Massachusetts Cops Seize Cameras From Men Photographing Power Plant

Carlos Miller

All Caleb Best wanted to do was try out his new lens, a Canon 24 mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

But that ended up getting his Canon 60D camera confiscated by Massachusetts cops where they still refuse to return it, insisting that they need to show his photos to the United States Coast Guard as well as the local power plant, which he had been photographing.

Salem police also confiscated his friend’s camera, a Canon Rebel, on the same premises last week after the two 21-year-old men had inadvertently trespassed on private property to take some photos along the beach.

Now, more than a week after the cameras were seized, police are not making a very strong effort to return the cameras, even though they have no legal right to maintain possession of the items in the first place.

It all started Monday of last week, March 23, when Best and his buddy were driving along the coastline when they spotted a bridge next to a power plant, which they thought would make a nice photo.

They pulled over and made their to the beach to take photos along the water before heading back to their car.

“On the way back, a man told us we were on private property,” Best explained in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Tuesday. “We said we were sorry and kept walking.”

By the time they got to the car, several Salem police officers had shown up, inquiring what they had been doing on the property.

When Best told them they were taking photos, the cops insisted on seeing the photos. The two men then handed over their cameras to show the officers.

“I wanted to cooperate so we wouldn’t get arrested for trespassing,” he said.

But then the cops told them they were confiscating the cameras to give officials at the National Grid power plant an opportunity to view the photos.

“I offered to give them my memory card if they would allow me to have my camera, but he said no,” Best said.

The officers told them to call the police station the following day to retrieve their cameras, but when they did, they were told to call the following week because now the Coast Guard wanted to view the images.

By then, Best began to get frustrated, posting his story on Reddit, which is how he ended contacting PINAC.

When Best called Salem police yesterday, Tuesday, March 30, he was told he needed to speak to the officer handling the case who is off until Thursday.

That officer is Max Zirin, who can be reached at or 978-744-0171, ex. 302.

But considering police have lied to him up until now, he is not sure he’ll ever get his camera back.


War on Photography