Sunday, 28 February 2010


You know the unfortunate theft of photographic equipment of our fellow Christian Maury few days ago. After posting the story on the web, another friend photographer who lives in the neighbourhood of the robbery phoned me. "I have researched and I learned that behind the thefts of its kind, in the Plaça de Sant Pere and environs, are some Pakistanis. These thefts are done by a group of Algerian minors, to whom the Pakistanis give small bonuses for each "trophy" obtained.
A few years ago in Barcelona, I worked as an assistant for Magnum’s photographer, Harry Gruyaert, who often works with Leica. He told me that long ago, on the Ramblas, a group of North Africans had stolen his camera bag. He tried to pursuit them, but another put his heel and made Harry fall.
On one occasion, one of the great investigative journalists of Barcelona, told me that on a story about the underworld of the Catalan capital had got surprising information. A mafia organization employed North African youths to rob ... Leicas! A camera very easy to sell, second handed, all over the world. The children had learned to identify the mythical camera and followed their owners waiting for the moment to deprive them from the precious booty.
This story has a sad end. Years later I went to see Harry Gruyaert inaugurating an exhibition of his emblematic colour photos of Morocco in the Palau de la Virreina, in Barcelona’s Ramblas .a few days later, when photographed with his Leica in the MACBA Square, was robbed in broad daylight . 4 young North Africans pounced on him, threw him to the ground and took away his photo equipment.

You can imagine my grief and shame, about the same thing, happening to Harry in my hometown.

I want to make very clear my respect for Pakistani and North African communities to which, like many other emigrants, the crisis is affecting in a particular way. Nothing further from my intention to provide further fuel for a xenophobic discourse. If I mentioned individuals from these two communities, is because I think it is a significant contribution, from very reliable sources, to the article on the theft of cameras.

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