You just bought a camera. Perhaps you spent hours deciding which one to buy, what features it has and then eventually learned how to use it. You’ve now invested your time and money. Now it’s time to take your new toy on an adventure, on the trail, river, vacation or daily activities.
And then it happens.
On the trail, you sit down for lunch, set the camera down and walk away. Or maybe you trusted that clip on your helmet to hold your camera against the forces of nature…and lost. Perhaps you just didn’t zip up your backpack properly and the camera fell out.
Your camera is now gone.
Label Your Stuff
What if someone found your camera? I find that most people are good-natured and would attempt to try to return the camera to you if they found it. But if they don’t know how to return it or to whom, your chances of getting your expensive camera back have gone from 50% to 0%.
- didn’t put their name on their camera
- didn’t put their phone number or address on the case
- didn’t leave an identifying card inside the case
Even with faith in the general human populous, most people have denied their potential hero the opportunity to help them.
I May Have Found Your Camera
I walk, hike, bike, dive and see the world. During those adventures, I usually find lost items many places I go. Among the items found are jewelry, sunglasses, fishing poles, collector’s items, stand up paddle board oars, dog leashes, a boat motor (yes, really), cameras, jackets, sweatshirts, boat anchors, shoes for kids, toys and all kinds of other random things. I even found a brand new iPhone on the edge of a river, nearly in the water. Very few of things I can return to the owner because there’s no way to identify who the owner might be.
I Try to Return Stuff
If I found your camera and it is still usable, I try to download the photos and see if there’s any way to identify the people in it – a place, a date, a name, anything. Then, I generally check Craigslist’s lost and found to see if anyone reported anything missing and honestly, not once has anyone reported anything missing. I’ve posted “found items” there as well, on a few items that I’m pretty sure someone would want back, and I’ve gotten…not one single reply.
Surely most people don’t have money to burn, do they?
Help Me Out
If you spend $400 on a camera, $50 on a paddleboard paddle or boat anchor, $800 on a boat motor, $300 on an iPhone or prescription sunglasses, put some identifying information on it in case you lose it. Like me, many people are happy to return it to you, but leave us a clue!
Mailing labels work great for dry items – stick one on the label of your jacket, the bottom of your camera, kids toys and other small items. It’s easy to do and you probably have several lying around the house. For under $.25 you might save your $400 camera.
For under a dollar, you can buy a Sharpie pen and write your information on canoe, kayak and river boat paddles, boat anchors, dog leashes, etc. Why lose a $50 paddle over $1?
For metal or plastic items, you can use a Dremel or rotary tool to engrave your name and information. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just legible. Frames on your sunglasses can be etched with some identifying marks – maybe even GPS coordinates or a return location if you don’t have a lot of room.
- Digital Contact Info
For your cameras, either save a file on the data card with your contact info, or take a picture of your mailing address, email or phone number in case the sticker wears off. You’ll have to add this every time you wipe your card, but since it’s costs $0.00 to do and may save you $100 – $3000, it might be worth it.
If you are traveling abroad or like your privacy, consider using an email or phone number as an identifier on your items. And if you lost something, post a notice somewhere public online – Craigslist, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter with a hashtag that matches some unique identifier on your item. Maybe someone who found your item might be trying to return it to you – help them help you.