Zach Rifai's passion is photography, and the 17-year-old got his first summer job to save up enough money to buy a nice digital camera. A month ago, the budding shutterbug purchased a Canon EOS 50D digital single-lens reflex camera, valued at $1,250.

The soon-to-be senior at Crescent Valley High School offered, for free, to take senior photographs for friends, so they wouldn't have to go to a studio. "They can't necessarily afford buying portrait packages," Rifai said. "I love taking pictures, and it gets something done for them, as well."

He had already taken photos of two seniors; four others were booked.

When supervisors at Oregon State University's KidSpirit discovered Rifai's chief hobby was snapping pictures, they had their employee shoot photos of children participating in activities.

All those photos - the senior portraits, the KidSpirit photos, candid shots of teammates on the Raiders soccer team - may be gone. Sometime early Friday morning, Rifai's camera was stolen from his unlocked car, which was parked in the family driveway on Northwest Mink Place.

"I was pretty upset," Rifai said. "I did work all summer. I saved up the first money I ever earned at a job to buy that."

"He's just crushed," said his mother, Kristin Rifai. "We've been really proud of the fact that he hasn't succumbed to these high school pressures. He's just doing it right, and the fact that somebody is doing it right and this happens to them... My hope is that people in the community will be aware and on the lookout."

According to Corvallis Police Department logs, a stereo/CD player valued at $200, a backpack worth $80 and a $20 Oregon State University T-shirt also were stolen during the car prowl.

Kristin Rifai said car break-ins and other crimes are rare in their neighborhood near Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Although his camera has been stolen, Zach Rifai said he'll continue to pursue photography as a hobby.

"It's so fun, and I enjoy myself when I'm doing it."

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at kyle.odegard@lee.net or

758-9523.

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