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Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Devices For Luggage? 293

New submitter SkinnyFatSmoothNeck writes "I'll be taking a long train ride in the coming month and I'm looking for ideas and recommendations on anti-theft devices to be used for carry-on luggage. The obvious precautions are always taken: never letting the bag out my sight, wrapping the bag strap around my leg while stowed and so on. But as this is a long ride, there will be a couple of nights involved. The first thing that came to my mind is a two-part device that triggers based on a specified proximity and is controlled from a remote (ie.: the device would be placed inside the bag and trigger a loud alarm if it strays outside of range). Perhaps a more advanced, albeit more expensive, device could also include GPS tracking. But beyond that, what other creative, ingenious or downright sensible solutions do you have to offer?"
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Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Devices For Luggage?

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  • just google it (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @08:52PM (#42631011) Homepage Journal

    google for "purse alarm". there are a wide variety of options for things that make noise if disconnected.

    for proximity, goole all the options with 'child proximity alarm", this is probably more up your alley. Some only sound an alarm on the kid, some only on the parent with the remote, and some do both. that's up to you what you want.

    final option for gps is a smartphone with a "find my phone" option. Like with the iphone where you can see where it's at from a computer. that would be useful if the bag disappeared without setting off whatever else you had watching it like a proximity alarm, or if they managed to outrun you and hop in a car etc with your bag,

  • locks and cables (Score:5, Informative)

    by erice ( 13380 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:15PM (#42631143) Homepage

    I do a lot of travel in third world countries where theft risk is a big issue. I'm not sure if a long train ride in first world country qualifies for such paranoia but here's what I do:

    1) Padlock all the metal zippers. Anything with in a compartment with a fabric zipper can not be secured. There is little point in securing a bag if someone can simply open a zipper and remove the good stuff. A lock is pointless if someone an simply cut the handle with a pocket knife.

    2) String a cable lock through one or more padlocks and wrap it around an immovable object, like a seat leg. I use a cheap bicycle lock much like this one: [] but there are plenty of options.

    Security doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough that isn't worth the trouble or risk to the thief.

    That said, there have been times when I would have liked something a proximity alarm: not so much for theft but so that I don't absent mindedly leave something behind.

  • Some ideas... (Score:5, Informative)

    by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:33PM (#42631269)

    1) Don't carry fancy luggage. It attracts attention and tells a potential thief that you have money and are likely carrying valuable items.
    2) Try and find a hard sided suitcase rather than a soft one. A pocket knife will slice through the more common soft sided luggage with ease. A hard case makes the thief have to work a bit harder and probably skip the effort all together.
    3) Make photocopies of your vital documents and carry the originals on your person and put the copies in your luggage. If your luggage gets stolen it makes it easier to identify you as the owner - assuming of course that you actually ever see it again :-)
    4) If you are carrying something valuable in your luggage then try not to open it in public. Take it in the bathroom and watch to make sure you are not followed.
    5) If you can afford a private cabin get one. The door has a lock on it so you're less likely to have to worry about theft.
    6) If you're carrying a laptop in the carry on luggage then encrypt the hard drive. Truecrypt is free and works probably as well as anything else. At a minimum, create an encrypted volume on the hard drive and put your critical files in there. Better yet, encrypt the whole drive.
    7) Put a password on your cellphone. Android and Blackberry allows you to encrypt the contents of the phone and it's password protected. Not sure if iPhone offers something similar but I suspect it does.
    8) Don't put your home address on luggage tags. If someone steals your luggage they now know where you live and also know that you're not home. Best case they break into your house and loot it. Worst case your family is home when they break in. I just put my name and a phone number.

  • PacSafe (Score:4, Informative)

    by upuv ( 1201447 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:47PM (#42631355) Journal

    I've used PacSafe stuff many times. Basically all of my paranoia is gone when I go way over the top some times. I often use them to hold bags on motorcycles and when I just want to leave my heavy bag somewhere and keep it safe so I can do something more casual.

    You can't use them for checked or carry on on a plane. TSA freaks out. You have to pack the packsafe stuff in a normal bag when on a plane.

    I have no affiliation with pacsafe what so ever. I'm just a happy customer. []

  • Re:locks and cables (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:53PM (#42631391)
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:57PM (#42631415)

    Luggage is rarely stolen on trains: Any thief would have a high risk of getting beaten up by fellow travelers. The situation also does not lend itself to professional thieves: The haul is not worth a lot commonly, you need to ride the train for some time (and be notices by the conductor, etc.), you cannot run, you cannot scout the situation when you can finally run, there are usually queues at stops, so you have to steal minutes before you can get off the train, etc.

    So, get to know your fellow travelers and relax. In fact the only real theft risk I see is if you are overly protective of your luggage. It may inspire some amateur thieve. (Of course, money, documents, etc. belong on your person.)

  • Re:..Blend in (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:41PM (#42631663)
    Depending on where you are, that might be considered brandishing a weapon and therefore illegal. Yes, my state has colossally fucked up rules regarding permissible carry.
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:59PM (#42631741)

    If he's taking a multi-day train trip, it's almost certainly not in the US (may God have mercy on his soul if it is).

    I have no idea where the OP is traveling but there are plenty of long distance Amtrak train trips in the US - and a lot of them across scenic routes. I have done Chicago to San Francisco on the California Zephyr [] and the views of the rockies were stunning. I've also done San Francisco - LA - San Diego which while it was only an single day trip again had stunning views along the way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2013 @03:06AM (#42632543)

    I am doing this Anonymously because it is embarrassing/super illegal. I used to work as a bellhop at a very large East Coast Casino and for 5 years I stole medication from peoples luggage. It was awful and I regret it very much, but I want to try and give back in the way of relevant information.

    First of all, zipper locks are a joke. Just get a ball point pen, take the cap off and place it on the zipped seam and push. It separates the zipper and all you need to do is run the zipper tabs (that are locked together) back around and it looks like nothing ever happened. The only bags that would routinely get me out were the solid plastic kind that have locking combination locks. Since they have no zipper I would pass them by for a bag with a zipper.

    Also remember that I know exactly where you keep your medication because it makes a loud clanking noise when I shake your bag. If you put cotton balls in the bottle, I still know where the bottle will be because most people put meds in their toiletries bag. And then, even if you silence your bottle and keep it out the toiletry bag I will still find it because your pain medication is in a large orange bottle that tells me exactly what pills are inside. This applies to anything in a suitcase. If you don't want someone stealing your precious items, put them in inconspicuous bags. If you had to hide $10k in a suitcase the last place I am going to look in is a box of tampons.

    There is a high possibility that people will go through your bags if you store them in a bell closet and/or valet type service. As employees, we know where all the blind spots on the camera's are. All you need to do is make your bag look like it would take more of my time to go through. Back in the day, if I would open a bag and see everything perfectly folded and organized I knew I could search the whole thing in under 15 seconds. On the other hand, if there was shit just tossed in, I would really think twice about weather I had enough time to make an inspection.

    I will stop here, but if you guys have any more questions I will be glad to answer any questions. There are more ways / techniques, but this is the most common.


  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Saturday January 19, 2013 @07:35AM (#42632947) Homepage Journal

    You can actually buy those in many airports. They are called luggage alarms, you put one part in your luggage and keep the other bit on your person. If they ever get too far apart one or both start beeping. Low power, low range radios are used.

  • Re:..Blend in (Score:3, Informative)

    by marxzed ( 1075971 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:16AM (#42633221)
    this is exactly the right advice for handling cash in less than ideal situations. I always travel with at least 3 days of emergency money plus enough to pay full airfare to "get the F**k outa dodge" if sh*t goes bad (you do not want to be stuck without an exit in somewhere like Laos or Sri Lanka or even Thailand when the bullets start flying) so that means carrying about a grand in US and local cash, some goes in a money belt some goes in shoe liners (liners glued back in with a light adhesive) , some goes in accessible hidden pockets and only enough local currency (no US$) for the day in a wallet that is kept in a zipped up front pocket. sometimes I'll have a cheap wallet with Chinese hell money currency in a back pocket for bad pickpocket areas (Paris underground, Spanish & Italian forums etc), if you are traveling with a shoulder or satchel bag wear it across the body, not just hanging from the shoulder, with it placed against your front not facing the side or rear, and then put your backpack OVER the straps of the shoulder bag, and make it obvious, otherwise a thief will try grab the satchel and pull you down as he grabs and tries to run, and you do not want to be the one on the floor.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:02AM (#42633365) Journal

    I checked into Amtrak for a just so I can say I did train trip. I found it to be overly expensive. I could have rented a car and traveled the same distance, gotten a hotel and waited until the train's scheduled arival for less money. At the time, and I'm not sure what air prices are, I think I could have flown back and forth 3 times for the same price as a round trip ticket on Amtrak.

    I decided to pass on the experience and go to Vegas instead. I figure if you are going to throw money away, you might as well have fun while doing it.

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