Facilities firms across the country have fallen victim to a gang of fraudsters who have stolen Arri Alexa cameras and lenses worth an estimated £750,000.
The same group is thought to have taken kit from a handful of London facilities including Grain Media, Take 2 and Video Europe, as well as Picture Canning North in Newcastle, during a two-week spree of fraudulent hires.
A kit list sent by the gang to one of the hire companies details the equipment they have been targeting, including an Alexa, a selection of Arri/Zeiss Ultra Prime T1.9 lenses and a shooting kit of batteries, a matte box and tripods.
Picture Canning North company director Jamie Hutchinson said the kit taken from his facility alone was worth approximately £150,000.
“They went for all the high-value kit. It was an operation with overheads because they paid up front and paid insurance.
“They seemed to know how the hire industry operates, they knew exactly what they were after and how the TV and film industry works, and were comfortable talking about the project they were supposedly working on.”
The manager of another facility that was defrauded, who asked not to be named, said the gang went to “extreme lengths” by adopting the identities of people working in the TV and film industries, and cultivating relationships with producers who they asked to provide references for them.
Since its launch in 2010, the Alexa has grown in popularity to become the camera of choice for high-end productions, in particular drama.
A recent snap survey by Broadcast of a week in October revealed that seven out of 10 of the highest-rating drama programmes in the UK were shot with an Alexa.