Earlier this year we wrote about a web site that used data stored in a digital photograph to identify the camera it was taken with, the idea being that can be used to trace stolen cameras whose new ‘owners’ use them to post snaps on photo-sharing sites.

The idea sounded great in theory, but now a lucky photographer in the US has shown that it works in practice, too.

Professional photographer John Heller had a camera and lenses worth over £5,000 stolen while on assignment, but fortunately, he’d already made a note of the camera’s serial number.

When he plugged the information into stolen camera finder site GadgetTrak (a different service to the one we wrote about, but that works in the same way), he found a match with several images posted to the photo-sharing site Flickr.

Police then traced the photographer using information they had provided on Facebook, who turned out to have bought the equipment in good faith from the suspected thief.

Services like GadgetTrak are a quick and easy way to trace stolen electronic equipment, and can also be used to trace stolen laptops and smartphones.

And, of course, you can always use dedicated tracking software to make the job of the police much easier — but only if you install it before your gadget is stolen…