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An Open Letter to the Person Who Stole My Camera…

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Dear clever person who stole my camera from the Barcelona train station — yes, you are oh so clever. I must say, I read about your ilk in all the guidebooks and could not even imagine how you might be able to get my beloved camera from my ever-watchful grasp, but you and your band of accomplices managed to play me and my group of friends like a fine tuned instrument. I am still only guessing at what you did to me.

Regardless, because I have no idea who you are, or what you look like, my mind has conjured up all sorts of images of you. The most vivid image I have is of your clan dancing about in wicked delight, like some coven of witches on the summer solstice, when you opened my camera bag to reveal a Nikon D800, 50mm macro lens and 24–70mm f/2.8 lens.

Yes, you scored quite a setup with enough to start a small photography business. As a matter of fact, the camera body you have in your possession does form the backup body for my business, and what you have are my two key workhorse lenses.

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When I realized what you had done, I went through all the typical stages of a loss; denial quickly gave way to anger, and it is in anger where I am currently mired the deepest. I feel horribly violated by your ruthless and callous touching and taking of my things, and the fact that I was so far away from home and unable to communicate with seemingly uncaring authorities only exacerbated the extreme sense of helplessness I felt.

But the anger that stays with me is a rage over the unjustness of the fact that what you took from me were items that I had worked hard for. I work really hard for everything I have.

I’ve experienced a lot of personal self-sacrifice in my life to get where I am and to have the things I have. I put myself through college so I could earn a living, and when I wanted more out of life, I put myself through graduate school, at night, taking time away from my children and friends so that I could make a better life for us.

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It never once occurred to me that if I wanted something I could just go take it from someone else. So I am having a rather difficult time wrapping my brain around the audacity of you to just lead an existence where rather than work at a job to get along in life, you work at just taking whatever you feel like from hard-working people.

I’d like to believe that the foundation of my faith and religious teachings is accurate, and that it is true that your justice will be meted out and our maker will deal with you at the time He sees fit. But because I am not a patient person, I also take some solace in my belief that there is such a thing as karma here on Earth, and that it will bite you in the ass probably sooner rather than later.

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You should know that I did have serial numbers for all of that equipment, and it is all registered and reported as stolen, so I really do hope that your attempts to fence it are met with at least some semblance of difficulty.

I have gone over the scenario over and over in my mind and am starting to reach the stage of acceptance, where I realize that what you took from me is, after all, just “stuff,” and stuff can eventually be replaced. I am grateful that at no time did I ever feel bodily threatened and none of our party was in any way harmed. But there is one final thing that bothers me that I just cannot let go of…

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You see, the morning you decided to help yourself to my camera was not just any morning … it was my dear friend Julia’s birthday. And early that morning, as we were having breakfast, our group shared a little impromptu celebration with her — just a precious little moment of life — and I captured it. I did not have time to download the cards before going to the train station. Therefore, you have also stolen my memories, and those, dear thief, are the very foundation upon which my business is built.

You see, I am a professional photographer, and what I do for a living is capture and preserve memories for my clients. It is the part of my business that I hold in the highest esteem, and I recognize the enormity of the responsibility with which I am privileged to be trusted. So to shoot for a client and not be able to deliver the final product, their memories, would be about the worst possible thing I could ever imagine.

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So I ask you, train station thief, whoever you are: if you have any semblance of a conscience whatsoever, could you please just return my memory cards? I am easy to find; my name and website are written all over them (yes, “them,” I shoot with more than one card to insure against loss … pretty ironic, isn’t it?)

Please. You have taken a piece of my livelihood, you have taken the fun out of my vacation, you have stolen a piece of my soul, shattered my sense of security and have cast doubt on my belief in humanity … could you please just return my memories?


Author’s note: I would like to offer my most sincere apology for using the phrase “band of gypsies” in my original version of this post. I was completely ignorant of the fact that “gypsy” refers to a particular ethnicity or race of people and I am truly sorry that my unfortunate choice of words was offensive or could be considered racist. My choice of words was a mistake, and I am truly sorry.


About the author: Marianne Hawkins Sabrier is a New Orleans-based wedding portrait and event photographer who works together with her husband. Together, they share a passion for photography, music, food, wine, cooking and travel — not necessarily in that order, and best if all done at the same time — preferably in the company of good friends and family. You can see more of her work here. This article was originally published here.