For her Christmas gift, Montreal photographer asks for return of stolen hard drives

Johany Jutras returned home from vacation Christmas Eve to find her home had been ransacked and her life's work stolen.

Johany Jutras returned home from vacation Christmas Eve to find her home had been robbed

Sports photographer Johany Jutras returned home from vacation yesterday to find her hard drives containing thousands of photos she has taken were stolen. (Chris Hofley)

Photographer Johany Jutras returned to her Montreal home after a European vacation Christmas Eve, ready to celebrate the holidays with her family.

Instead, when she arrived at her apartment in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood yesterday afternoon, she noticed the door was unlocked. She walked inside and realized her place had been ransacked.

"I was like, 'Merry Christmas to me,'" she said.

As she surveyed the damage, she noted the thieves stole her television and bottles of wine from her collection. When she realized things were missing, she immediately thought of her hard drives.

Jutras says 12 to 15 of her hard drives are gone, which includes primary and backup storage. They contain thousands of photos taken over her eight-year career.

"All those drives ... are worth a lot to me," she said.

"You can ask any photographer. Losing your archives is like killing a part of yourself."

'Just ... bring them back'

Jutras is a sports photographer. She now works for the Canadian Football League and the Toronto Argonauts, but she said it took time and a lot of hard work for her career to take off.

She works 40 games a season and takes about 2,000 photos a game. Her contracts stipulate that she owns all rights to her work, which means losing the photos has a sentimental but also financial impact.

The moments she captures may be worth more years from now, she said. They could also serve as content for any books she may want to create and sell.

"I'm a self-employed person so it's kind of like your investment for your retirement. All those photos, you can do something later to make money with them," she said.

While many people store their photos online in what is called the cloud, she said that's not not as simple for her. Because she takes so many photos that require so much space, cloud storage can be costly.

Jutras has filed a police report, but once the police left her apartment yesterday she decided to take to social media and spread the word about the theft.

She's hoping someone may have an idea of who the perpetrators are and encourage them to come forward, or that someone spots a hard drive or two at a local pawn shop.

She said she wants the thieves to know she doesn't care who they are, she just wants her life's work returned to her.

"You won't make money with them," she said.

"Just find a way to bring them back."