Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Overwhelmed thanks and an important note

First things first: thank you. Everyone. This site has had thousands of hits and we've been contacted by a lot of people with sadly similar stories of theft. "Rent to steal" appears to be an all too common occurrence and figuring out how best to protect ourselves going forward is paramount. For now, getting the word out there is the best option.

However, I need to make an important clarification: the thieves are stealing identities of real companies and real people in some of these instances. Kevin Lear is a real person in the UK and The Filming Company Ltd is a real company. Mr. Lear has been as shocked as anyone to discover that his name and company have been used in multiple thefts in Israel and the US. While it's important to get the details of the thefts out there it should be noted that honest people are being affected in ways that are not as apparent as large scale loss of equipment.

Again, the REAL Kevin Lear and his company, The Filming Co Ltd, flat out told us that he had no knowledge of the thefts. He is a victim of these scumbags just as much as we are, as Broadcast Israel is, as Fletcher is.

"William Stickland" on the other hand? Thief. Liar. All around bastard.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Updated Information on Camera Thefts

Since our gear was stolen on February 12 we've been trying to come to terms with the theft. It's not easy. Anger, frustration, self-pity, fear, all these things run through your mind. So we decided to channel some of that (mainly the anger part) into doing what we could to get the word out about what happened and see what we could do about catching the thieves.

If any of this is familiar to you, if you've been a victim of a theft under similar circumstances, PLEASE CONTACT US at or contact your local police.

What we've been able to uncover is staggering.
  • The thieves were co-opting the name of a REAL person and a REAL company in the UK. Kevin Lear of The Filming Co Ltd is real and appears to have nothing to do with the theft. He is as shocked by all this as we are and has reported the identity theft to his local police in the UK.
  • On February 10 one of the same thieves who stole our equipment stole a very similar equipment package in Israel: I've spoken to this company and confirmed the description of the man, that he used the name "William Stickland" and I am awaiting a copy of the passport that Broadcast Israel took when the thief arrived. Broadcast Israel has been able to confirm "William Stickland" flew out of Israel the next day.
  • On February 19 the same thieves that stole our gear stole an almost identical camera package from a large rental house in Chicago. I've spoken with that rental house and confirmed that the description of the thieves and the M.O. is exactly the same.
  • I've been told by law enforcement that this is all being linked to other thefts in New York, California, Texas and Florida -- there are common threads although the two thieves that took our gear are not present every time. This is a large ring or professional criminals.
  • I've also been told that there are links to thefts throughout Europe and even possibly China. One location confirmed as linked is a theft in Croatia which would appear to be the theft mentioned in the second article on this page: I also received a forwarded email from the company in Croatia that includes a passport photo. The email is copied in it's entirety below:

Please read and send to all your colleagues!!!!!!!!




- RED ONE sn.1958

- Top mount x2, universal mount, top handle 19mm rods 30cm x2, 19mm rods 45cm, ET ARRI 19mm base plate, RED arm for 5,6’ RED LCD, ET SDI break out box.

- RED cradle with Bebob ML 120 hot swap adapter


- RED 5,6’ LCD

- ET EVF holder

- Mini xlr to XLR audio cable

- EVF cable

- LCD cable

- HDD cable x2

- Side handle x2

- Bondhus 3/16 and 7/32 tool

- RED raid 320 GB x2 with power supply

- RED battery x5

- RED charger

- Elpac power supply for RED


- RED ONE sn.4990

- Top mount x2, universal mount, top handle 19mm rods 30cm x2, 19mm rods 45cm, ET ARRI 19mm base plate, RED arm for 5,6’ RED LCD, ET SDI break out box.

- RED cradle with Bebob ML 120 hot swap adapter


- RED 5,6’ LCD

- ET EVF holder

- Mini xlr to XLR audio cable

- EVF cable

- LCD cable

- HDD cable x2

- Side handle x2

- Bondhus 3/16 and 7/32 tool

- Time Code cable

- RED raid 320 GB x2 with power supply

- Mac Book Pro, power supply

- RED battery x5

- Bebob charger


-16mm No:8871219

-20mm No:8888993

-24mm No:8889092

-32mm No:8889085


-40mm No:8878315

-50mm No:8889480

-65mm No:8878175

-85mm No:8878263

-100mm No:8877972

-135mm No:8870884

- adepter rings for MB-16, MB- 14

Equipment was stolen 26.01.2011. form Croatian production company. The fraudsters use the name of company All Together Films or Alltogether Limited from London.


Attached please find the passport photo of one of the fraudsters.

If you have any information about this equipment please contact us:

Davor Tunukovic

General Manager

Tel: +385 1 6184 731

GSM: +385 98 228 591

TUNA FILM – E d.o.o.

Ulica grada Vukovara 269

10 000 ZAGREB



This is organized crime. It's not some schmucks stealing whatever they can get their hands on, it isn't crime of opportunity. This is a group of individuals looking for specific high end cameras. Here is their confirmed M.O.:

  • The thieves set up a fake company or steal an identity -- the common thread appears to be that it is based in the United Kingdom.
  • The thieves contact the rental company and proceed to order a rental -- they're specific and know what they want.
  • The thieves offer insurance and will provide it -- that insurance policy has been procured locally, usually from a source recommended by the rental house.
  • The thieves offer to pay by wire transfer. A wire transfer document will be emailed that appears to show confirmation of a transfer being initiated by a bank out of the UK.
  • The thieves arrive to pick up the gear. They're British, present well and have knowledge of what they're there to pick up. Twice they have arrived by taxi.
  • They're willing to present a credit card or passport.
The best deterrent is knowledge. Get this information to your rental houses. Pass it around your friends and colleagues. This isn't a localized problem, this is an international problem and these criminals are prepared and bold. The guys that hit us flew in and out of Israel and the US with the specific intention of stealing high end production equipment and then somehow got that gear out of the countries.

Many facets of law enforcement are working on this case and the possibility that these guys are moving around the world with fake passports is garnering some real attention. But this industry needs to protect itself. We need to make sure that this can't happen. Because, as we're learning, the insurance you have may not be worth very much -- that's going to be a separate post some time next week. If you are a rental house or if you do rent your gear out, though, make sure you're covered for this type of situation.

We're sick about this. We were even more sick when we heard the thieves who did us did someone else a week later. We don't want this to happen again. Let's make sure it doesn't.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stolen Camera Equipment

We're creating this blog to get out information on how over a quarter of a million dollars worth of camera, lenses, monitors and support equipment was stolen from Visual Edge Productions on February 12, 2011 and our subsequent experiences reporting and dealing with the theft. While we have little expectation on the equipment being recovered we were stunned to discover exactly how thorough the thieves were. If this blog serves only to enlighten and warn others so that they aren't the victim of this type of crime and also how to better protect themselves in the event of this happening then we'll feel a little better.

Before I get into this I should say that if you came across this blog because these criminals contacted you or stole from you we'd love to hear from you. We can be reached at

On February 7, 2011 we were contacted by a gentleman with the email address He was looking to rent two Sony HDW-F900R camera packages with lenses, tripods, monitors, batteries, chargers and AC power supplies. We refined the package over the course of multiple phone calls and emails and finally had everything they required. As the value of the equipment was roughly $275,000 (and it's standard practice for any rental) we asked that they provide insurance in the event of damage or loss. The gentleman contacted a local firm in Maryland that I recommended and was able to procure insurance though that company -- we were sent a certificate of insurance for our records that covered the period of the rental. We also requested payment via credit card. The gentleman suggested a wire transfer to our bank which we agreed to and we received a confirmation of the wire transfer on February 11, 2011.

At 1:30pm on Saturday February 12 two guys pulled up at our office in a taxi:
  • "William Stickland" was roughly 5'8" tall with messy gray hair, roughly 150-160lbs, spoke with a mumbling possibly Irish accent and wore glasses, a dark suit and dark shoes.
  • The other man, whose name I didn't catch, was black, roughly 6'1" tall, about 240lbs, with short dark hair and had a mustache and small beard. He wore blue jeans, a dark T-shirt, sneakers and a light jacket.
They entered the office and proceeded to check out the equipment:

(1) Sony HDW-F900R (#10235) with black and white HD viewfinder in a Portabrace camera bag
(1) Sony HDW-F900 version 3 (#10225) with black and white HD viewfinder (#10580) and Miranda DVC-800 (#061999-13424008) in a Portabrace camera bag
(1) Fujinon 22x7.8 HD lens (#381020)
(1) Fujinon 17x7.6 HD lens
(1) Fujinon 13x4.5 HD lens (#440212)
(2) Panasonic BT-LH900 8.4” HD monitors (#J5TWA1053) with (2) short BNC cables, (2) long BNC cables, (2) P-Tap cables in Pelican 1450 cases
(2) Sachtler carbon fiber tripods with off-ground spreaders and Sachtler 20 fluid heads
(2) Sony camera plates with Sachtler wedges
(4) Anton Bauer Dionic 160 batteries (#28841, 30385, 28840, 30386)
(2) Anton Bauer Dionic 90 batteries
(2) Anton Bauer 2722 dual position chargers (#5386 & 4880) with AC cables and 4-pin XLR power cables
(2) Anton Bauer Titan AC power supplies/chargers with AC cables
(1) Pelican 1550 case (had all the batteries and chargers in it)

We'll update this list with other serial numbers as we locate them.

The guys went through the equipment, knew what they were here to pick up, asked a couple of technical questions (power supplies, what type of monitors they were getting, additional video cables) and loaded the gear into the taxi. I talked with "William Stickland" about their shoot and he told me it was about Irish travelers -- the irony of such a stereotype being used to front the theft is not lost on us...

I made a copy of the credit card provided, which matched the name "William" gave me, had him sign two copies of the rental agreement detailing the equipment they were taking and they left.

We never saw them or the equipment again.

The equipment was meant to be returned on Monday February 14. At about 1pm that day we realized that the wire transfer still hadn't come through and so called our bank to check to see if it was pending -- it wasn't. I checked with the firm who had insured the rental at 1:25pm to see if the banking information they had received (they were paid via wire transfer as well) matched our information. The representative there let me know they'd agreed to the wire transfer and activated the policy based on the confirmation of initiation alone. We started to worry.

We called the bank in the UK to check on the status of the transfer. They couldn't find the account number (wrong number of digits) and had no record of a transfer for the rental amount pending.

We called the bank for the credit card we had and discovered it's not a credit card, it's a debit card - Visa Electron cards are tied to an account and no credit is offered with such an account.

We called and called and emailed and emailed the gentleman who had set up the rental with no response.

At 8:45pm we knew we'd been robbed.

We called the representative at the insurance company at that time and left her a message that we felt there was a major problem and they should start the wheels turning on their end.

The next morning, Tuesday February 15, there had still been no answer from the renters and the equipment was not returned. We received a call back from the insurance representative and we informed her that it appears the gear had been stolen. The responses were not encouraging and I let her know I was going to call our insurance company and the police. I called our insurance broker for advice, she told me to contact the claim division at our insurance company and call the police. As I knew I would need a police case number for the claim I call Montgomery County, MD police first and reported the theft.

An officer arrived within thirty minutes and spent the next hour+ taking a statement. We gave him all the information we had and he gave us a case number. I then called our insurance form and filed a claim. The person taking the claim took the information, told me an adjuster would be in touch and that they would have answers to our (many) questions.

It's now February 18.

A detective has been assigned to the case and we've sent him all the information. We've filed a report with the FBI who are investigating the report for merit for investigation. We called Dulles Airport police (the taxi was from Dulles) and US customs and the TSA and nobody was interested.

We called UK Customs and they at least took all the information to create a detailed report. But there's nothing they can do without an official request from law enforcement in the US.

Through our own initiative we've been able to find out some details surrounding the theft which we'll fill in as we go forward. We'd like to believe that it may help. Finding someone who gives a damn is proving difficult.

If you've been the victim of a theft under the same circumstances or have had dealings with "William Stickland" or if the description of the two men who took the gear is familiar to you PLEASE CONTACT US AT

We're not expecting to get the gear back -- it's probably on the other side of the world or in a locker somewhere in the UK or being used to shoot some crappy film. But we'd like to make sure everyone is aware of these people. We'd like to make sure that if you ever find yourself in this situation you are protected. And, more than anything, we'd like to have a part in putting these bastards in jail.