Update: Detroit Thieves Rip Off World-Famous Photog Christopher Morris Twice

December 05, 2013, 8:27 PM by  Bill McGraw

Update, 8:25 p.m.: Sgt. Michael Woody, a Detroit police spokesman, wrote: "Our Criminal Investigations Bureau was on scene within an hour of the incident and worked through the night along side our Special Response Team searching for the stolen equipment. They served several warrants and are still out there tracking the equipment."

Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, wrote on Facebook: “DPD responded in a timely manner. Police executed two search warrants overnight as a result of this robbery report. Several arrests were made at one location, a drug house, on unrelated charges. Don’t know if they are suspects in the photog robbery at this time.

“DPD is investigating why the officers did not investigate at the time whether the stolen equipment was at the location Mr. Morris indicated with his iPhone tracker. I do know that the DPD did take this seriously and are aggressively working the case.”

Original story:

Thieves in Detroit stole about $15,000 worth of camera equipment Wednesday afternoon from a world-renowned photographer who was on assignment near Conner and Mack Avenue for a national publication. 

Then a supposed good Samaritan, who had produced evidence he had access to the gear, took $200 in reward money from the photographer -- and then the Samaritan disappeared.

"I got ripped off twice," said the photographer, Christopher Morris, who has gained an international reputation shooting photos from the White House to some of the world's most vicious war zones.

After the thefts, Morris said he used an app to trace his iPhone -- also stolen -- to a house on Algonquin near Waveny. He contacted police, who took reports from Morris and witnesses but said they could not approach the house without a warrant.

But about 8 p.m. Wednesday night,  cops called Morris at his hotel and told him they were working on the case.

And the camera equipment and iPhone are not the only losses. 

"They also stole the photo cards with two days of work," Morris said.

Morris, who lives in Florida, was shooting photos for a positive story about Detroit -- the resurgence of the Jeep, which is produced at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant near the spot where his gear was swiped. He did not want to name the publication.

Morris, 55, said his rental Dodge Avenger was parked at a McDonald's on Conner when he stepped across the street with a camera to check out an angle for a possible shot.

"Then I heard the glass shatter," he said. "There were three guys at the car. They took off with my bag and a camera and the iPhone."

Morris, who was alone, drove after the men, and found the house on Algonquin with the help of witnesses. 

Later, another person approached him and said he could help. He left and returned with a booklet from Morris' camera bag, and said he could get the rest of the gear for $200. He left, and failed to return.

Detroit police showed up about 30 minutes after Morris called 911, but said they couldn't go to the house.

"They said they needed more probable cause," Morris said.

Deadline Detroit has reached out to a police department spokesman for comment.

Morris has won numerous awards for his photography, especially his war work, which includes assignments during the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the drug war in Colombia, the Persian Gulf war, and the wars in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yugoslavia and Chechnya. A freelancer, he worked for many years for Time magazine and covered the White House from 2001 to 2009.

His gear was not insured.


Top photo: Morris in a video for a project titled "Time in Turkey."

Middle photo: A famous image by Morris of Vice president Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsefeld at the Bush ranch in Texas.

Bottom photo: Click here to see a gallery of Morris' work in war zones other than Detroit.

Click here for Morris' webpage.

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