If you got a digital camera for the holidays, or already own one, take a moment and write down the serial number. That way GadgetTrak’s new CameraTrace service can help you recover it if it’s ever stolen. Launching today, for a one-time fee of $10 CameraTrace lets you register your camera’s serial number. If you later report it lost or stolen, you’ll be notified by email if anyone else tries to upload photos from it. You can also search CameraTrace’s serial number database of 5 billion photos for free. Both tools could help you track down unauthorized uploaders and get your gear back. Camera thieves beware, there’s a new sheriff in town.
The way it works is that almost all digital cameras imprint their serial number on the photos they shoot, which CameraTrace can detect when they’re posted online. Law enforcement can then be alerted to investigate.
The official launch of CameraTrace comes after several years of beta testing. Back in August, we wrote about how GadgetTrak reunited a professional photographer with over $9,000 worth of property. The company also offers a recovery service for laptops and phones that detects when they connect to the Internet.
For the launch, CameraTrace upped its crawling capabilities. Its database now includes 11 million cameras of 300 different models, and every photo uploaded to Flickr since 2006. CameraTrace stays up to date by scanning newly uploaded pics each day with CPUsage grid computing technology. GadgetTrak‘s CEO and founder Ken Westin tells me its database of photos is an order of magnitude larger than that of competitors like Stolen Camera Finder. This makes CameraTrace the best place to go if you ever get jacked.
The premium service includes a physical lost and found tag that can be applied to your camera. It features instructions so anyone who finds it can notify you through CameraTrace, and it also serves as a theft deterrent. Another advantage of the CamerTrace: it can help photographers locate where their copyrighted photos are displayed without permission.
But remember, all of CameraTrace’s services only work if you have have a copy of your serial number. It can typically be found on a camera’s base plate, inside the battery case, or in the box. Westin’s final tip? A huge number of cameras are stolen through auto break-ins, so lock your gear in the trunk.