find stolen is a unique web application, which claims to help you to find, recover or trace your stolen camera. All you have to do is to upload an image taken with that camera on the website. The website will extract its meta data, which might contain important information about the make, model and serial number of your stolen or lost camera.

It then tries to match that meta data information from the other images uploaded on the image sharing sites like Flickr to trace you some other images, which have been taken from that camera. Now it is upto you how you identify the person who might be the person who is in possession of your stolen or lost camera with the help of those images.

Every photo you take with your digital camera contains hidden information about both the image and the camera such as the make, model and date. This information, called exif data, can also include a unique serial number which identifies your camera.

stolencamerafinder crawls the internet searching for photos, collecting the serial numbers of the cameras that took them.

When you use the drag & drop feature, stolencamerafinder reads the unique serial number from the exif data of your photo and uses it to match against serial numbers it has stored.

Nice concept, but in practice there may be a few assumptions and questions before you can reach at a conclusions.

But, Will This All Actually Bring My Camera Back?

Yes, that is the actual thing to be asked. For instance…

  • Fine, you may be able to trace some images taken by that stolen or lost camera. But, how to actually trace the person, who has taken those images and is deemed to be in possession of that camera at present?
  • Even if you are able to trace the person, how to actually get the camera back? Do you make a call to him and tell him that it is a stolen camera and you are the actual owner of that? Will that work, or do you call the police?
  • Then there are lots of ways in which the meta data information can be changed from the images. And if that can be done easily, how will you prove that you are the actual owner of that camera. Will that person not be able to claim that you might have changed the meta data of your pictures to match the meta data of his pictures? Will your claim be sustained in such a situation?
  • And can this web service be misused for stalking? I would not go into details for obvious reasons.

What do you think? Is the service really useful?