In break-in, wedding photographer loses the cameras central to his livelihood

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Joseph Esser of Kailua has won awards for his wedding photography. And he can remember the gear that he used to shoot each photo.

But now all of that equipment is gone.

On Tuesday afternoon, burglars broke in to his home, which includes his office where he kept his equipment and met with clients. The thieves were able to break a padlock to get through a gate, and then pried open a metal lined door that had a deadbolt lock.

"It must have taken an amazing amount of force to be able to pry that door off," said Esser, looking at the damaged door frame.

The burglars made off with four professional-grade cameras, including a Nikon D4S camera, two Nikon D700 cameras, and a Nikon FM film camera. they also took six expensive lenses, including an 85 mm f1.4 Nikon lens, a 105 mm f2.8 Nikon lens, a 14-24 f2.8 Nikon lens, a 50 mm Sigma 1.4 art lens, a 35 mm Sigma 1.4 art lens, and a Tokina fish eye lens.

In other words, all the equipment he was using to take photographs.

Esser has been renting the home for less than a year in what seems to be a quiet Kailua neighborhood. The home had no alarm system or surveillance cameras at the time of the burglary.

Honolulu Police Department crime statistics show several theft and burglaries in the area in the last three months, including eight burglaries within a mile of Esser's home.

"As a renter, sometimes you think, 'Should I be installing these things, like a security alarm or cameras?" he said. "And now I think of that same thing and think, why didn't I do that?"

The burglars also were able to break into the home itself and took several pieces of jewelry, including two Tahitian pearl necklaces. Esser intended to give one of the necklaces to his now 3-year-old daughter in the future.

"I had this dream of her 16th birthday, being able to give her this Tahitian pearl necklace," he said. "I had written a little note about all these things that I expected as a Dad and what I thought she would be like." The note and the necklace were in an unopened box.

The burglars did not take Esser's computers, so he still has the photos. And he's grateful for the support he's gotten from others in the wedding business community.

"I had photographers calling me, asking me, hey, what can I do? Do you need a loaner (camera)? Do you need me to shoot anything for you?"

So far, there's been no trace of the gear anywhere. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

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