Lens Pro To Go Robbed: Serial Numbers of Stolen Gear Here

Dear Friends,
I am sad to write that Lens Pro To Go, one of the nation’s leading camera and lens rental services, suffered a break-in at its headquarters outside Boston this weekend and was robbed of nearly $600,000 worth of equipment. These types of equipment thefts are unfortunately not terribly rare (although this is by far the largest one I’ve heard of), because photography gear is unfortunately very easy to resell and is therefore a notoriously attractive target for thieves.

(In addition to being one of the country’s leading camera and lens rental houses, Lens Pro To Go also happens to be near and dear to me as I know the owner and several of the employees personally, and have worked with them for years and years. Paul Friedman, the owner, is one of the nicest people you’ll ever come across.)

The exact specifics of how LPTG was robbed are lurid: an external window was broken, allowing the thieves into a small closet; from there, the thieves broke through an interior wall to get into LPTG’s main storage area (the apparent familiarity the thieves had with the internal layout of LPTG’s facility is sure to raise eyebrows, and more than a few questions).

More importantly though, at least for the time being, is that no one was hurt during the commission of the crime, and incredibly, the LPTG team was able to pick up the pieces, inventory their losses as well as what was left behind, and continue fulfilling customers’ orders without missing a beat… for which they deserve an incredible bravo. That’s dedication, folks.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Lens Pro To Go has compiled a list of all the equipment that was stolen with the items' serial numbers. As tends to be the nature with photo gear thefts, the thieves will likely try to sell the equipment as quickly as possible. Therefore it is essential that if you are looking to buy a camera or lens on eBay, Craigslist, or through any other aftermarket means, you check the list of stolen gear serial numbers to make sure you don’t buy stolen property, and if you find someone selling any of LPTG’s stolen gear you contact the police.

The stolen equipment serial number list is available on Lens Pro To Go’s website, here.

Again, if you’re buying camera equipment now or in the future via services like eBay or Craigslist, please be vigilant and check the serial numbers against the list of stolen gear. If you find someone selling stolen gear, call the police.

(And when you need to rent a camera, lens, or a variety of other photo- and video-related stuff, the Lens Pro folks are great people; consider giving them your business!)

My Drone Just Helped Put Out a Forest Fire

Tonight my drone just helped the Massachusetts State Police locate a forest fire.

The Middlesex Fells is a large nature preserve near where I live. There are a couple of lakes that are very pretty, so this afternoon I took my quadcopter drone to the Fells to get some pretty sunset footage. As I was setting up the drone just a few minutes before sunset, I saw smoke in the sky. I called the State Police to report a likely forest fire. The operator took my name and number and thanked me for the report, and after I got off the phone I started flying the drone.

A few minutes later, the police called me back. The officer asked if I knew more specifically where the fire was located (the Fells is thousands of acres in size and spans four different towns, and parts of it are pretty remote and are only accessible by foot). I told the officer, “I don’t, but I can find out!” I explained that I was flying a drone and could use it to locate the fire more specifically. With the officer on speakerphone I took the drone up to about 100 meters and looked around, and on my video feed monitor I could clearly see where the smoke was originating, right between the southern and middle of the area’s three lakes. I told the officer, and he then gave my information to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, which operates the park and manages the land, who then directed their firefighters to the area I identified.

 Frame grab from video showing forest fire in the Middlesex Fells Reservation outside of Boston, Sept. 22, 2014.

Frame grab from video showing forest fire in the Middlesex Fells Reservation outside of Boston, Sept. 22, 2014.

I was glad to be in the right place at the right time (with the right equipment!) to be able to help. This experience is an example of how emerging technologies like drones can be of enormous benefit in all manner of applications.