10 Tips to Keep a DSLR From Being Stolen

Protect your expensive camera equipment from thieves

When making the switch from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR, one aspect to consider is how to protect your valuable new equipment from potential thieves. You might not have worried about having a cheap beginner-level camera stolen, but your advanced camera equipment is far more desirable. These tips will help you keep your DSLR camera and equipment from being stolen.

Be Smart at Night

If you’re spending time in nightclubs or if you’re planning to drink alcohol, leave the DSLR camera behind altogether. The hassle you'll save by using an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera is well worth the tradeoff in image quality. People very often lose their cameras or have them stolen during a night on the town.

Man reaching into backpack
 Fredrik Skold / Getty Images

Camera Bag Options

When traveling, use a large camera bag that is comfortable to carry but that offers some padding and protection for your equipment. Don't pick one that's excessively colorful or flashy; it will draw unwanted attention.

Use a simple camera bag. Although lots of pockets might sound convenient, a simple bag makes finding your camera and accessories, shooting the photos, and repacking the bag easy. If you're wearing a backpack camera bag, stay aware of your surroundings so someone can't open the bag while you're in a crowd or where you've set it down to shoot.

Find a Way to Attach the Camera to the Bag

If you know you won’t be taking the camera out of the bag for a while, try attaching the camera’s strap to the inside of the camera bag with a clip. This makes theft a little more difficult for a thief who tries to reach inside your bag to grab the camera,

Keep the Camera Bag With You at All Times

Treat your expensive DSLR camera like a large stack of $20 bills. You wouldn’t leave a pile of cash unattended, so don’t leave your camera bag unattended, either. That imaginary stack of cash is also what the thief sees when he’s considering stealing your DSLR camera.

Insure Your Equipment

Some household insurance policies protect against theft of personal property while you're traveling; other policies do not. Check with your insurance agent to see whether your DSLR is protected. If it isn’t, get a quote to add protection for the camera, at least while you’ll be traveling.

Pick and Choose Where You Carry the Camera

If you know you’re going to spend most of the day traveling in an area where you wouldn’t feel safe having the camera visible, just leave it at the hotel, preferably in a safe in your room or at the front desk. Carry the camera only where you expect you’ll feel safe using it.

Be Careful in Unfamiliar Areas

If you’re in a location where you don’t feel safe but you still want to grab some shots, leave the DSLR in the camera bag until you're actually shooting—and put it back in immediately when you're done.

Track Your Serial Number

Make sure that you've saved your DSLR camera’s serial number, just in case it's stolen. In the event your camera is stolen, police can use it to help find the camera. If they do recover the equipment, presenting the number assures them of your rightful ownership. Keep this information in a safe location, not in your camera bag.

Try to Avoid Crowded Areas

Don’t carry your camera bag into an area where a thief could be hiding in a large crowd, where he could jostle you “accidentally” while grabbing the camera out of the bag.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Ultimately, keeping your equipment (and yourself) safe comes down to using common sense about your surroundings. If something feels off, leave. If you don't feel confident allowing your camera to be seen, don't—whether that means not removing it from the bag or leaving it home or at the hotel altogether. If you do have to use your camera in dangerous surroundings, take precautions: insure it, don't set it down, and keep it close to your body.

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