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Last updated: 12:05 PM ET, Fri April 04 2014

7 Tips To Safeguard Your Valuables When You Travel

Features & Advice Mark Murphy March 31, 2014

7 Tips To Safeguard Your Valuables When You Travel

The news of the last week confirmed it. You’re not going crazy. That shirt you love, that expensive blazer? You didn’t leave it at home or forget it at the hotel.

The month-long police sting and subsequent busts at Los Angeles International Airport proved what we’ve all thought for years, but could rarely prove.

There’s people taking stuff from our bags.

The airlines have plenty of small print in their contracts saying they’re not responsible and LAX isn’t the only place this is happening – they’re just the only ones to get caught.

I shared some tips with the “Fox and Friends” audience Friday and you can watch that below. But I’ve also outlined the tips in print. Follow these steps and you’ll never be the luggage target and victim again.


1. Don’t Be Too Flashy: Listen, it’s nice to say you have a Louis Vuitton bag. But if you check this bag, you’re just inviting a little sift through. Nice bag usually signals nice stuff is inside. And nice stuff is easy to turn around quick on Craigslist or eBay.

2. Don’t put valuables in your checked luggage. Follows up on point 1, but if you really need to bring expensive electronics or jewelry with you on your trip, put it in your carry-ons. That way, nobody is touching them but you.

3. Pay the fee, get on early. I know, I know, fees are out of control. But trust me, that fee for express boarding really pays off when you get quick access to the overhead bins. It’s one of the better fees you’ll pay in all your travels.  

4. Take your bag through security, check it at the gate. Yes, it may be a bit of a pain to lug the heavy bag through security. But if you check the bag at the gate for plane-side loading, you’ve significantly decreased the time and the amount of hands that are touching your luggage.

5. Use your clothes to store valuables. I know a lot of folks wrap their electronics in bulky clothes. Again, refer to tip No. 2. But if you are absolutely feel you have to check in valuables, store them in your clothes. Yes, we’re tipping off the baggage handlers here.

But the reality is, they are looking for the quick grab. The more they have to rifle through your bag, the longer it takes them and the more attention they draw to themselves. So if you put the valuables in jean pockets on the bottom of your bag, they don’t stand out for the easy grab.

6. Get the TSA-approved lock. This is an example. It’s the type of lock that allows the inspectors to inspect the bag and relock the baggage without damaging the lock … or even worse, the bag.

Keep in mind, the baggage handlers, not the TSA, were the ones busted at LAX. They’re the ones with the longest access to your bags. So don’t lump everyone in together here.

And if you think the $200, non-TSA lock is going to keep you safe, know this: Criminals are going to find a way into your bag. And if they see the expensive lock on the bag, they’re figuring there’s expensive goodies to be taken from that bag.

7. Use technology to your advantage. One of the great plusses of the iPhone is the “Find My Phone” feature that lets you track your phone if you lose it. Now there’s similar technology for luggage.

One such company doing this is Lug Loc … Their electronic tracker device will track your bag for up to 40 days without the battery dying. So you never have to worry about losing your luggage again. 

The device itself costs $49.99 (introductory price, $59.99 regularly). Traces cost anywhere from $1 to $3 (you can buy trace packs in bulk).

TrakDot is another option. A little bit pricier and there’s an annual service fee but no per-trace fee. But either way, you’re putting technology to work for you.

Follow me on Twitter @murphytravels.