Lenstag – free theft protection

Having your equipment stolen and not getting it back is terrible. Buying secondhand photo gear and later finding out it’s stolen (such as when the police confiscate it to return it to its owner) isn’t much better. But there are things you can do to avoid this. One of them is Lenstag.

lenstag-logo-liveI’ve been using Lenstag since 2013. The basic functionality is free (and the creator Trevor Sehrer says it will remain so). You can register the serial numbers of your cameras, lenses (and in fact any photography gear) but keep that list hidden and private to yourself only. You can mark any of your items as stolen and Lenstag will add it to a public list, and act as a clearing house for reports. They’ll also email you if they find images on the web taken by your camera.

And if you’re about to purchase any secondhand equipment, it’s easy to check the serial numbers against this list to help avoid throwing your money away on stolen goods (even if the seller doesn’t know it was stolen). If the seller won’t give you the serial number, be warned. It is reasonable to ask for the serial number, in the same way that it’s expected that sellers of mobile phones will tell you the IMEI so you can check if it was stolen!

Lenstag can be accessed via their website, and via their apps for iOS and Android phones. Whenever I get a new piece of photo equipment I add it to my account, and use their phone app to upload a photograph of the device showing the serial number. After a while (sometimes days, but that’s OK) the item changes to “verified” status. And when selling gear I offer the buyer the option to transfer the item to their Lenstag account so they can skip that verification step.

I recommend you check out Lenstag if you’re not already using it!
Remember signing up is free, and you can then explore the service while you decide if it will suit you. Like all the equipment I recommend here, it’s because I use it myself and find it useful. And in this case the more people who use it the more effective it will be. Hopefully it will be useful to you too!

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