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Oh No! My Camera was Stolen in Las Vegas

Canon camera kiss x3

Arriving in Las Vegas I was frazzled. Turning up at SFO airport the night before I was told that the flight was full – and my name wasn’t on the passenger list.

A few frantic phone calls I was on the next flight to Las Vegas, a day later than planned and my wallet already significantly lighter than planned; not exactly what I want when I had a full day pre-scheduled.

With an issue launch at a major Las Vegas magazine that evening I showered, changed and did my make-up in double time before having to run down the Strip in search of the hotel where the event was, but with the lure of the Internet I spent 10minutes online updating my status updates and downloading a few photos from my camera to share on my Facebook page before putting the camera behind the computer and running out the door.

If only I had known that would be the last time I was going to see my beloved Canon Rebel X3 then I would have locked it away.

Over the next three days I looked for my camera around the room but not seriously. I’d been to Vegas before and didn’t have much interest in taking photos of the barren desert or neon signs, and with fine weather I preferred to spend my days by the pool relaxing.

I continually assumed that it was in the hotel room – it seemed like a decent place if not on the cheaper side – but it wasn’t behind the laptop where I thought I’d left it. I guessed that it was deep into my suitcase and really, after breaking the lens shell in San Francisco I figured I needed a break from the camera, and it from I.

On the morning of our departure I slowly began packing my suitcase, and then tipping everything out and starting again. On the third pack and search of the room, my heart sank.

My camera was nowhere to be found.

I double and triple checked everywhere, even asking the girl with whom I was travelling with; I spoke to security at the hotel, reception, and housekeeping – No one had seen my camera.

As someone who’d never lost anything but a phone (which was left on board a plane) I was freaking out with what to do and I was sad.
San Francisco had been amazing and the SD card with all of the photos was in the camera – crap!

I’d deemed my hotel room a safe place to leave my camera during my night out and the following morning, but security lacked there whether it was from a hotel staff member or the girl that I was sharing with.
Worst of all, there was no safe in the hotel room to lock my valuables even if I had considered that an option.

Finding a Police Station in Las Vegas was surprisingly difficult, so I left Nevada without filing a statuary declaration saying it was lost or stolen; after speaking to my family and my insurance company I found that this was a rookie error and was told to file it in the next town – Kingman, Arizona.

The case officer at the Police Station was somewhat sympathetic as she took me through the process of filing for a stolen camera but told me truthfully that without knowledge or serial numbers – all in Australia – then was little to no chance of getting my camera back.

I was heartbroken.

Despite having a love/hate relationship with the camera since I purchased it, and later found out that I was ripped off in Hong Kong, the camera had travelled the world with me for close to three years and I loved it.

Fast-forward 6-months and I had a new camera, but I still missed my little Rebel.

One thing that that trip taught me was the importance of good travel insurance to ensure that I can replace any items should I ever need to report a theft again (touch wood).

If you want to claim on travel insurance for goods that have been stolen you must have a Police report or Statutory Declaration from the nearest station, and remember to include items such as SD-cards, filters, and any lens that was attached to the camera in the list otherwise you may not be able to get anything back for them when making the claim.

I waited until I was back in Australia to claim on my travel insurance to ensure I had all of the receipts and other paperwork to accompany my camera and the other items. It’s also quite a paper-intensive exercise with plenty of forms to sign and fax, but the outcome is worth it.

After a few return emails and additional questions, it was deemed that 80% of the value of the camera and additions were paid back to me*. That was enough to cover the cost of my new camera, a Nikon D7000.

To this day I look at my accommodation options differently. Despite being stolen from a hotel room I now make a point of not staying in hostels and prefer to stay in “safe” hotels that I pick with care.

I always make sure my travel insurance policy is up-to-date and has a ‘lost & stolen item’ budget that will cover the value of the items I travel with – just in case, and one of my credit cards also offers me a backup insurance plan for any reason that the travel insurance doesn’t cover at no extra cost.

Travel insurance is often seen as an optional painful expense when you’re travelling, but even if you have only one item of value lost, damaged or stolen during your travels I can personally assure you that you’d rather spend the extra money to ensure you’re covered rather than be left in the dark and out of pocket if something bad would happen.

Have you ever had to claim on travel insurance?

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Please note: Different insurance companies and circumstances surrounding claims will offer you different percentages of the value of the item/s stolen.

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Hogga
    June 25, 2013 at 5:20 am

    that is so upsetting 🙁

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Indeed, it was pretty upsetting!

  • Reply
    nicole
    June 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

    that is seriously not cool. And what sucks is you have NO idea what happened to it. If you had seen it drop and break in front of you, it would have been like, “well, that happened.” But to have no idea is just plain annoying.

    But I guess it’s good you had travel insurance. =)

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

      I agree – to have seen it broken would have been better than to have no knowledge.

      I think I would have been beside myself had I not had a good travel insurance company. Glad I did some research!

  • Reply
    Jayne
    June 26, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Oh no! Sorry to hear that Nicole.

    I am so lax about leaving things around my hotel rooms. Thanks for the reminder to be more careful in future x

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

      Please do be careful Jayne! You can never be too careful with valuables – the lessons I had to learn the hardway.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    So weird though that they (whoever “they” is) didn’t touch your laptop!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

      That’s exactly what I thought and part of the reason that I haven’t written about it before. I have a bad feeling that it may have been the girl I shared the room with… but with no evidence to substantiate my claim, well… yeah.
      Too many pieces of the puzzle come together if I factor that into the equation though.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

      I’m very lucky they didn’t take my laptop though – I would have chucked a giant tantrum if that had happened! Haha.

  • Reply
    Lilian
    July 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    That’s so awful. I feel so bad for you 🙁
    I never bother to hide my stuff away in hotel rooms, but I will from now on!

  • Reply
    Monica
    July 5, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Oh this is the worst. I had two cameras stolen in Java and I was absolutely devastated. The worst thing was that I’d just climbed Mt Bromo, an active volcano and has hundreds of amazing photos. The second worst thing was that I was a cheap-skate backpacker and only had basic travel insurance so couldn’t make a claim.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    July 5, 2013 at 4:45 am

    That’s terrible! So strange that the culprit only took the camera and not also your laptop.

    Luckily, I’ve never had anything stolen from a hotel room. I use to safe to place smaller valuables when I need to leave them and larger things I tend to lock in my suitcase. You just never know.

  • Reply
    fotoeins | Henry
    July 5, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Sorry to read that your camera’s gone Nicole. I hope you get a replacement you’ll love just as much (or more)!

  • Reply
    Erin Bender (Travel With Bender)
    July 5, 2013 at 5:08 am

    Sucks. Sucks. Sux. We had a phone stolen in guatemala and the police report needs to be done in 24 hours with our Aust insurance company. Finding a police station in Guat that speaks English was unbelievable. I feel your pain.

    http://travelwithbender.com/travel-blog/guatemala/pickpocketed-in-antigua-guatemala/

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    July 5, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Having your camera stolen is a bummer. On my travels, even if my accommodations include a safe, I keep equipment like cameras and laptops zipped away in my luggage which is then placed in the closet, when I’m out of the room. Of course that doesn’t guarantee that it still won’t get stolen. But there’s a little bit of safety in making it as inconvenient as possible to access my stuff.

  • Reply
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam
    July 5, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Reason #473 not to stay in hostels. Sorry you got it nicked though.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      July 5, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Hi Raymond,
      I actually wasn’t staying in a hostel but in a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

      Now, regardless of where I stay, I’m a lot more careful with my belongings even when staying in hotels.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lucy
    September 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Aww thats a shame! I had a similar encounter during my stay in LA. During my first night at USA Hostels Hollywood my Nikon D700 and quite a few of my clothing items went missing. I was in a 6 bed female dorm and it just happened that someone broke into my locker while I went to do a bit of shopping on the boulevard. I contacted reception immediately after discovering that my items went missing. Its such a shame that no-one seemed to care and I never got my belongings back.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Jes
    October 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Maybe the maid swiped it? I try and take my valuables with me on daytrips out so it won’t get stolen then or when I’m sleeping in the room. I’d never stay in a hostel, thieves would love a place like that, filled with forgetful 20 somethings with more iGadgets than you can shake a stick at.

  • Reply
    Denise
    December 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    So sorry for the loss of your camera. I can imagine how devistating that must be. I keep all of my pics in mine as well. 🙁

    You mentioned picking beter hotels in the future. What did you mean by “Safe” hotels? What is a “hostel”

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