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16-September-2007 : Don’t Get Separated From Your Gear In Transit!
With a recent rash of photographers having their equipment stolen I wanted to write about ways to protect equipment from easy theft.
The first and most obvious way is to keep an eye on your gear. I know this is not always possible. We all leave our equipment in hotel rooms; at the airport Left Luggage counter; under a desk on an assignment in the corner of the room at a wedding and next to us while sitting on the bench waiting for a train.
A few options to explore are easy and fairly inexpensive.
A great option to stop outright theft of your bag or the slashing of your bag is a Pac-Safe ( www.pacsafe.com). The Pac-Safe is a chain-metal cover that you can slip over your bags. This cove cannot be cut with a knife and allows you lock your bag to nearly anything. A thief with a bolt-cutter , or one with enough time and equipment can get the contents of the bag, but that is true of any anti-theft device. The best option always is to deter the thief and send them looking for an easier target.
One great thing about the Pac-Safe is that you actually wear it on your bag, while wearing your bag. It looks unusual, but no one can walk up behind you and slash the bag open. In a hotel room you can put your bag inside then lock your bag to the bed frame. It’s not so easy for someone to drag the entire bed down the hallway to just get your bag’s contents.
Another option for quick situations is a zip-wire, or locking wire, etc, with lock on it (Link To Lock&Cable). I travel with a small zip-wire and a few travel locks. When sitting in an airport or at the train station I lock all the zippers shut then run the wire through as many places as possible and then around leg or frame of a bench. This makes a snatch-and-grab theft almost impossible. Having also slept in airports many times (many many times in many countries) due to late flights, early flights, missed flights, being to cheap to pop for a hotel room for an extra night, etc, I have take the zip wire and run it through my bag and then through my belt loops. While someone can pull really hard and rip my belt loops, there is no way they can get my bag without pulling me and waking me up……..which would of course make the theft even harder.
An obvious choice for securing equipment is traveling with Pelican cases (www.pelican.com). The Pelican 1510/1514 (Link To Pelican 1510) is legal for almost all carry on airlines, can take any abuse dished out by traveling on a small regional jet or turbo prop where you must place your carry-on bags in the cargo hold for the flight. In addition to the durability of the Pelican cases, you can place two heavy locks on the case and then lock the case to a heavy immovable object and know your equipment is quite secure. I travel with a Pelican 1514 for many jobs and love mine, not only for safety of my equipment but also the security of my equipment.
For those who don’t want to feel shackled to their equipment there are electronic alarm systems. These systems are ideal for your briefcase and being in a lounge or at the airport gate, in a conference room, etc. There are many manufacturers of these alarms, each with their own features. The following are links to two luggage alarm that I know some frequent flyers are using and have found to be reliable and a link to a listing of various luggage alarms.
Link To SureSafe Technology Luggage Alarm
Link To E-ALERT Briefcase Alarm
Link To Various Luggage Alarm Systems
The bottom line is you need to be vigilant when possible, but for the times when watching your equipment just is not am option you can try to be as safe as possible to deter theft of your equipment.