Home TIPS Tips on how to prevent airport baggage theft
Tips on how to prevent airport baggage theft PDF Print E-mail

A recent news item told of the arrest of a group of employees at Los Angeles airport for thefts from baggage. It may not be surprising, but some of the accused are Homeland Security (TSA) security guards. Unfortunately, this kind of crime happens frequently at airports throughout the world.

How does a traveler avoid such problems? It isn't easy, but it can be done in many airport situations. Here are some tips that can at least help avoid the worst of the thefts, if not all of them.

1. We never check our luggage. Checked bags are the ones most stolen or pilfered, especially the small computer cases. I know cutting back on clothing is difficult or thought to be impossible for some travelers, but it is worth considering. We who are both elderly go on cruises and travel throughout Europe with just one wheeled carry-on each and a knapsack. It’s a good idea to keep your computer with you at all times.

Cartoon of thief


2. When approaching security with a companion, let one person go ahead through the electronic doorway to meet the bags as they roll down the belt. That way, except for when the bags and computer cases are actually within the x-ray machine, you’re watching them.

3. Never, ever leave your bags or computer cases unattended while you check the desk for information, shop in an airport store, use the restroom or for any other reason. You’re not only inviting theft, but if airport security guys see unattended bags, even for a minute or two, they grab them. Then you have to go to the security office and do a lot of explaining to retrieve them.

4. Pack your bags neatly and know where each item is. If you are called aside by a security guard for individual inspection, keep the bag in sight at all times, and while the bag is open, closely watch if any of the items are lifted out.

5. Take as few valuable items with you as possible when you travel. Costume jewelry can be just as attractive as the real deal, but not as painful when it is stolen. Unfortunately, airport thieves who are also baggage checkers can become very adept at slipping out small jewelry items quickly.

6. Before you leave the airport after going through security or after you pick up checked luggage, take the time to inspect it. If anything is missing, report it immediately at the airport. If possible, make your report directly to the police and then to airport security personnel. If you need advice, call your insurance broker with the information.

7. Carry as little cash with you as possible. Travelers checks that can only be redeemed by you are accepted virtually everywhere in the world at banks, hotels, casinos and restaurants. Bank cash machines are also widely available.

There's no way to totally prevent airport loss or pilfering of baggage, but with a few sensible steps, it is possible to make it more difficult for the thieves.

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