You may recall the story from last November in which KPIX cameraman Gregg Welk was assaulted and had his camera stolen, still running, just as he and reporter Anne Makovec were covering a story in Oakland. Well, in the last year, every news station and several print photographers have been robbed in a similar fashion while trying to cover Oakland, with one newspaper photographer having lost five cameras. And now the NYT is on the case.
As they report, Oakland is somewhat unique in the country for this kind of mugging of journalists, but the trend may catch on elsewhere. The fact is, the equipment is worth a lot of money sometimes up to $50,000 and the reporters are easy prey when they're reporting live, staying in a specific spot, with a van that can't move until it lowers its satellite dish. The problem has become so intense, that some news crews are now bringing armed, plainclothed security people with them on assignments in Oakland.
Unfortunately, no one's been able to figure out where the news camera equipment is ending up or how the thieves are selling it. They're not appearing on eBay or in pawnshops, leading SFist to wager that some criminal mastermind in Oakland has cleverly discovered a fence for the stuff overseas, or otherwise far away.
In any event, everyone should be aware that whipping out personal cameras whilst in Oakland is not a good idea. At all.