Tips for Better Luggage Security
Security worldwide has become an enormous focus point for so many people who travel. We are super careful when keeping all our belongings safe, but then we travel and once you have checked in, it is time to say good bye to your bag & belongings; and then you really have no control over what happens next. Your luggage is left at the mercy of people whom you will never see.
I have often thought about how effective the safety systems of luggage really are and while I keep all of my electronics and anything of real value in my hand luggage, I would still be pretty upset if my clothes went missing.
The risk of things going missing is not the only risk, you are actually legally responsible for the contents of your luggage regardless of how it got there. So with that in mind, I felt it necessary to write this article to highlight some of the potential problems, risks and misconceptions of the luggage that we travel with and believe to be relatively secure.
There are 2 main types of luggage available to most travellers and those are the Zip-Lock Luggage and the Hard Shell Luggage. Here are some of the potential risks and vulnerabilities of these types:
Zip Lock Luggage:
So you think that once you have zipped your luggage and locked the zip runners in the locks that your luggage is safe. WRONG! Zip luggage is definitely not as safe as many people believe them to be. While these are effective at sealing the bag relatively well, it is actually really simple to open and close them with no evidence to show that they were in fact tampered with.
I have found a video on YouTube made by airport customs officials that will illustrate how easy it is to open luggage and leave no trace of the break in.
It is incredible to think that one only needs a ballpoint pen to gain access to a persons belongings. With luggage often spending hours in storage before being transferred to the aircraft and the difficultly of policing the entire airport, this provides thieves with a perfect opportunity to rummage through your stuff.
Hard Shell Luggage:
OK so now that you are thoroughly disappointed with the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the zip lock luggage solution, you might be thinking that the only solution will be to opt for more expensive, hard shell luggage. Well I would suggest that if the seemingly better security is the real motivator for this decision that you watch this video first:
So even the hard shell luggage options are not infallible to the crook that has a bit of time and some paper on his hands. This is not limited to the Ergo brand as there are videos on YouTube demonstrating that even top brands like Samsonite can easily succumb to the same issue.
So now that I have cast a dark cloud over what was seen previously as a very safe way to transport your stuff, lets look at what you can do to prevent some of the loss that occurs on a regular basis while in transit.
These are a relatively inexpensive security solution that while not uncrackable, adds layers of security to your luggage and will deter the casual thief from taking a look inside. These straps are fully adjustable to fit all sizes of bags and have usually a combination lock to fasten them together.
If you are unsure of how best to strap your luggage together using this method, this video will show you how.
The Key here is adding security lays that takes longer to get through rather than looking for an uncrackable solution as these do not really exist for the average traveller.
This method performs 2 major roles, firstly it is an added security measure where you will be able to see if someone has tampered with your bag and secondly, it protects it from getting dirty or wet during transit. The drawback of this type of security measure is that these wrapping machines are usually available in the airport baggage handling area which means the criminal could just re-wrap your baggage after accessing it.
In addition to this, this is not a particularly environmentally friendly method as this is quite a bit of single use plastic that is discarded after you have arrived at your destination.
Fool proof Luggage:
If you are the super serious type that wants the best security possible then the answer lies with a product manufactured by Pelican. Pelican manufactures secure luggage for the military and law enforcement agencies in addition to those film companies and photographers that need to transport a lot of very expensive gear with them that cannot be taken as hand luggage.
These cases are manufactured from durable polyurethane materials that can be ordered to be pressure controlled, waterproof, dust proof and/or thermally insulated for the man who is serious about the contents of his luggage. These cases still maintain all the normal features of standard luggage so you will not be purchasing a system that is completely secure but impractical to travel with.
The best feature is the lack of zips or any other area where entry to the case is accessible. These cases are locked using 2 pad locks and the only way for someone to tamper with it would be to break those locks to gain access.
Word to the Wise:
This article was intended to arm you with knowledge rather than to only highlight the defects in our luggage systems. I think at this point I should make it clear that to stop the really determined thief will not be possible. However, what one should be aiming for is to slow the ease of access down by improving security layers (defence in depth) or by making your luggage less appealing that someone elses’.
When an opportunistic thief sees a bag with many layers of straps and wrapping, this can be seen as a risk profile increase for him as he will spend more time accessing the bag thus increasing the chances of being caught in the act. One makes luggage less appealing by increasing the difficulty of accessing the bag as compared to say someones’ luggage that is just a single layer zip lock bag that can be opened in seconds with a ballpoint pen.
So whatever method you choose, keep your valuables with you if at all possible and employ defence in depth tactics to keep what is yours, in your hands.