How to Track a Stolen Camera Online
Ever had your car broken into? Or worse, your apartment? Ever been pickpocketed? Handheld electronics—iPods, iPhones, iPads, GPS devices, digital cameras—are easy to snatch, light to carry, and useful to most. And when they're gone, they're gone.
Until now. Thanks to developer Matt Burns, there may be some hope of reclamation. Burns' site, Stolen Camera Finder, attempts to locate missing or stolen cameras by searching for photos posted on the web taken with the missing camera. Burns currently has over 1 million camera sightings in his database—and counting!
If you're a victim of camera theft, here's how to to test out Burns' "thievery search engine":
- Keep your fingers crossed that the thief posts photos they've taken with YOUR camera somewhere on the web—Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, wherever.
- Visit Stolen Camera Finder, and make sure the model of your missing camera is supported. You will find the full list here.
- If your camera is supported, find a photo you had previously taken with the missing camera. "Drag & Drop" the photo here. Once you've entered the photo, Stolen Camera Finder will read the unique serial number from the exif data of the photo, and use it to match against serial numbers the database has stored by crawling the web.
- No photo to drag & drop? Try to find the serial number on the original box the camera came in, or on the guarantee/warranty certificate, and manually enter it here.
If you don't have a stolen camera, but you'd like to support the project, you can download the plugin here. By installing the plugin, you are allowing the project's web crawler to scrape every serial number of every photo you look at on the web, thus growing the Stolen Camera Finder database. Don't worry, it's free and it's invisible. And hopefully you'll never need to use it.