Eddie Keogh, the award-winning Thomson Reuters sports photographer, survived a scare at the World Cup over the weekend, when someone attempted to steal £20,000-worth of camera equipment while he was covering the Colombia v Ivory Coast match in the group stage in Brasilia.
What made it worse for Keogh was that this was the second attempted snatch of his photography kit at a major sports event in two years.
SJA member Keogh said, “So for the second time in just over a year, someone has tried to nick my Canon cameras and 400mm lens.
“This Colombian had brought an empty Lowepro camera bag to the game with the intention of doing a bag swap and somehow managed to get on to the pitch after the game.
“Luckily, with the help of a FIFA official, we nabbed him.”
The arrest was captured on camera, but highlighted a worrying lapse in in-stadium security, since Keogh was working pitchside, which was supposed to be accessible only to accredited media and officials.
“I’ve got a sneaky feeling it wont be the last attempt while I’m here in Brazil,” Keogh said.
He speaks from bitter experience.
Last year, he was covering the Europa League Final in Amsterdam between Chelsea and Benfica.
“Those that have done these finals know it can get a bit messy at the end when the players come off the pitch with the trophy,” Keogh said.
“So I left my 400mm body by the ad boards alongside a few others as we join the scrum with short lenses. I returned two minutes later and it was gone. Now this has happened before, but it was a genuine mistake as cameras and Canon 400mms can look the same.
“So I forgot about taking pictures and worked as quickly as I could to scan who has 400mm lenses to see if they have mine by mistake. I check the pitch and the photographers’ room and as I return to where I left it, I see my monopod on the ground behind the ad board.
“My heart sank, because I knew for sure it’s been stolen. It’s possible I may have sworn.
“My head was spinning and then I remembered I hadn’t filed the last few pix of Fernando Torres and John Terry. I told the boys what had happened and Adrian Dennis of AFP pipes up, ‘Did you lose it when you were photographing John Terry with the trophy? Maybe his mum was on the pitch?’ I had to shake his hand, it was a cracker.
“The next step was to talk to stadium security and they very kindly sat me down with a lad who went through all the CCTV around the time of the theft. It took a while but eventually I spotted him pick up my lens, unscrew my monopod and drop it behind the ad board. The quality was very poor but at least we had a vague idea of his features and the exact time it went.
“My colleague at Reuters, Michael Kooren, then arranged for me to visit the editing suite of RTL (the Dutch TV station) and with the information we had it didn’t take too long before I leapt from the chair as I saw footage of him walking away with my lens. The television cameraman behind me knew his first name and then Michael confirmed his full name. Bingo!
“Early the next morning we visited the police station and after a lengthy statement they sent two detectives to the suspect’s house. It was a great feeling when I saw these guys walk back into the station with my gear. The guy’s name is Jeffrey Derksen – I’m letting you know as I wouldn’t want people guessing it might be another Dutch photographer that they work with. The Dutch police said he will be prosecuted.”
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