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Finding Stolen Gear Through Images: Lenstag Rescue

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Lenstag, the free service that collects serial numbers from your lenses and cameras and keeps them in a registry to be flagged in the unfortunate event that they get stolen, aims to officially match all gear serials as belonging to its owner and, thus, the reselling and pawning of stolen gear becomes increasingly discouraged. The more people who register the gear, the more effective the registry system is and now the search for hot items has grown with a new Chrome extension called Lenstag Rescue.

Lenstag Rescue checks images on the web for camera serial numbers. If it finds a serial number, or similar data in an image,that info is sent over an encrypted connection back to Lenstag Rescue where it will be used to help recover cameras already flagged on Lenstag as stolen.

The Chrome extension only sends data when it finds an image with serial numbers or other data in an image that can aid in a camera’s recovery. The data is about the found image and does not contain any text data from the web page itself. If you currently have equipment flagged as stolen in your Lenstag account, Lenstag Rescue is already working for you. If you flag something as stolen in the future, it will automatically be enabled.

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The more people who register the gear, the more effective the registry system is. Stolen serials are indexed online, so checking up on a serial before purchasing in the resell market is easier than ever.

Lenstag, and its Chrome extension assistant, aids in monitoring where stolen gear ends up. If you are about to purchase a used camera or lens off of Craigslist, for instance, searching for the item’s serial number on the Lenstag website or the iOS and Android apps will tell you if that items has been flagged as “stolen”. You can also text the serial number in question to +1-415-749-9808 to get an immediate answer on its status without even having the app.

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Lenstag is also a convenient database to have on-hand for when you have to quickly refer to the serials of your gear for police reports and insurance filings (pure sadness is pictured above – one of our own employees lost some of her gear to theft).

Finding stolen serials on hundreds of thousands of online photos is a huge job. Help out by downloading Lenstag Rescue and contribute to the passive monitoring that may help get someone’s gear back. If you don’t have Lenstag yet, open your free account and register your serials.

See what gear gets stolen most and how on this Petapixel infographic.

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Scott Roeder is a wedding photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also an avid diver. His specialties include photo booths, videography, and action shooting. Check out his work on his website.

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