HD Is Popular With Crooks, Too

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Las Vegas’ criminal element apparently has an eye for cutting-edge broadcasting technology.

At last month’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) confab, three high-definition cameras, valued at more than $50,000 each, were stolen from the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) in a matter of hours on the Thursday before the show, as exhibitors and convention workers set up booths to display vendors’ wares.

Ikegami had a $55,000 HDN-X10 disk-based HD camera and a $34,000 Canon hi-def lens lifted from its booth. Shotoku had a $50,000 Sony high-def camera swiped. Hardest hit was New York City-based dealer Abel CineTech, which lost a Panasonic hi-def Varicam worth $72,000, along with a $27,000 Panasonic standard-def camera and a $4,000 Panasonic MiniDV camera.

"When you pay all this money for a high-end convention like NAB, you figure the least thing that could happen is that there would be proper security," says CineTech VP Richard Abel, whose cameras were still boxed, shrink-wrapped and stacked on a pallet when they were taken.

NAB actually spent more than $350,000 on security this year, hiring 1,100 guards, says spokesman Dennis Wharton. While the dollar value of the items stolen this year is significant, Wharton concedes, the 17 thefts this year are down from 19 in 2005 and 31 in 2004.

Happily, some attempted thefts were foiled. LVCC security caught two men loading several large flat-screen monitors into a car outside the convention center in the early hours of April 28. And the day before, NL Technology President Jim McKain gave chase to a man who’d swiped a $100,000 Ikegami hi-def camera system from NL’s booth while a female accomplice distracted McKain with "suspicious questions."

"He broke into a run, and so did I," says McKain. "He got out to Paradise [Rd.], but he knew I was chasing him, so he put the camera down and ran across traffic to get away."

(At least he put it down gently; the camera was unharmed.)

When McKain returned to the LVCC and notified a security guard, however, he got little sympathy. Says McKain, "He started laughing at me."

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