment including accessories. Adding photos of each piece of equipment really helps with insurance claims.
4. Engrave It – 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 and may even do this for you for a small fee. 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?
5. Photograph/Video It – Take a series of pictures of each piece you inventory or 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 off-site.
6. Hide & Lock It – As mentioned briefly above, deterring burglars by forcing them to spend extra time looking for valuables in your home or photography studio is one of the best strategies for protection. You should never leave equipment in plain sight overnight or when you are gone for an extended period of time. This includes studio lighting and grip equipment that may cause burglars to think there is expensive camera gear to snatch.
One solution is to use a locked file cabinet because that doesn’t look like a place where photography equipment is stored. You could even label the cabinet or drawers with fake titles like Supplies, Tax Information, School, Correspondence, etc.
A well built footlocker with double locks also works well to hide and secure photo equipment. Use it as a coffee table, hide it in a closet behind clothing or boxes. You can 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.
7. Alarm It – 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. Cameras should also be able to record who is leaving from each door of the building because even burglars who enter via the roof or a window usually leave through a door.