‘Hyper-Vigilant’ Photographer is Robbed of $16K Worth of Camera Gear

A “hyper-vigilant” photographer was robbed of $16,000 worth of camera gear right under his nose.

In a video published a fortnight ago, well-known portrait photographer and YouTuber Manny Ortiz recounted how he had thousands of dollars worth of camera kit stolen from him while on a train from Rome to Venice in Italy.

Ortiz says that he never thought he could ever be a victim of a robbery as he is “a hyper-vigilant person” who is “hyper-aware” of his surroundings.

The photographer even has “law enforcement experience” — having previously worked as a police officer.

Ortiz says he was on a content trip in Italy and took all of his favorite gear to film the sponsored videos in his carry-on bag.

This included a Sony FX3 camera, a Sony ZV-E1, GoPro cameras, a plethora of lenses, and over $2,000 of new Peter Mckinnon filters.

Ortiz says he was sitting on the train with this carry-on bag of camera kit right next to him in the luggage store. The photographer explains that he was editing on his laptop but he was always paying attention to what was going on around him.

During the journey, a bearded man arrived on a train and sat two seats ahead of him of Ortiz. However, the man kept looking around a lot — particularly at Ortiz.

On his travels to Italy, the photographer recalled that strangers do tend to stare more at people than in the U.S. The photographer figured that staring was considered culturally less rude there.

However, Ortiz said he continued to be perturbed by the passenger during the train journey.

Eventually, the bearded man got off the train. But he then went and stood right outside of Ortiz’s window.

The bearded man talking to someone on the phone on the train platform but kept looking at Ortiz.

As the train was about to depart for the next stop, Ortiz noticed that the bearded man wasn’t coming back to the carriage, which was strange.

The train eventually took off. But, it was then that Ortiz looked to his right and realized that his carry-on bag full of expensive camera kit was nowhere to be seen.

‘I Didn’t Think Something Like This Would Ever Happen to Me’

Ortiz understandably “freaked out.” He says he checked the whole train on the advice of the staff onboard. However, the photographer couldn’t find his carry-on bag anywhere and knew that it had been stolen.

Ortiz reported the robbery to the Italian police. However, the authorities were not able to get any train surveillance camera footage of the theft so Ortiz never discovered exactly how his camera gear had been stolen.

Fortunately, the photographer was able to recover most of his kit with his insurance when he returned to the U.S.

But he says he had no camera equipment to shoot the sponsored videos in Italy. Instead, he had to rely on his smartphone camera on the trip.

“Without that insurance, I would have been SOL [sh*t out of luck],” Ortiz says of the incident.

“And I have that mentality that something like this is probably not going to happen to me. I’m just way too vigilant, I’m way too careful.”

Ortiz speculates that the bearded man was working with a partner on the train and they worked together to rob the carry-on bag from right under his eyes.

The photographer believes that the robbery must have happened in a matter of seconds.

Ortiz hopes that sharing his experience will encourage other photographers to not be as “naive” as he was. Ortiz warned that this could happen to anyone and advised other photographers to never skimp on camera insurance.