Our $3,000 DSLR Was Stolen in Italy and We Filmed It Happen

Yes, you read that title correctly. In this episode of the behind the scenes of “Photographing the World 3,” we face the most disastrous day of filming yet! While Lee was recovering our crashed DJI Mavic in the mountains of Matera, someone on the hiking trail stole our brand new Nikon D500 DSLR and Tamron 18-270mm lens.

Up until this point the trip hadn't been going very smoothly. Weather had ruined many of our shoot days, the search for quality food left us hungry most nights, and a few of our hotels were plagued with issues like broken heat or water. We believed that things had reached an all time low when Lee crashed the drone but we were wrong.

I was trying to film with Elia on one side of the canyon as Lee went in search of the drone on the opposite side. There wasn't anyone anywhere around us and so Lee left his camera bag and camera on a tripod at the bottom of the canyon while he climbed. 

I noticed a couple walking toward Lee's camera and then they paused. It was so far away that I couldn't tell what they were doing but it certainly looked suspicious. Later we found out that one of them was unscrewing the camera from the battery grip and putting it into his backpack. Lee tried chasing these camera thieves for almost an hour but they ended up getting away. 

Luckily for us, we have Hill and Usher insurance on all of our gear and it includes insurance on all rental gear. After showing them our police report and paying our deductible, they paid us back for the stolen gear. We can't recommend them enough. 

Surprisingly, we were able to come away with a complete lesson from that location for PTW 3 and Elia captured a great shot. 

If you're interested in landscape photography you may want to check out the full tutorial, “Photographing The World 3” in the Fstoppers Store. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see next weeks episode when we finally make it to Dubai. 

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Previous comments

1, there was nobody around and it was a 20 minute hike to get down there.

2, I trust people and we leave our gear laying around all the time

3, I was climbing cliffs at times and although I could have done it with a backpack, I couldn’t have done it while also holding a tripod.

I should have simply hid the gear better and everything would have been fine.

Patrick Hall's picture

I tried that service but it found nothing. I'll add our serial number to this post when I get home.

I gotta agree with Jon Miller here. Even if it looks like nobody's around, I always assume that there could be someone around at any time. I'd never leave anything of value on its own. I also don't trust anyone I don't know until they've earned trust. Perhaps a result of living in big cities..

Regards from Italy, i live in Rome but i was born in Potenza, near Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano ( and Matera of course). I was very proud to see these location in your episode. I understand you don't found high rated Hotel, Pietrapertosa and Castalmezzano are very very small rural village, and i never meet tourist in this lication, but for eating, next time ask me. Thera are a lot of very good typicall food. (For example PEPERONI CRUSCHI)
P.s in the episode i've seen you eating in Mc Donald near Potenza. I suppose it was a joke.

P.S.S. The "DOLOMITI LUCANE" are really a wonderfull location, but non ones knows these. How do you fuond it?

P.s.s.s the best italian pizza is in New York. HA, HA, HA

Hi Bob, i think Americans do a lot of things better than Italians , but food is not one of these. In every case, if i'll come to NY, i'll call you for a pizza. Good light from Roma. ;-)

muhammad radhi's picture

I hope the insurance didn't see the video, if they did they might consider it as negligence which won 't be covered.

Sean Gibson's picture

Sucks about the camera, but lets be clear; If you leave a camera unattended at the bottom of a valley, you didn't have it stolen, you gave it away.

In hindsight, it was obviously a mistake but don't think that the thief was some harmless hiker who stumbled upon a lone camera and thought that it had been misplaced. The guy who took it had his girlfriend climb up part of the mountain and play lookout while he was stealing it. I made eye contact with her and wondered why she was looking at me. They knew where I was and that it was my camera.

Sean Gibson's picture

Ugh... to see their actual faces and have them get away. I had the first two cameras I ever owned stolen from me when I was 13. Maybe it left a bad taste in my mouth without knowing it, and that's why I didn't get into photography until 20 years later. If I ever catch a thief, he is going to pay for every one that came before him in my life... poor bastard. ha!

Stephen Ironside's picture

Hah. "I'm ready to leave Italy. How about you?"