When KTVU reporter Katie Utehs and photojournalist Jacob Unger came back to the parking lot where they left their news van Sunday morning, they found the van was still there but some of their gear was missing.
According to SFGate, “When they returned to the van, they found that someone had smashed the locks on the passenger side and stolen a LiveU portable camera-backpack system used for live broadcasting, a laptop computer, a tripod and other gear.”
The pair had been covering an event in the Fruitvale District in Oakland.
This is the latest in a growing string of incidents involving news crews in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market.
In response, several TV stations, including KPIX, KRON and KGO, have hired security guards to accompany reporters and camera operators in Oakland. Many of the guards are retired police officers.
KTVU does not automatically send security guards out with its crews, but employees who are concerned about their safety can request the escorts, several KTVU staffers said.
One employee who didn’t wish to be identified said “We are afraid,” in light of recent confrontations involving the media. “Our crews continue to be crime victims.”
Several station employees said they were especially concerned about the situation because of talks to possibly use “one-man bands,” in which journalists handle multiple roles such as reporting, shooting video and editing.
KTVU News Director Lee Rosenthal said Monday, “Our record in protecting crews is very good.”
The crew in Sunday’s incident “didn’t feel the need to have security” while covering a public, daytime event, Rosenthal said. He added that the news van was parked in a lot outfitted with security cameras.
“We don’t have security on every story,” Rosenthal said. “I’m not going to go into our security policy…(but) We have security regularly available to all of our crews.”