Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Camera stores looted and burned down in US protests

Camera stores looted and burned down in US protests


Over the past 72 hours, at least two well-known camera stores have been put out of business during the protests in the USA. The Leica Store in New York’s South of Houston district was raided and most of the stock was stolen.

The cleanup is underway in SoHo. Incredible how many stores, banks, & coffee shops were robbed. Seeing a lot of places now getting boarded up in anticipation of more looting. pic.twitter.com/OlVabbKgQb

Last Friday evening, one of the longest-established retailers in the country, Central Camera in Chicago, was torched and all the stock was lost, largely through water damage.

Chicago’s Central Camera Co in happier days, pictured here by John Shingleton

Our regular author, John Shingleton, paid a visit to the wonderful Central Camera back in 2017 and covered his experiences in this article for Macfilos. On May 31, local blogger Dave Hoekstra paid this moving tribute to the owners and staff at Central Camera.


  1. I was careful in writing this article to avoid discussion on the protests and the reasons behind them. The article was purely to highlight what has happened to two (and possibly) more camera stores as a result of the unrest.

    I don’t want the comments section to descend into a political discussion — I have already had to delete some hateful stuff from opportunists who are clearly not regular readers.

    I have therefore decided to delete all the comments which are not related specifically to the photography aspect — such as the sad outcome for Central Camera and the suggestion that the Leica Store event was professionally organised under cover of the general mayhem. I hope you all understand my reasons and my reluctance to get involved in politics.

    I have also disabled further comments on this article.

  2. According to my fried in Adorama the Leica heist was well planned – they cut through the bullet-proof glass and took selectively all the high price items – plus the computer with all the clients’ records…. they drove off in a waiting car.
    the huge peaceful protests are spoiled by this.

  3. This is a very sad story. i only came to this country, and to Chicago, 25 years ago but the store has always been a magnet for a never-grown-up-kid like me who would simply look at what was in the windows and dream until the time came to sell my father’s old equipment that I had hauled over from England and buy something new in return. It’s hard to imagine this stretch of Wabash without Central Camera – you turned the corner and it was always there. I hope it can be rebuilt and continue to be a destination for all those curious photographers out there.

  4. Chicago store was and will again be awesome! Treasures in every nook and corner! Mark in Oregon

  5. The Leica store looks like a criminal job, targetted, well thought through, and delivered under the cover of the riots – wouldn’t surprise me if the stock appears cheaply on ebay or somewhere similar in the coming weeks. That is massive shame, as the average person on the street will get blamed for this one, when it is most likely anything but.

    You have to feel for the Chicago team, as I remember Johns article and thought what a place to go and visit. Hopefully they will get back up and running in the future. And I hope they were insured to cover the losses, however hard it will be to recover lost gems.

    Keep safe folks.

    • Let’s hope they can do a phoenix. But all that classic stock can never be replaced. I wonder how many old Leicas perished on Friday.

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