Editor’s note: Illustrator, cartoonist, humorist and newbie photographer Ron Tocknell of Gloucester, England purchased a Flipside 200 to use on a very recent trip to Barcelona, Spain. He is exploring photography as his “retirement indulgence” and we’re thrilled he’s carrying one of our camera backpacks to pursue this new passion.
A plain-clothes officer of the Guardia approached him as he shot scenes of a busy marketplace and, well…we’ll let Ron tell his story about the Flipside 200 outfoxing some shady characters.
“On November 6th I was in Boqueria market on the Ramblas in Barcelona, hemmed in on all sides by the jostling crowds while taking ‘crowd shots’ of my wife and daughter. I was using a Canon EOS REBEL 300D with an 80-200mm zoom lens. I was carrying another 50mm lens in my Lowepro Flipside 200, which I had purchased specifically in anticipation of this trip to ‘pickpocket central’. As it so happened, I had left behind the gear I wouldn’t be using and packed only the camera and two lenses, as I would be switching back and forth between the two throughout the day. As the camera and larger lens was in use, the only contents of my bag were the 50mm lens (which I bought for £30 on EBay) and a pair of socks.
After several minutes of happy snapping in the market, a man who turned out to be a plain-clothes officer of the Guardia policing the area for pickpockets – for which this particular market is notorious – tapped me on the shoulder. Supported by a uniformed officer, he drew me aside. What had I done? Nothing apparently. I was, he explained, the victim.
Several members of the public had noticed two men attempting to access the contents of my backpack as I moved through the crowd blissfully unaware of their attentions. The men were (to quote the witnesses who alerted the police) ‘fiddling with the seams and appeared to be looking for the zip’. The men were apprehended by the plain-clothes officer and arrested as I moved on, unaware of this little drama until the officer caught up with me.
As he sat with me at a cafe table and filled out the necessary forms, I was asked to check the contents of my bag to ensure that nothing had been taken and passed on to an accomplice. They were a little alarmed at the obvious emptiness of my bag until I explained that this was indeed all it had contained. I showed them the construction of the bag with its zip concealed between the shoulder straps and inaccessible when being worn.
I was told I was ‘lucky’ to have such a bag as the men they had arrested were notorious, serial offenders and very skillful at removing the contents of backpacks without the wearer being aware. They targeted camera bags because the contents are invariably valuable and usually remove the contents swiftly and pass them on to accomplices.
In this instance, the more they tried to locate a zip, the more determined they became to get into my bag and what would normally have been a swift and barely noticeable theft became a drawn out pantomime of these two seasoned pickpockets tenaciously working on my bag as I moved through the crowd. This dogged determination is what drew attention to them and ultimately resulted in their arrest.
The ironic and poetic punchline is that, had these ‘seasoned’ and ‘skillful’ pickpockets been less determined they would not have been arrested. Their downfall was their refusal to let any bag get the better of them in an attempted theft that, if successful, would have yielded… a £30 lens and a pair of socks!
I want to thank Lowepro not only for designing a bag that defeats the most skillful and determined pickpockets, but also for making what would have been a stressful (albeit fruitless for the thieves) theft into one of the funniest and most memorable events of my entire holiday.”
— Ron Tocknell
Many thanks to Ron for taking the time and effort to relate his tale. So glad it had a happy ending!
If you’d like to get more information on our Flipside and Flipside Sport secure, body-side access backpacks, see the entire collection.