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4/11/2009 – Protecting You Baggage From Theft & 1,000 Bags Stolen From PHX
A frequent topic I have written about on Flying With Fish has been passenger security and protecting yourself from airport thieves. While I have extensively researched this subject, some still seem to think I am an ‘alarmist.”
An e-mail this past August from an airline executive (who shall remain nameless) reads “It is preposterous to think there is some rampant group of thieves who make their living off of walking into airports and stealing luggage off the belt.”
While I have known for quite sometime that there are in fact unscrupulous people who make their livelihood spending their days stealing from passengers are airports…and some make pretty good livings off of it!
The top of the news for much of the day has been a couple in Phoenix, Arizona, who have been stealing baggage off the carousel at Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX). When police raided their home they carted off approximately 1,000 bags.
What a surprise, from the images of the bags being taken away from the thieves home, more than 98% appear to be black ballistic nylon bags!
So…now that I have been able to once again prove I am not an alarmist when it comes to airport baggage thefts, let me share some basic tips on how to avoid being the victim of an airport baggage thief.
1) Brightly mark or label your bags, especially if your baggage consists of black ballistic nylon bags. Thieves generally only steal bags that blend in and are not easily identifiable.
2) If you are traveling with a task-specific bag that stand out as one carrying expensive equipment, such as a Pelican Case or Think Tank bag, make sure the bag is extremely visible and identifiable, then pack it inside a non-descript bag. My Pelican 1514 case tends to fly inside a bright green Mountainsmith Cube when it needs to be checked (the Cube never blends in anywhere).
3) Following a flight head to the baggage carousel as soon as possible. Don’t stop and browse the magazine shop.
4) Position yourself as close to the exit to the baggage chute or entryway of the baggage carousel. By positioning yourself close to where the bags come out you can watch for your bag.
5) If you have multiple bags, stack them in front of you against the baggage carousel as you await your others bags. Do not stack the bags behind you; some one can easily away with it
Below is a video clip of the Phoenix baggage theft story, as well as photos clearly showing both how I hide one bag inside another and how I make my bags very visible to make them easily identifiable and deter theft.