I always enjoyed hearing how the owners of lost cameras were re-united with their property and media. Now it became my turn to find the owner of a lost GoPro. Here's how I did it.
All the names the locations are redacted for privacy.
I've been visiting a place in the USA that is popular with tourists. A local friend mentioned that they found a lost GoPro a few months previously, but they had no idea how to use it, so they asked me take a look at it.
The camera in question is a GoPro 11 Black. For perspective, I too have a GoPro, but it's the 1st generation. The newer ones are really cool with their touchscreen and other modern tech.
Step 1 - poke around the menus
First thing I did was to power on the GoPro and have a look at the menus. I was completely unfamiliar with the UI and this programmer doesn't start by RTFM, yet I felt right at home.
I wanted to find the serial number to see if it had been reported lost/stolen. So I went to
Preferences > About > Camera Info and under
Camera Name I read
I thought, "huh,
Smith sure sounds like a last name". Apparently the owner labeled it when they set it up. That's a clue!
Step 2 - take a look at the camera recordings
I plugged the MicroSD card into my computer and browsed the photos and videos. Standard stuff shot by an American man and his family on vacation in the same place I had been.
Now I had a face - this must be Mr Smith. But a name and a face don't make it much easier to locate the needle in the haystack.
Step 3 - look for identifying markers
After the high-level skimming of the photos (I ignored the videos because who has time for that), I decided to take a closer look at the details, in particular clothing accessories and other personal items that might provide some identifying data.
Sure enough, in one photo Mr Smith was wearing a hat with a company logo "ACME Corp". This was not a company most people had heard of, so I thought there might be a good chance Mr Smith worked there. Clue number 2!
Step 4 - search LinkedIn
Armed with a company name and a last name, I searched LinkedIn for "ACME Corp". Bingo!
I went to the (thankfully short) list of employees and the first person I see is a Mr Bob Smith. He bore a resemblance to the man in the photos, yet looked a lot younger. Reading his bio, I realized he was too young to be the same person.
Slightly dejected, I went back to the employee list and continued scrolling. Not much farther down, I see Mr Bill Smith who looked like a 90% match. I opened up his profile and right away I knew he was the camera owner. He even had a clearer photo from an event he had attended, and there was no doubt it was the same person.
So what about the first Mr Smith - Bob? I believe he might be Bill's younger brother based on resemblance, and it so happens that they both work at the same company.
Step 5 - contacting the owner
This, in theory, is the easy part. I messaged Mr Smith on LinkedIn that I found his camera.
Unfortunately, there's a snag. Mr Smith did not have any LinkedIn activity in the past year. So it's unlikely he will respond (soon). He also has a profile on Twitter, but it's locked down with little activity.
If all else fails
I will try other avenues for contacting Mr Smith. It those fail, then I guess finders keepers. My friend will get to hang on to, and use the GoPro. I will make a backup of Mr Smith's media and keep it in case I find a way to reunite him with it.
If you read this by any chance, Mr Smith & associates, please check your LinkedIn messages, or message me on Twitter or Mastodon . There's also a Contact form that I barely check. The same applies to anyone who knows someone who's lost a GoPro 11 Black in recent months.
P.S. I'll make sure to ask some relevant questions to validate the actual owner - partly why I didn't give any personal details.
I'll update this if I manage to contact the owner.
I'm happy to report that I was finally able to reunite the owner with the GoPro.
To follow up on step 5, after waiting a while for Mr Smith to respond on LinkedIn, I noticed that the younger Mr Smith (brother?) had recent activity, so I messaged him with a summary of why I was trying to contact the older Smith.
Sure enough, Mr Smith (the owner) signed in shortly, confirmed ownership, and gave me a home address.
I mailed the GoPro and he received it without issues. I'm very happy that I was able to help.
I'll leave you with a parting tip. During this investigation, various people online were recommending putting a
contact.txt file with your info in the memory card of a camera or other device that might get lost. Very common-sense advice that hadn't occurred to me until now.