U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Czech TV reporter, cameraman robbed at gunpoint in San Francisco

Incident Details


Česká Televize (Czech Television) reporter Bohumil Vostal and his cameraman were robbed at gunpoint in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 12, 2023, losing $19,000 in equipment and their footage, including of the Painted Ladies landmark pictured above.

November 12, 2023

A Česká Televize (Czech Television) reporter and photojournalist were robbed at gunpoint while filming a report in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 12, 2023.

Correspondent Bohumil Vostal told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker via email that he and photographer Milan Nosek were recording across the street from City Lights Bookstore in the city’s North Beach neighborhood. Shortly before 5 p.m., three masked men got out of a car with weapons drawn and ordered them to hand over their equipment.

“One of them told me ‘not to make any problems’ or something like that,” Vostal said. “It was all so shocking we could not even react.”

Vostal said more than $19,000 of equipment was lost, including the crew’s video camera, a GoPro, multiple camera lenses, external batteries, SD cards, microphones and tripods.

“The worst is we lost material we filmed about San Francisco,” Vostal said. Footage from a tour around the city and interviews with a representative of the Transgender District and a gallery owner were lost.

The journalists quickly called the police and filed a report, but were forced to purchase replacement equipment in order to refilm and to cover the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit taking place in San Francisco at that time. Vostal told the Tracker the experience did impact how they approached their reporting.

“We were concerned about our safety afterwards and so we made our [live shots] for the Czech TV News Channel only with the police behind us or nearby our hotel,” he said.

The San Francisco Police Department told the San Francisco Standard that its robbery unit was investigating. SFPD did not respond to a request for additional information.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].