Stolen Gear - Robbing a "starving" (storm chaser)

cdcollura

EF5
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Messages
1,435
Location
Sunrise, Florida
Good evening everyone,

This is the sort of email and news that the storm chasing community either cries or vomits when they hear it. I listed the items below, before I tell my sickening story ... If any of these items turn up on EBay or something - LET ME KNOW, or call the Coral Gables (FL) Police Department at (305) 442-1600 and ask to speak with detective Ted Nguyen regarding case #05-1344.

Stolen: Sony HDR-FX1 HD Camcorder (Serial S01-1323375-A), Sony Vaio GRT100P Laptop (Serial A222593-J), Sony TRV100 D8 Camcorder, Canon Rebel 2000 SLR + Lenses, Fuji Finepix 3.8 digital camera, Sony camera hard case (housed the HDR-FX1 and accessories), and finally, and ICom T-81A Quad HT - This is well over $8,000.00 worth of gear off to some thugs ;-(

Last Thursday night (Feb 10) the Weathervine group and I were at the NY Film Festival for some demonstrations of videos and equipment used in this past years hurricane Charley interception. The demonstrations could not go any better, and to celebrate, we all decided to end the wonderful night by eating at TGI Fridays.

Ofcourse, like any storm chaser, our gear was packed away in our vehicles as we ate, locked-up, clubbed, alarms active, and in a well-lit area IN FRONT of TGI fridays.

I came out full and laughing and found my left passenger window smashed and all my items on the floor of the car missing ... And it's a big list.

First, a brand-new $4000 Sony FX-HDR1 HD camcorder is now in the proud hands of a drug dealer. Ouch.

Second, a Sony Vaio Laptop, with Street Atlas GPS, external floppy AND hard disk drives, inverters, and ofcourse, network cards and ballistic nylon case, all valued at over $2,500 is also feeding someone's crack-pipe right now.

Third, a camera hard-case containing an older D8 Sony TRV-110 Camcorder, Canon Rebel 2000 SLR with all lenses, a Fuji Finepix 3.8 Digital camera, plus cables, chargers, and accessories boosted another $1500+ to a kleptomaniac.

This all happening in a well-lit and patrolled parking lot, and $8,000 is a lot of money's worth of stuff to lose to some punk. As for me, I have been OUT OF WORK since July, and you know how I am paying my mortgage and other payments right now? Off my discover credit card! Ofcourse, no one touched the other two chaser's cars next to mine in that same lot ... Maybe 'cuz they are not 'unemployed'?

Ofcourse, trips to the plains are off this year, unless my stuff shows up or I win the lottery or something. I got family in the hospital with "no cure" type health problems, including my roomate and good friend, who may have to have both legs amputated with diabetes ... Meaning he has to move out too (less rent from his rented room). I gotta listen to my family calling me "Your so stipid for leaving all that stuff in your car!!" ... beautiful support to hear when you are literally pucking your guts out and cannot sleep for days.

I really wish someone will catch criminals like this, who steal from people who are already struggling. If I was the police, I would simply gut this punk like a pig (or send him to Iraq and have home tortured)!

---------------------

Hello all, just updating on what the heck went on with replacing my gear...

First of all, and to no suprise, it was NEVER recovered. Pawn shops, EBay, crack-houses, you name it, the police never came up with anything - For what it's worth.

Second, my homeowners insurance, who told me to "calm down and don't worry, telling me they will replace my stuff", after going back and forth producing receipts and pictures of the stolen goods, finally told me that they found out I was a STORM CHASER ... And that since this is a JOB to take pictures and video, they assumed it as sales (business) purposes and DENIED my claim, after pussing it into a LONG investigation ... And GET THIS!!

I am being charged 3rd degree felony charges for "fraudulent / inconcise insurance claiming" because I did not disclose the money I made for DVD sales during hurricane Charley in which most of the stolen equipment was NOT used in it!!

Now, I may go to jail, yet the smelly drug-dealing thug has my stuff ... Aaahhh, what a wonderful world ;-)

Third, since my insurance DID process a claim, it shows on their file, whether you DO or DO NOT (as in this sad case) get money. The result, my homeowners insurance went from about 2,100 a year to 2,500 a year ... Goin' UP anyone??

Since I was lucky enough to finally find a job, and got some tax-money back at the same time, I am now going through the painful process of replacing my Sony Vaio laptop (with a K45 model - better than the stolen one anyway), Sony D8 camcorder (TRV120 off EBay) and both my stolen SLR and ditital with a single digital camera (Digital Canon Rebel 2000) since film cameras are not as hot these days anyway.

My next purchase is the big one, the Sony HDR-FX1, that I need to wait until just before May since I blew all my tax refund as of now replacing the items listed herein.

I am happy I am replacing my stuff, I am NOT happy because after all the comforting and lying I had to munch on by my ever-inflating premium homeowners insurance, I got, well you know, Poo Poo in return, and had to buy all the stolen stuff myself.

You pay for coverage, and you don't get it!

Meanwhile, some thug is doing drugs right now with the money he sold your stolen items for.

And the police ... Looks like giving out tickets is their expertise ;-(

Really disappointed in the insurance and law enforcement areas right now.

---------------------

Adding to this whole spiel about what happened with expensive gear stolen from me back in February 2005, I want to share some conclusions of the way "cheap" and un-reliable insurance companies my operate...

Living in Florida, now being a main target for hurricanes, I had a horrible time finding homeowners insurance in the first place (thanks to hurricane "Andrew" back in 1992). State Farm, Allstate, all those big "trustworthy" companies just would not write a NEW policy for me and my new home. After days (yes DAYS) of searching (I think there was even a commercial making "fun" of this with a young man looking for (car) insurance, with him on the phone and never having any luck finding it), I finally found a company to cover my home.

It was called Tower Hill Insurance out of Gainseville, FL. So if anyone of you is shopping for insurance, Tower Hill now should raise a RED FLAG. Since I had such a lousy experience with them, I already told 4 people interested in them not to consider them. So they just lost 4 potential customers because of me (I feel a lil' better).

75be0b3360f45e8f120a1a4c8938f4be.jpg

My stolen items, and what WAS actually used to make "any" money (denoted by an asterisk). In parenthesis is the original cost and depreciated cost (at time of theft), deparated by a "/". Values are approximate.

1. Sony Vaio Laptop GRT P4 series ($1,600 / $1,000).
2. Sony TRV-110 D8 Camcorder* ($900 / $100).
3. Fuji Finepix 3.8 MP digital Camera ($300 / $250).
4. Canon Rebel 2000 SLR w/ lenses ($500 / $300).
5. Icom T-81A Quad-band HT ($600 / $300).
6. Sony HDR-FX1 HD Camcorder ($3,700 / $3,600).
7. Misc, cases, memory cards, etc. ($1,000 / $200).
8. And more "stuff" in the "bag of tricks" ;-(

* As you see, the TRV110 was used to make money as it was used in the hurricane Charley DVD stuff. Also notice that this item, with depreciation, was the least asset ($100 out of $5,750 in value, with depreciation factored in) in the stolen batch of items!!

The insurance "saw" this MUCH different ... As if it was ONE item, and ALL of the items in it used for business (since money WAS made from hurricane chasing), even though there were many items (all in one "jackpot-for-thiefs special" bag).

The HDR-FX1 was only used for 4 weeks on PERSONAL stuff and not even used in a single storm chase at the time of theft.

Like the old expression goes "You get what you paid for."

This insurance was a cheap and "no frills" kind of company, but literally was the ONLY one I could find (yes, I went through JUA, Joint Underwriters, and all that too). So it was not me being "cheap" or anything, but because there was NO ONE ELSE to "cover" me.

Sure enough, when I needed their help, they were more interested in NOT PAYING for my claim and using the excuse that (some) of the equipment was used for my "career" of "storm chasing" ... And it WORKED, as not only was my claim withdrawn, but charges pressed against me for "fraud", which is a 3rd degree felony in FL.

Nice outcome, I (yes, ME, not the thieves - ME) am in trouble, my insurance gave me S*** (no money), my Discover credit-card now bears the "bill" for my replaced gear, and someone in Miami has my stuff (or sold it by now).

I can swear on my mom's life that had I had State Farm or Allstate for my homeowners insurance, none of this would have happened. They would have replaced my stuff, never questioned anything, never sent my claim to "investigation".

State Farm insurance DID cover my vehicle, and two windows were replaced by noon the SAME day the breakin occurred, no questions asked, and didn't cost me a penny of the $658 dollars for the rapairs. No investigation, not "head games", just the SERVICE I needed.

Ever choose FAST FOOD over a restaurant? Notice that you get your food faster but the order is never right? Notice 20 people in line and only one out of four registers open? Bad SERVICE. Insurance is no different.

A word from the wise, PURCHASE insurance from a REPUTABLE and RENOWNED company. If you live in Florida, you just may be S.O.L. (S*** Out Of Luck), unless you move or something ;-(

Yes, this is very UNFAIR. I had no choice, just could not find insurance, until I settled for "fast insurance" (no pun on "fast food").

You wanna live in the tropics? You wanna laugh at your freezing, snowed-in friends up north in February while sitting under a palm tree? Sorry, Pay the price! I did.

I SHOULD not have to be that way ... FL should have more insurance for homeowners, even if you have to pay a little more.

Meanwhile (as of 7-5-2005), tropical storms Cindy and Dennis are in the Caribbean, Dennis may hit FL, and it is only July 5. Did you know that this is the first time in history 4 named storms developed in the Atlantic by or before July 5?

Is this the Atlantic or West Pacific?

Cheap insurance companies in Florida now have another "excuse" to screw.

---------------------

Chris Collura - KG4PJN
www.sky-chaser.com
[email protected]
 
Chris,

Did you not have renter's insurance? I can't speak for other companies, but my policy under USAA covers theft from my motor vehicle. $16 a month can get you protection for several dozen K of property. I would suggest for all chasers to at least check out what their insurance companies offer... for the amount of equipment we have, it is well worth it if the worst happens.


BTW: Hope the cops find your stuff... you never know.

Aaron
 
Chris,

I really, really feel for you man. That just plain sux. I don't know what I'd do if someone stole that much stuff from me. I'm sure I'd freak though.

Keep a close eye on pawn shops and such in that area. Often these thieves are stealing to support their crack habit and will sell stuff like this to pawn shops for next to nothing. They aren't worried about getting a fair price, just their next fix.

Again, I will be hoping all of your stuff is recovered and it perfect condition.

-George
 
Chris,

That sucks horribly, dude. I'm terribly sorry to hear about your misfortune. If something along those lines does turn up on eBay, I'll definately help you out! I wish your situation had turned out like mine did, where my car was recovered and all my stuff piled safely in the front seat, only damaging the mounting from which they tore them from. As for the mentioned insurance, I, too, have that coverage for my major equipment for less than $20/month; all equipment specifically listed with my insurance company for situations such as that. I understand money's very tight, but in future events, definately worth the investment. In the meantime, keep your head up and I'll keep a prayer or two on reserve for you in hopes that things start to smooth out, not only with this case, but with your outside situations. Keep the faith, dude.. as hard as it may be to believe, sometimes things like this happen for a reason. Hopefully a good reason will come form this very soon.

Take care,
Tony
 
Chris,

This sucks, buddy. Sorry this happened to you. You might consider posting all this info on wx-chase, which still has a pretty large distribution. This particular topic in ST might not get too many views.

I was also thinking that if they try to sell a used HD camcorder, that's going to be pretty conspicuous, no?

Amos
 
That's really depressing... sorry to hear that. It's got to be one of the most sickening things I've heard on Stormtrack. But with gear this expensive, the guy's options are kind of limited: area pawn shops, classifieds, or eBay, unless he's trying to dump it cheap for a quick high. I hope the stuff turns up.

Tim
 
Chris, I am sorry. That really sucks. Like the previous posters, that equipment, especially the Sony FX-HDR1 HD is fairly unusual. Watching Ebay and local pawn shops should be beneficial. I hope they catch those useless dirtbags (and you get your equipment back in one piece).


Bill Hark
 
That sucks. Been there though. Had 5 laptops taken several years ago out of our van. Got them back only because thy had tracking chips. Bab guys got 5years. Hope yours turns out ok.

:x
 
Chris,

That is bad news indeed! :evil:

In New York no less. That probalby makes it worse. The BG's will most likely be able to fence the equipment out and never go through a pawnshop or E-Bay. I hate the bearer of bad news to make it worse, but that's the way I see it.

That doesn't mean don't look. Keep watching E-Bay and it might turn up at some point. Pawn Shops are generally required to reports pawn tickets to the local police who are supposed to check serial numbers and the like against NCIC. The keyword is "Supposed" to.

I do hope that you get your equipment back. It would renew my faith in LE and certainly give you a needed boost. I personally think I would be setting up an ambush on the BG's though.
 
Chris that is harsh...really sorry that happened to you! TGI's or an adjacent business wouldn't happen to have security cameras out there by chance? Or perhaps the thieves may have been customers that someone who works there remembers?

Re: renters insurance someone mentioned - cameras, jewelry, furs...that stuff might have to be scheduled on a separate rider. However, definitely worth checking out...

I hope things turn around quickly for you!
 
:( i feel your pain... I have nice equipment that i have invested alot into as well.. I have anxiety all the time about it being taken..

Lesson learned is when possible stash your belongings in the trunk.. Out of site out of mind..

Hope they find your gear dude.. Could it be someone you know?? possibly?? someone that you interacted with that could have known about your camera in particular?
 
Lesson learned is when possible stash your belongings in the trunk.. Out of site out of mind..

That's hard to do with the SUVs, and those roll-out tonneau covers some SUVs provide in the back almost make it look more obvious that there is something valuable being hidden underneath. Somebody here had the idea of stashing camera gear in a cooler. That seems like a good idea to me, some nondescript blue cooler from Walmart sitting on the seat might look less likely to contain valuables. I don't know though, maybe thieves are onto this trick.
 
I thought the same thing.. SUV or I think he said he had a stationwagon at his website.. Of course a trunk isnt and option in these scenarios.

Out fo sight out of mind is a good practice though if possible.. The cooler is a good idea Susan..
maybe we could slap a biohjazard sticker on the side of it?? Lol.. Or maybe not.. they might wanna steal that too.. lol
 
To hide the camera and laptop I almost always have in my vehicle, I put it on the back floor with an OLD jacket just thrown on top and then a couple of empty crushed soda cans on top of that. The best you can do to keep it 'outta sight, outta mind' the better!!
 
Im thinking an alarm on your car with a silent feature to page you when it is broken into. I wanna catch the fellar myself :)

I have a lincoln town car.. and the passenger side is dinged to hell from inconsiderate a*holes.. i would like to catch them just once doing that. What happened to the old world when you could beat someone up for stuff like that? Today Im afraid you would easily land in jail for slapping someone who dinged your Town Car, Caddi, Lexus, etc..
 
I have a lincoln town car.. and the passenger side is dinged to hell from inconsiderate a*holes..

That's one reason why I will likely never purchase a spendy vehicle. My current ride was a chaser's special, fully equipped with minor hail dents. No fear of the hail or dings. Too bad there are inconsiderate beings out there. I had a brand new rental that someone really dinged up. For some reason I spent the extra on the optional insurance so no worry.

Back to the original topic. I have seen too many busted out windows and have actually witnessed the act on more than one occasion. It only takes a perp about 5 seconds to bust out a window. They can easily cover any noise by turning up the base to some hip-hop slop in the get-away ride. You cannot leave much, if anything, in a car even if gone for just a short time. Some friends of the folks even took the liberty to put stuff in a trunk but they were watched and the perps busted the window and hit the trunk release. The professional crooks know everything there is to know about getting your stuff. Even if the goods are locked away in the trunk the perps could conceivable steal the car. On a chase stop I put my stuff in the trunk or carry it with me.
 
If I was traveling with expensive equipment that was not lockable in a trunk or even truck toolbox, I'd probably keep a Pelican (or of equal quality) case chained to my seats and locked shut with said equipment inside. Someone else on here suggested this, and implements it I believe.

Sorry for your loss, Chris. That really sucks, man.
 
awwww yes... A pelican cabled to a seat bracket would stop them for a few minutes possibly.. If I had that with my silent alarm to my pager.. we would be in business.. :lol:
 
More BAD NEWS On This TOPIC

Hello all, just updating on what the heck went on with replacing my gear...

First of all, and to no suprise, it was NEVER recovered. Pawn shops, EBay, crack-houses, you name it, the police never came up with anything - For what it's worth.

Second, my homeowners insurance, who told me to "calm down and don't worry, telling me they will replace my stuff", after going back and forth producing receipts and pictures of the stolen goods, finally told me that they found out I was a STORM CHASER ... And that since this is a JOB to take pictures and video, they assumed it as sales (business) purposes and DENIED my claim, after pussing it into a LONG investigation.

Third, since my insurance DID process a claim, it shows on their file, whenther you DO or DO NOT (as in this sad case) get money. The result, my homeowners insurance went from about 2,100 a year to 2,500 a year ... Goin' UP anyone??

Since I was lucky enough to finally find a job, and got some tax-money back at the same time, I am now going through the painful process of replacing my Sony Vaio laptop (with a K45 model - better than the stolen one anyway), Sony D8 camcorder (TRV120 off EBay) and both my stolen SLR and ditital with a single digital camera (Digital Canon Rebel 2000) since film cameras are not as hot these days anyway.

My next purchase is the big one, the Sony HDR-FX1, that I need to wait until just before May since I blew all my tax refund as of now replacing the items listed herein.

I am happy I am replacing my stuff, I am NOT happy because after all the comforting and lying I had to munch on by my ever-inflating premium homeowners insurance, I got, well you know, Poo Poo in return, and had to buy all the stolen stuff myself.

You pay for coverage, and you don't get it!

Meanwhile, some thug is doing drugs right now with the money he sold your stolen items for.

And the police ... Looks like giving out tickets is their expertise ;-(

Really disappointed in the insurance and law enforcement areas right now.

Chris Collura - KG4PJN
 
there is an car alarm system that comes with a remote that will beep or vibrate when your car gets broke into or even touched...

Viper 690 XV 2 way Car Alarm System

you might want to look into it.

At any rate, I wouldn't carry any expensive equipment without atleast an alarm system.
 
Originally posted by Kevin Koivula
there is an car alarm system that comes with a remote that will beep or vibrate when your car gets broke into or even touched...

Viper 690 XV 2 way Car Alarm System

you might want to look into it.

At any rate, I wouldn't carry any expensive equipment without atleast an alarm system.

I have (had, until a malfunction) a Clifford IntelliGuard 8000, full with motion sensor / ir sensor which could be set to detect motions within a foot or two of the vehicle. Car alarms seem to be more of a deterrent than anything else, since most people don't seem to pay any attn to them, which is all you have when you're out of listening range. Now, they do seem to have gotten more useful with the introduction of 2-way alarm systems. Such systems, as Kevin said, come with a (duh) 2-way remote, which allows you to keep track of the status of the alarm. For example, it will tell you if the alarm is going (or has gone) off. Unfortunately, I bought my alarm a couple of months before these systems debuted, so no 2way for me. Such two-way systems are now produced by most of the major alarm companies (which isn't saying much, since Directed Electronics owns many of the big alarm brands anyways, including Viper, Clifford, Python, Avital, and Hornet).
 
Re: More BAD NEWS On This TOPIC

Originally posted by cdcollura
Second, my homeowners insurance, who told me to \"calm down and don't worry, telling me they will replace my stuff\", after going back and forth producing receipts and pictures of the stolen goods, finally told me that they found out I was a STORM CHASER ... And that since this is a JOB to take pictures and video, they assumed it as sales (business) purposes and DENIED my claim, after pussing it into a LONG investigation.

Third, since my insurance DID process a claim, it shows on their file, whenther you DO or DO NOT (as in this sad case) get money. The result, my homeowners insurance went from about 2,100 a year to 2,500 a year ... Goin' UP anyone??

Was this your job, your main source of income (storm chasing)? If it wasn't, I would go back and try to dispute it. Sounds like the insurance company is using bad faith, something which is very common in the field.
 
That sucks. Is there some sort of appeal process? I agree with the poster above, storm chasing is not your main occupation.

The goal of insurance companies (medical, property etc.) is not to pay.

Bill Hark
 
Man that is really tough!!! You couldn't make up a story with more bad turns!!

I have insurance with Allstate. Since I do auto glass and I am very familiar with all the major insurance companies and how they work. I went with Allstate because of how fast and easy their claim dept. handles stuff. Also advice on extra insurance: Going from a $1000 deductible on comprehensive to a $0 deductible increases your rates on average $16 a month (Definatly worth it for us chasers). For those that don't know comprehensive covers theft, mother nature (hail, tornadoes, fire, flooding and even animals running out in front of you) and other freak accidents. Also I talked to my agent and added $5k worth of electronics insurance and listed it with them. I listed it as car audio because it is not a good idea to tell your insurance company that you intend to drive through large hail to get to a tornado and stay as close as possible without getting hit for as long as you can and as many times as you can, lol! Total was $12 a month and it covers anything that is either in the same place as the OEM version of the device or is permanently mounted. The laptop I have can be removed so it falls under home owners insurance. I really hope you find your equipment and hope this posts helps someone in case it happens to them.

I will surely be watching ebay since I am shopping for a camcorder anyway and if I see anything I will let you know.
 
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