Input about stolen trail cameras - The Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Input about stolen trail cameras

I am excited to be getting my first trail cam for Christmas. I am not trying to pattern deer. I just want to get some good pictures so I am getting a high end model.

I will be putting it on public land so I would like to get some statistics from others who have had a trail cam stolen. I am hoping that this information will be helpful to everyone who puts out a trail cam.

How long was the trail cam out when it was stolen?
If most of the stolen cams were left out for a week or more, I could minimize the chance of theft by moving it every four days.

Was the stolen trail cam on a visible trail or in a heavily used area?
That will tell me if placement was a factor.

Was the stolen trail cam secured by a locked cable or chain?
That will tell me if security is effective.

What part of the year was the trail cam stolen?
That will tell me the best time to set out the trail cam.

Do you have any tips that will minimize theft?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 07:27 PM
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Do not put them out on public ground is tip #1.
Do not put anything out you can not risk getting stolen.
Lock them up if possible.
Put a cheap on in an area you like first to see if it will get stolen then you know if it will.
Mark the camera with your info.
I also mark them with a note on the front, "You may be able to steal this one, but how about the ones you do not see, Smile I just got your photo". Makes them think about it.
Lastly.... Take them out prior to rifle season!!!! They will walk! No matter what....

Sorry man, you got a 50-50 shot of them being there when you return.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 07:32 PM
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I've never had one stolen but I have had them tampered with.

I fashioned a cheap cable lock to mine that also lock the camera shut(to deter theft of the camera card).

I also avoid higher traffic areas, such as hiking trails, logging roads, etc...

I also generally avoid leaving them out during rifle season.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 09:22 PM
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I don't hunt on game lands or where theres lots of hunters around. I hunt on a private farm thats not posted so there are some hunters who do walk an hunt the area. What i do is mount the cameras up high tall enough i can reach the camera to pull the sd card and angle the camera downward. Its not as easy to see vs waist height.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 09:30 PM
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I've never had one stolen but had bears ruin 3 units.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 09:50 PM
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First one was stolen when I was ~15. Camera ran on D batteries and a roll of film. Less than one week after I got it, private ground in Renfrew, PA. Big middle finger to the d-bag that did it.

For about the next decade I cursed the things. Finally got another a couple years ago and been building a collection ever since. I have had two destroyed by bears, and one destroyed by ants. All of them are on public. I am rather paranoid about having them stolen to the extent that when I first got them, I couldn't even get good photos. I've since struck a balance in that I have some good setups, but they are very, very carefully chosen. These are some of my rules. Sounds like based on your questions you are on to most of the basic concepts.

Timing...Avoid bear opener through end of rifle season. Statistically this is when vast majority of hunters are in the woods. I also avoid turkey season in most areas just because it's a risk with no real payoff, bucks are barely sprouting antlers. Archery and small game seasons vary, situational awareness is key.

Traffic....Avoid high traffic areas. Period. A lot of areas I hunt are remote, and I am paranoid. There are some tracts of public I would consider putting a camera out on public a donation to the scum. I see you are from Pittsburgh...I know "victim shaming" is a foul these days, but I know a lot of public land around the 'Burgh, and I would consider anything within an hour "asking for it". Definitely no easy access trails or roads. No gamelands food plots. No scrapes in open areas. Especially September - May, when most guys are in the woods. I have a few spots I know I can be more bold in the summer. Virtually no one goes into the woods in the summer off trails.

Locks...I don't lock mine. The cables stick out like a sore thumb and if anyone really wants a camera, it isn't stopping them. Side story....I am out in the woods the day after Thanksgiving this year and come upon a group of dudes. I recognized one of them as a guy that passed a camera I placed the previous spring, and in doing so broke my own rule and made it too easy to access. He didn't take my cam, but cheezed for it in a humorous manner, so that was cool. As we parted after some small talk, I realize one of them is carrying a bolt cutter...I'm like what the #. Is there any legitimate reason to be carrying a bolt cutter into the woods? But the one guy had left my camera alone 10 months earlier, so I said whatever and carried on.

Break up the outline...Anyway, most of the time I hang mine in trees where surrounding branches will break up the outline. I carry a couple climbing sticks to do so. I like the vantage point from about 10 feet up better too. Other times I will mount it ground level but use branches or build a "nest" to break up the outline. I buy cameras with muted natural colors and use a sharpie to draw an ASAT style pattern on the housing and straps. At 20+ yards, this makes a tremendous difference, I've done side by side tests.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 10:02 PM
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I never had any stolen on public land but did have 2 SD cards stolen by the neighbor's dad in 9 years time. I'm now on posted private land and have had 5 stolen in the past 3 years. Pretty sure it's the neighbor camp. That's why I buy the cheap ones.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2017, 10:47 PM
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I had 2 stolen on public land so far. Both were not on readily visible trails. Both were in the woods for well over 6 months. First one was stolen 2 weeks before rifle season. 2nd one was stolen first weekend of fall turkey season. Both had viper locks and the one had the lock in a metal security box. Lessons learned. Locks will not stop anyone. They are only for honest people. Security boxes do not stop them either. Most effective thing I have done since then is mounting them 15-20 ft up a tree with my climbing sticks I use from archery season. Last, if you get any pictures of people, take it down and move to another area. Neither of two I had stolen had photos of people. Mounting them up higher also seems to be less noticeable from the deer also.

Last edited by JMackanick; 12-05-2017 at 10:51 PM.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the comments. It seems like the best way to avoid having a trail cam stolen on public property is to abide by the following:

- place tail cam off a beaten path
- try to conceal the trail cam
- hang it high and out of reach
- do not hang it when there is high activity
- secure it as best as possible

One thing that no one mentioned but I thought about; put out a decoy. If you have a trail cam that doesn't work, place it in the area of a working camera. If it is easier to find, I suspect someone might take it and not look for any others.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 05:32 PM
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Ive had 2 cams stolen. Both were on private land that I was supposedly the only person who had permission to be on it. I have 5 other cameras that I have on game lands that have never been touched. I have had them on game lands for 5 years almost all year long. I have them watching old logging roads or prominent game trails. I use small cameras (wildgame innovations terra 5 cameras). I put them high up in trees pointing downward, not straight down, but significantly down. I keep them way out of view of somebody who would be hunting. I keep them out of reach of 98% of the population. I only put them on trees that nobody else could climb without the use of a ladder. I put them far back enough in the woods where nobody would carry a ladder.
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