WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita photographer said more than $8,000 worth of camera gear and his camera bag were stolen from Riverside Park during a photoshoot on Monday (July 23) morning.
Roberto Gloria said he set down his camera bag in the shade and turned around to begin taking pictures of a newly engaged couple.
“I was taking pictures in the area of the zoo,” said Gloria.
A few minutes later, Gloria said he turned around and his camera bag and the gear inside were gone.
“Sometimes, I get so into it that I totally forget that I placed it there,” said Gloria.
Gloria and the couple looked all over the park and even asked for help from some of the visitors and the zookeeper.
He said he saw a man running to the parking lot shortly after but wasn’t sure if he was the thief.
The incident has been reported to the Wichita Police Department, but Gloria said it’s been hard to cope with the loss of the equipment he has worked hard to get and the fact that it was stolen in a place he’s taken thousands of photos before.
“People know that I love that so much,” said Gloria. “It was taken from me for no reason. It’s not fair.”
As soon as Riverside residents heard about the theft, they jumped in to help.
“He has this eye,” said Megan Thomas, Riverside resident. “Just an eye for beautiful things that people wouldn’t normally see and he sees it and then just makes it beautiful.”
Thomas said she hopes the community can join together to help Gloria.
“To replace that [equipment] would be a huge dent in your wallet,” said Thomas. “I know that Riverside and Wichita have so many wonderful people who might be able to help.”
Gloria said photography is his passion has been since he was eight years old. He said as a kid, he turned to photography as a way to cope with trauma while growing up in Mexico.
Since he’s lived in Wichita, he said he’s found comfort in taking photos at the park and all over the city to share with others on social media. Several of his photos are even featured in local businesses.
“Just knowing that it’s something makes me happy,” said Gloria. “Even though I’m going through that, I can still come to the park and just take pictures and I forget about everything.”
Gloria said he’s been through a tough few weeks and is now living out of his car. But, the photographer said he’s going to find the positive in all this, while hoping police catch who’s responsible.
Gloria said the serial numbers have been reported to police, as well as pawn shops. He said he won’t pursue charges if the person responsible for stealing his gear will give it back.
“It means so much to me,” said Gloria. “People don’t realize that that really keeps me going.”
If you have any information about this theft, contact Wichita Crimestoppers at 316-267-2111 or the Wichita Police Department directly.
To visit the GoFundMe page set up for Gloria by Riverside, click here.