Michael Gertschen was shooting astro-timelapse when one of his three cameras was nabbed by a thief. He captured the incident on camera and luckily the police were able to recover the stolen camera.

This short “making of Helvetia by Night” video shows you why it is not a good idea to leave expensive equipment unattended anytime. I was very lucky to get back a stolen camera and quite surprised so see the images on its card!

I set up 3 cameras to shoot the Perseids meteor shower in August 2012 and left the place to join a birthday party. I was shocked to miss one of them when I returned a couple hours later. No insurance would pay for such a loss. The other two cameras recorded the flashlight of the thief. I could tell the police that he spent exactly 37 minutes on the hill.

This information was less helpful than the fact, that the thief showed off his prey in public the same night. Witnesses told the police and he was caught. The thief climbed the hill to watch the stars without a bad intention but couldn’t resist to take something that did not belong to him.

I have to admit that providing such an opportunity was careless and partly my fault as well. After all, this annoying incident results in a quite funny time-lapse clip, so enjoy!

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I don’t know if I fully understand how this all happened. From what it seems, the 3 cameras were in completely different positions quite far from one another.
So the guy walks up to the top hill in the middle of night and finds a camera all stranded on a tripod with NOBODY around ( the owned was at a party ). He spends 30+ minutes on the hill and it seems that nobody is around.
Let’s be honest – can you actually blame him for taking the camera ?? He obviously didn’t know all that much about cameras and had no idea that the camera was actually shooting timelapse photos. He didn’t even turn it off as it was keep shooting and being a DSLR the shutter release noise was obvious I suppose.
Its like you walk up a dark street one night and you find an iPod right there on the sidewalk. You pick it up, stay 30 minutes in that place, nobody ever comes by… what do you do? You leave it there ?? Of course you TAKE IT AWAY !!
It’s solely the photographer’s fault here. I would think twice before considering this a THEFT. Yeah sure, the guy could have taken the camera to a police station telling them he found it, but let’s face it here, who would have really ??


could you describe a little about the technic and condition?
how many exposures/time, what settings on camera, what was the condition of the moon and other lighting, how long exposures etc.



Man, what a punk! I’m glad the guy got his camera back. And what a way to document one’s misfortune. All thievery aside, this is a beautiful little piece of filmmaking.

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