The theft of a camera is a horrible thing, but a new service launched this week aims to aid in the recovery of stolen cameras.

Aptly titled, CameraTrace attempts to track down stolen cameras by the use of the serial number, a security protocol that has been embedded into the image information for quite some time. While you probably don’t remember the serial number of any gadget you purchase, digital cameras often include the serial number in the raw data accompanying the image where ever it goes – online or kept on your hard drive.

Using this information, CameraTrace scans websites and services for the serial number, to see whether anyone else has been uploading images using your camera.

The police can then be brought in to investigate, and while this can take time, it gives you a lot more to work with than just “my camera was stolen”.

Images shot on smartphones aren’t yet supported, but a good lot of cameras are, with the technology supporting camera from a good variety of companies, including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Kodak, Pentax, and Ricoh.

The service isn’t free, but at $10 USD per camera as a once-off fee, it could give you the extra peace of mind you’re looking for – on top of insurance – especially if you own a lot of gear.