Canada Post thefts halt Lens Rentals Canada service

A company that rents out high-end digital camera equipment to clients across the country has suspended its service after several of its packages were stolen while being transported by Canada Post.

Expensive camera equipment allegedly stolen from Mississauga, Ont., facility

Lens Rentals Canada, a company that rents high-end camera lenses and other equipment to photographers across the country, has suspended its service after several of its packages were stolen at a Canada Post facility in Mississauga, Ont. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

A company that rents out high-end digital camera equipment to clients across the country has suspended its service after several of its packages were stolen while being transported by Canada Post.

On its website, Lens Rentals Canada said it is not taking any new orders due to "serious issues with the Canada Post Corporation."

Craig Blair, the company’s owner, said large quantities of equipment began disappearing on July 15. Due to an ongoing investigation, Blair could not say exactly how much equipment he had lost, or how much it cost, but said multiple boxes were taken over various dates.

“This is a stress we never thought we’d go through,” Blair told CBC News.

“We figured every three or four years you’d lose something. We just didn’t think it would happen in one giant lump sum.”

For now, Blair is focusing on filling existing orders, which will be shipped by Purolator instead of Canada Post

"While Purolator is majority owned by Canada Post, it does not share any aspects of the delivery network such as depots or post offices," Lens Rentals Canada said on its website. "We have the utmost confidence in Purolator Courier."

An email sent to one of Lens Rentals Canada's said the thefts took place at a Canada Post shipping facility in Mississauga, Ont., though Blair refused to confirm that detail.

Our business is based around trust ... 99 per cent of the time it works out perfect.- Craig Blair, Owner of Lens Rentals Canada

Canada Post confirmed in an email to CBC News that it is aware of the situation and is investigating.

"We take these matters very seriously. All appropriate actions are being taken," Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier said in an email.

"This is an isolated issue and our team of postal inspectors are thoroughly investigating this matter, including collaborating with our customer and local police," Losier said.

Losier said she could not share details about how Canada Post is investigating, nor would she name the police force involved. It also remains unclear if Lens Rentals Canada will be reimbursed for the missing camera gear.

Blair said he's "ticked off" by the ordeal, but Canada Post appears to be handling the investigation well. He also stressed there's no evidence at this time that it was a Canada Post employee or contractor who stole the gear.

'You can't afford to lose a piece'

Martin Galloway, who runs the similarly named Canada Lens Rentals in London, Ont., said he’s been inundated with rental requests since Lens Rentals Canada stopped taking orders.

Rental services like his are popular among both photography enthusiasts looking for a specific lenses — which often cost between $2,000 and $7,000 — and professional photographers, who often rent equipment for events like weddings and later write off the expense when filing their taxes.

Galloway said his service, which only ships within Ontario and Quebec, can’t fill the void left by his much larger rival.

"It’s not something that you can take lightly. It scared me," Galloway said, of the Lens Rentals Canada situation.

"You can’t afford to lose a piece."

Galloway, a former police officer in Scotland, said he takes several steps to protect himself. He doesn’t ship his equipment in marked boxes, and he insists on paying the extra FedEx fee to get a customer’s signature when the package is delivered so it doesn’t get left unattended on a porch.

It's possible to insure lenses, Galloway said, but it's often too expensive for companies like his.

"Our business is based around trust," Blair said, adding that "99 per cent of the time, it works out perfect."


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