Airport theft

I’ve been lazy lately. Lazy and trusting. If I’m at the airport and I’ve sat down at a table, I’ll walk a few feet over to grab a napkin, Travelon bagcream for my coffee, or a fork, leaving my laptop on the table or my purse right there. Yes, I make sure my bags are zipped and I try not to leave smaller items in locations where they could easily be grabbed, but I’ve been very lax about my personal security for the last several months.

This week a friend of mine was traveling through Nashville. While waiting for his flight he stopped at Starbucks, grabbed a coffee, and sat down. He started getting out the stuff he needed from his bag: laptop, book, and a little pouch where he kept his Bose earbuds and smaller chargers. He leaned down to plug in his laptop, and when he sat back up the little pouch was gone. Initially he thought he knocked it off the table so he started searching for it. After a few minutes he realized that it was, in fact, gone. He told the barista what happened and she was like, Yeah. It’s an airport. Happens all the time.

I think one of the things that’s so hard for me is that it’s not like my friend was doing anything wrong. He was sitting right there, but his little bag was stolen while it was there one foot away from his face. But this is proof that even being vigilant isn’t enough—you need to be hyper-vigilant, probably bordering on paranoid. (Pictured: Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag)

It’s tempting to think that airports are secure once you get past the metal detectors, body scanners, drug dogs, and cops. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. It’s also tempting to believe that people are basically good and we’re all in it together. While in my opinion the majority of travelers feel this way, there will always be bad people. Being careless for a moment can mean hours of hassle, not to mention possible ramifications professionally if your work laptop or phone is stolen. So be vigilant! Keep an eye on your stuff—don’t walk away from it, don’t leave small or easily taken items out, and be aware of the people around you.

Readers, have you had anything stolen on a trip? How do you prevent airport theft?


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  1. thanks great reminder… almost wanted to put a mouse trap in pouch & leave it there while getting some creamer & see what happens…
    vigilant -> hyper-vigilant-> vigilante.

    The Travelon link was not working for me.

  2. Not sure if a mouse trap will get through security screening. But I read about GPS devices for checked baggage. Maybe people hide them in carry-ons as well.

  3. I have never had anything stolen on a trip, but I am hyper vigilant. I check my luggage, which is one way of avoiding theft as it is one less item to watch. My carry on is always zipped when I am in transit, and I never leave it alone even to get creamer for coffee-I take it with me. I place it where I can see and feel it and avoid having important items such as my wallet, in view.

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