Each year, thousands of travelers are victims of luggage theft. Protect your travel bags by staying one step ahead of thieves. Take a look at some of the tips below to help protect your luggage from potential thieves and damage while traveling.
Don’t Flash the Cash
This may seem obvious, but the first and easiest way to prevent your luggage from being rummaged through is by ensuring it doesn’t draw attention. Thieves are more likely to go through a bag covered with designer logos or something that has all the bells and whistles attached to the outside than a plain ol’ black bag. This doesn’t mean you need to buy the cheapest, ugliest bag available, but when purchasing a bag, ask yourself what drew your attention to the bag in the first place, and are there any aspects of the bag that would draw attention to thieves.
Cover it up
When traveling to countries where airport security or police officers are not as trustworthy as other countries, having your bags slashed or searched through for valuables can happen.
Bag manufacturers and security solution companies have caught onto this, and have created several products to tackle the problem. The first, called an ‘airporter bag’ basically works as a bag inside a bag. The plain outer fabric is durable and resistant to catches and tears, and the loopholes around the zippers allows travellers to put a lock on the bag. It might not be slash proof, but it will deter thieves from taking the time to break through it and reach your bag. Plus, the airporter bag offers excellent protection against your rucksack getting broken when going through baggage handling and airport security.
Another useful gadget is the wire mesh bag protector. It looks like a net, but when wrapped securely around the outside of a bag protects it against pilfering and slashing. Like the airporter bag, it also helps protect your rucksack against breakages whilst going through baggage handling at the airport. The wire is usually made from stainless steel which can withstand most knife slashes, and they come in different sizes to accommodate your rucksack.
A good old-fashioned lock will still provide your luggage with some protection, and at the very least deter thieves from accessing your bag. Locks come in all shapes and sizes, and like luggage, you get what you pay for. If travelling to the United States, make sure you choose a lock that is TSA approved.
The Transport Security Administration screens every piece of luggage that enters airport security, and officials have a master key for all TSA approved lock. If the lock isn’t TSA approved, security staff may cut it.
When thieves target your luggage, they aren’t looking for your travel towel or converse; they want your phone, laptop, and any other electronic devices they can sell. The first step towards protecting your possessions is to put your previous valuables in your carry-on bag. It is much more difficult for thieves to steal your valuables when they’re attached to you than if it is in a bag away from you. Take a cheap pay-as-you-go phone on your travels, but if you can’t part with your smartphone, there are a number of apps like Cerberus that will track your phone if it gets stolen. For other valuable items, mark them with an ultraviolet pen. The ink is invisible to the naked eye, but under a black light it will help policemen, pawn shops, and detectives identify whether the items are stolen.
Be On Guard
Traveling allows women to meet interesting people all over the world, but not everyone has the best of intentions when approaching travelers. Be on guard for any suspicious behaviour, and make sure you take in your surroundings. Sometimes thieves work in pairs, and one will distract whilst the other goes through your bag.
Other times thieves might approach you with the appearance of helping you with your luggage. On a recent trip to Spain a fellow traveller told me how a man offered to help her get her luggage on a train, but he had actually noticed her bag’s zips were at the bottom of the bag. Whilst helping her carry her bag on the train, he unzipped the bottom of her bag and started rifling through her stuff; she noticed and managed to save her passport and camera just in time.