Video: Photographer Has Camera Lens Stolen From Around His Neck

Back in 2011, the BBC show The Real Hustle shared how easy it is for thieves to quickly and quietly steal an expensive lens off your camera — even when your gear is hanging around your neck. If you didn’t believe it then, check out the video above. It reportedly shows a photographer having his lens stolen by a group of robbers over in Russia.

Russian blogger naagmasa writes that the incident was recorded by a friend of his in St. Petersburg, Russia last year. The thieves are said to often target passers-by in this particular area, and the police there are unable to put a stop to it.

From watching the security/dash-cam footage above, here’s how the muggings work: after spotting a photographer with a pricey camera lens around his neck, the thieves approach him or her in a pack and surround the “mark.”

One of the thieves then shoves something in front of the photographer, hiding the camera and lens from view. At the same time, another robber reaches under the distraction and quickly removes the lens from the mount.


By the time the photographer realizes that the lens is missing, it’s extremely difficult to figure out which person in the group has the lens. The group disbands in different directions, and the robbery is complete.



naagmasa writes that when he visited himself months later, the same thieves tried to steal his camera. Be careful folks: if you’re ever approached by one or more people on the street who seem way too interested in you, be sure you keep an eye and a hand on all your valuable gear.

  • ryoder

    I shoot by drawing on a piece of paper with a pencil. If they steal my equipment, I’m only out $0.35

  • Justin Haugen

    Growing up abroad, you learn to practice good OPSEC (operational security). Us Americans are terrible at being inconspicuous. American flag tshirts and fanny packs. Real low key lol

  • Jacob

    That’s why I also shoot guns and keep one on me at all times when shooting photos. The other night while shooting a lightning storm some other photographers came up to say hi but I didn’t know them or what they were doing out there and it was really dark away from town so I was ready if something happened. However they were cool and we talked for quite a while.

  • Basil Glew-Galloway

    I’ve lived in Marakesh, you should be fine there. This is too sophisticated for the hoodrats there. You’ll get pickpocketed by innocent-looking young children, but don’t worry about your lens.

  • Mark Anthony Artes Sola

    1st viewing = the man in cap took the lens and gave it to the one with bag.
    2nd viewing = the same.

    Were they arrested?

  • Basil Glew-Galloway

    That should be the first rule…

  • Basil Glew-Galloway

    Yeah, always tape everything black…

  • FayKalius

    I don’t only shoot photos.

  • Kevin Miller

    Best way to keep your lenses from being stolen? Dont visit Russia! If Russia wants a tourism industry at all, they will put a stop to it. They will only bother if the value of the lost tourism is more then the expense of catching these criminals. I mean they have there photo’s!

  • 9inchnail

    So you don’t have to be afraid because those monkeys don’t know what a camera is? Racist bastard.

  • Dominik


    Btw – gaffer-taped Leica is an answer for your questions.

  • son of putin

    russia is such a soddy country that no one should take anything valuable out to the streets there. and have you even seen the street or road accident videos from russia in youtube? whoah! avoid russia at any cost if you like the stuff you carry around – or simply want to stay alive and in health! you have been warned now.

  • jjam

    what’s happening? beat that!

  • AK

    I don’t even know to read and write, see and feel..

  • Jack Edward

    That thief knew what he was doing with that lens mount. Sometimes I don’t get my lenses off that smoothly.

  • Dmitry

    He is not russian, he is a foreign tourist. Russians are usually not so naive :)

  • Ivan

    Another variation of the same “distractors and a thief” action, but way better executed and with much less damage to the victim (likely less than $100):

    Watch carefully: The first thief distracts victim’s wife. The second thief pushes something behind the guy and and tells him he had dropped it. The third thief picks up freshly dispensed cash from the ATM. Under 5 seconds to complete the main act. Smooth!

  • noobsauce

    They opened his backpack too.

  • Adam Evening

    i have had this EXACT same thing happen in St Petersburg in July 2012.

    Before you think that the tourist ‘had it coming’, I am martial arts trained and worked as a taxi driver for 10 years whilst studying and starting my photography business – so I kinda know how to look after myself and have a pretty good BS detector / dodgy guy radar.

    When ‘some random guy’ suddenly appears flashing ‘post cards’ in your face and forces you to collide with him – you have to put your hands up to brace / balance push away from the guy.

    These guys took my 24-105 f4L lens from me. Prior to him colliding with me, I actually had my hand on the lens.

    I grabbed the right guy and then found myself surrounded and you realize it is actually a gang. You then realize you are in a foreign country where bribery is rife and if you try to act out you could either be stabbed or even arrested.

    The guy in blue on the right in the video shouts – “it was gypsies – they are running away” and as you look they pass the lens to someone else in the hope you actually are fooled into chasing the non existing gypsy.

    It is a very well orchestrated ‘lens snatch’ and when you think about it, if these guys took one $1,000+ lens every hour for 6 hours a day – that could be at say at $500 black market value, that could be OVER A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR !!! Which is not bad when you think of these guys could be pumping gas for $20k per year.

    We reported it to police, and they said gangs operate in the area, but nothing was really done… as you can see this date says September 2012.

  • Lhb

    I had a similar thing happen to me in Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg in 2011. A group of 4 guys surrounded me on the train and opened my backpack and grabbed a lens (good thing only one), 3 of them got off the next train station, while one guy was still distracting me. Took about 30 seconds for the robbery to be complete.

    What’s weird was, my parents warned me to be careful in that area since they had were also robbed around 15 years ago (got a Canon film camera) on that same area.

  • Nuno Fernandes

    I asked God In advance about what happens.. he told me already in 2009 …. beat that !!

  • nightman72

    says the guy who calls them ‘monkeys’…

  • Anonymous

    Idea: small remote-controlled charges placed inside the walls of the lens. Thief goes away with your lens, moments later he has no hands. Just a couple of incidents and the rest will stay away from photographers and try getting a job for once.

  • Leif Sikorski

    This is a good warning. Most people care about their camera and forget how easy it is to steal the lens. Especially when people use blackrapid, sun sniper and such things where the camera is on the side of the body it must be very easy.

  • mikep

    It is hard to beat professional thieves once they get you in their sites. Not getting in their sites is the answer. Walking around with a big ass piece of fencable trinket visible is asking for it…. and it makes you like a easy target doofus tourist anyway.

  • Me

    Did anyone notice the bear on the unicycle?

  • Adam Evening

    No doubt – but they stole my 24-105… not exactly a big showy lens. And these guys know it is still worth over $1K… Ironically I was shooting a series on ‘Tourists’. I suppose the boring trick is to keep your camera in a front pack. And if local police know that this is where thieves operate – they should have signs and / or do their own ‘sting’ operation.

  • Adam Evening

    good idea!

  • Adam Evening

    werd! If local police know that this is where thieves operate – they should have signs and / or do their own ‘sting’ operation.

  • Frode Hegland

    Another reason not to have the camera around your neck…

  • Jeff Lombardo

    If it took more than 1 view to see what was going on then you’re lacking a street smart education.

  • Rachel

    That’s great! I wonder how many extra views it got because of your comment! LOL (I’ll admit, I re-watched LMAO)

  • John

    Never let people get this close to you on the street when you’re traveling. Nobody should be getting up in your grill that much if you’re watching your surroundings closely.

  • marxz

    in some areas (Thailand, Cambodia etc) thieves are well on to that and tape over branding etc is as likely to attract attention as a nice shiny shiny new system

  • Ivan Ivanov

    or maybe they unscrewed the UV filter

  • Ivan Ivanov

    I just shoot with a 9mm, everyone runs away.

  • Igor Ken

    It was just a different object. I wanted to say the same “scheme” just don’t know if the expression is correct…

  • Bill

    this is why you also insure ALL of your camera gear…. To many potential “dangers” in the world for your expensive gear, one of which is dirtbag thieves…

  • VLF

    Obviously only a Nikon was stolen.

  • VLF

    In a recent photography competition there were two awards.

    First – a week long holiday in Moscw.

    Second – two week’s long holiday in Moscow.

  • PhilipTheGovernor

    Poor guy. He didn’t stand a chance.
    These fuckers deserve a shot to the stomach.

  • WKYA_Radio


  • WKYA_Radio

    you win the internet

  • WKYA_Radio


  • skurge2144

    thank you.. if only for some time. :)