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Thieves And Cameras

I was out taking pix today for an article I am working on about the Colonial City here, which was the first European settlement in the New World and is a jewel in the Patrimonial Crown of Humanity, according to UNESCO. The city is a mix of crumbling old buildings and newly renovated chic places that house bars and hotels. The people are a mix too: many have lived here in quite humble circumstances for years, there are some expats who have fixed up colonial digs, and there are plenty of fat red tourists, cueros (prostitutes), tigueres (a Dominican word for con-men), and thieves. Thieving has in fact gotten quite out of hand.

So I was wandering around today snapping pix and waiting for the magic hour, which, once it arrived, enraptured me so that I was totally fixated on what I was seeing through my viewfinder and almost entirely unconscious of anything outside that blessed quadrangle. I was almost hit a couple times by SUVs (which everyone drives down here because they are all into conspicuous consumption).

I was leaning out into the street on the corner of Billini and 19 de Marzo, about to take this photo:

when I recognized the ominous purr of a “motó” or little motorbike, carrying two miscreants, approaching from my left. Here, purse and camera snatchings are as common as bird poop from all the pigeons, but I was never a victim as I am usually pretty observant. But there is no concentration of the moment like that of photographic seeing, and sure enough when I vaguely registered that the bike was within earshot, the juvenile delinquents were already upon me, and the guy on the back deftly grabbed my little Olympus c7070. Well, he didnt get it. I was so surprised that it took me a moment to realize what was happening, but because the camera is pretty compact, the exposure was a long one (tripodless, around an 1/8) so I was holding the camera steadily and crouched down on my knees to simulate a tripod, and I had the strap wrapped round my arm not once but twice, the little bastards failed in their grab and skedaddle. The camera never left my hands though we both fumbled over it a bit, and thankfully the strap held. The look on the cabron’s face was priceless! I cursed them, they motored off, and I returned to my shot. Meanwhile the watchman across the street whose job it is to guard Oscar de la Renta’s newly renovated colonial house yelled out, “¿se lo llevaron?” to which I laughed and replied, “no, pero trataron.” Then I crouched down and took my shot. After that I got out of there because I figured they would make a second trip round the block. But they didnt.

So the lesson is, folks, be sure your strap is in good shape, and always wrap the strap twice round your arm. And keep shooting.

by Jon Anderson at 2006-04-03 01:35:55 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Santo Domingo , Dominican Republic | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Sounds very exciting! And you the victor. Thank goodness you and the camera were spared. I was out ‘on holiday’ wandering through the fancy pants area of Grenada where my hub and I had rented a house, Mamiya 6 round my neck. It was Superbowl Sunday, the hub was back at the house taking it all in. I was like you, Jon, mesmerized by the magic hour, soothed by the warmth and lapping waves, to the point of oblivion. I didn’t realize I was being followed, and I walked into our rental without locking the gate behind, put the camera down in the central patio zone, and went to the kitchen to start dinner. The theif walked right into the house, and took the beloved Mamiya and her lenses, and walked out. The police were of no help, even tho my own networking after the fact led me to the disclosure that “Bombaki took it.” I would have found some resolution in the thought of someone feeding their family on my loss, but turns out that Bombaki was not only a thief but a child molester. And I left beautiful Grenada without my Mamiya.

by [former member] | 03 Apr 2006 01:04 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Wow!, qué lo parió, Jon!! I’m glad nothing major happened.

by Luis E. Andrade | 03 Apr 2006 01:04 | Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side, United States | | Report spam→
Ha! this is par for the course down here. But they dont mug you, it is all just sneak thievery. In India I was pickpocketed three times within a week upon arrival (caught each one too), so I am used to it I guess.

But it is annoying when you have to walk around with a camera and work. You cant keep it hidden all the time. I am going to have to hire an assistant just to keep these shit eating flies off me!

¡Hijos de putas que los parieron doblao’ y sin cojones, sin vergüenza y sin honor!

by Jon Anderson | 03 Apr 2006 02:04 (ed. Apr 3 2006) | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
good work!

Im sure it was a intensely sweet moment.

by [former member] | 03 Apr 2006 02:04 | Quito, Ecuador | | Report spam→
OH Jon I am glad you are ok . In my country (Ecuador)is the same thing . I am never relax except when I go to the country where people are complety different. Last time I took one of my brother’s employees so he can watch my back ( and cameras) Otherwise I carry my monopod . Here in Miami a Policeman approach me with such a scary face and said : “Oh men I though that was a shootgun”

The scary thing is that sometimes this CABRONES get upset if they fail their robbery and they shoot you or something.
I see you wrap your strap the way you hold a rifle. GOOD thinking !
I wish you could have taken a picture of the thief face I am sure it was priceless.

Hey Erika : Do you think Bombaki is an amateur photog now?
Be safe guys!

by Alex Reshuan | 03 Apr 2006 02:04 | | Report spam→
OH Jon I am glad you are ok . In my country (Ecuador)is the same thing . I am never relax except when I go to the country where people are complety different. Last time I took one of my brother’s employees so he can watch my back ( and cameras) Otherwise I carry my monopod . Here in Miami a Policeman approach me with such a scary face and said : “Oh men I though that was a shootgun”

The scary thing is that sometimes this CABRONES get upset if they fail their robbery and they shoot you or something.
I see you wrap your strap the way you hold a rifle. GOOD thinking !
I wish you could have taken a picture of the thief face I am sure it was priceless.

Hey Erika : Do you think Bombaki is an amateur photog now?
Be safe guys!

by Alex Reshuan | 03 Apr 2006 02:04 | | Report spam→
This reminds me of a time when covering a riot in the UK and I was chased by about 8 or 9 guys that jumped out of a large van and wanted to do me in. However, I’m fast on my feet, faster than most perhaps. But I dropped my beloved Canon T90 (my own camera, was shooting with staff issued Nikons) and I stopped to pick it up. Just then one of the big bastards grabbed me and all I could do was swing at him. I collected his chin with a Nikon F3 with full pro motor drive and if you can remember what those cameras were like you’ll know the guy was in a bad way. He dropped like a sack of spuds and I may have shattered his jaw. He was out cold but I got away. That was back in ’92.

by Paul Treacy | 03 Apr 2006 02:04 (ed. Apr 3 2006) | | Report spam→
Lost a camera, lenses, and about 40 rolls of exposed film on a train in India about six years ago. Only took my eyes off my bag for a few seconds to put my boots on and, bang, it was gone. Major bummer at the time, but important lesson learnt.

by [former member] | 03 Apr 2006 12:04 | wiltshire, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Ah, Jason, the trains. I remember well. We had to lock everything down with chains and sleep on our bags. When we pulled into the last station at the end of the line, the street urchins ran on board faster than rats, and if you didnt collect your things immediately, they snatched them up and were gone. I lost my sandals that way.

by Jon Anderson | 03 Apr 2006 12:04 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Yeah, that’s exactly what happened to me pulling into Delhi from Calcutta. Think it was a well planned scam actually because one of my boots had mysteriously vanished (it was there a few minutes before) and then, distracted and looking around for it, my bag went too. Had to walk into Delhi in monsoon season, pissed off, camera bagless, with one boot and one very wet sock.

by [former member] | 03 Apr 2006 12:04 | wiltshire, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Decent carabiners and a long (and strong) camera strap works well. Some gorillla in Moscow tried to grab mine once, but the strap was running through a carabiner attached to my belt and I was hauled off my feet and thrown to the ground, although he almost had his shoulder dislocated by the unexpected weight and lack of give. He ran away, while I limped.

by Mikethehack | 03 Apr 2006 13:04 (ed. Apr 3 2006) | | Report spam→

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Participants

Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Luis E. Andrade, I shoot and I write Luis E. Andrade
I shoot and I write
Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side , United States
Alex Reshuan, Photographer Alex Reshuan
Photographer
Guayaquil , Ecuador
Paul  Treacy, Photographer Paul Treacy
Photographer
(Photohumourist)
London , United Kingdom ( LGW )
Mikethehack, Freelance thril performer Mikethehack
Freelance thril performer
Way Up My Own Ass , United Kingdom


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