In 2012, I got mugged and lost two cameras at once. A year later, I lost three.

In my previous story (see Travel Memory #21), I described how I got mugged in Turin during my first Interrail trip. In the mugging, I lost both a system camera that was hanging on my neck and a compact camera that was in my pocket.

A year later, I was traveling with three cameras in my backpack…

A Well-Slept Night

In 2013, my friend Olli and I did a project called On the Road of Dreams (see Travel Memory #3). In the project, Olli and I traveled around Europe on trains for 20 days, asking 1,000 people to write their daydreams on postcards.

Our first train journey almost ruined the project. We started the trip by taking a ferry from Finland to Stockholm, Sweden. From Stockholm, we took a night train to Malmö near Denmark. To save money, we didn’t pay for a cabin on the train, opting to sleep on regular seats instead.

We put our backpacks in the overhead compartments above us, only keeping valuables like phones and wallets on us. However, I did leave three cameras in my backpack. One was a SLR camera that I had bought with insurance money from my mugging. The two others were a GoPro and a video camera we had borrowed for the project.

I slept relatively well. To block any distractions, I used earplugs and slept with a jacket on my face. At some point during the night, I woke up to a woman walking along the corridor, asking “have you seen anything?” from passengers. I had been asleep and I didn’t know what was going on, so I ignored the question and continued sleeping.

I also remember hearing some announcements during the night. I didn’t pay attention to their contents.

It’s a New Day

When we woke up, the train had already reached its destination and our carriage was practically empty. We took our backpacks from the overhead compartment and headed outside to the platform. Olli thought this would be a good place to shoot footage for our project, so he asked me to take the video camera from my backpack.

I opened my backpack and searched for the camera. I couldn’t find it.

In fact, I couldn’t find any cameras in my backpack. They had all been stolen during the night while we were fast asleep!

Sunset in Stockholm. My backpack was still full.

For a while, we wondered what to do. Then we decided to return to the train to look for the cameras even though we knew our odds were slim. We also decided to look for a train conductor whom we could tell about the theft.

The train had been at the station for a while by then, but we eventually managed to find one worker from his tiny office in the train. When we told him about the cameras, his face brightened up. As we described our cameras, he pulled up a plastic bag containing all three of them.

While We Were Sleeping

The train conductor told us what had happened during the night. While we were sleeping, thieves had opened my backpack and stolen our cameras. I don’t know if something else was stolen from others, but somehow the train staff learned about the thieves.

The way I remember it, the train staff made an announcement where they threatened to call the police. One of the workers also went through the carriages, asking passengers if they had seen something. This was the woman who had stirred me from my sleep.

Once the thefts were known, the culprits abandoned the things they had stolen. To not get caught, they put all our cameras in a plastic bag and threw them in the trash in one of the train toilets. 

Of course, this could have still been the end of our cameras. However, the train conductor we met in the morning had peeked in the rubbish bin during the night and found our cameras!

In the end, we were able to continue our journey to Copenhagen and I could keep taking lame pictures like this one.

Fortunately we got all three cameras back in the end. Still, I can say that I’ve experienced losing both two and three cameras at once. After these events, I haven’t had any valuables stolen from me.

Still, I’m not going to push my luck: you will never find me carrying four cameras at once.