Losing a beloved gadget is always tragic. And what’s more is beloved for a Photographer than his camera? Imagine his plight when he loses his camera in a cab or someone steals it mercilessly from him. Well, what can he do when something like that happens? The most common and recommended advice is to report the loss/theft to the local police and hope they help him get back his camera. But there is one more important advice we have today – Search online!
2 Websites to Track Your Lost or Stolen Camera
There are two helpful websites which can help you track and possibly recover your stolen camera. Both of them are based on the fact that every camera has a serial number, which are supposed to be unique. And many cameras (specially the new ones) embed this serial number in the images they take. Now there is every chance that the thief or someone who bought it from the thief, could be using your camera. If at all that person uploads some images taken from that stolen camera of yours on to the web, these services can help you track your camera by searching through online images.
The serial numbers are normally included in the metadata with which every picture taken by the camera is tagged. Websites like Flickr, Photobucket, Google+ etc retain and record this metadata when the photos are uploaded. This is where GadgetTrak’s Serial Search comes into the game. They have collected almost 10 million unique serial numbers from the images available on the web till now. Mind you, they are still in beta right now.
All you need to do is, visit the website and then enter a camera’s serial number and see if your photos register. In case you do not know the serial number of your camera, you can just right click on one of the photos you had taken from that camera, then click on EXIF details and look for the Serial number there.
What more, they even have an iOS app, which helps you track your iPhone by remotely capturing a photo of the thief using the iPhone camera!
Another service which is pretty similar to GadgetTrak is Matt Burns’ StolenCameraFinder. Though it is also based on searching for the unique Serial number, the interface is much more interesting and appealing. Users can simply drag and drop a photo without having to look for the serial number and the service will do the rest – i.e capture the serial number and search in its database for any match.
Some basic tips:
- Here is a list of camera models supported.
- You can also use these services to see if anyone is (mis)using your images on the web without your consent.
- Thieves can change the EXIF data using some tools available. But the chances are slim though.
- Some manufacturers use the same serial numbers for several models. You don’t want the wrong person to be accused.
Update: Another similar lost camera tracker service is CameraFound.com