How To Stop Thieves From Easily Getting Into Your Locked Luggage

by SharonKurheg

We posted a while back about how easy it is for thieves to break into electronic hotel safes. Several people who read it said they leave their valuables in their suitcases because they keep them locked with TSA-compliant locks, so people can’t get in and take their stuff.

We hate to tell them (and you), but it’s even easier to break into a zippered suitcase with a lock than it is to break into a hotel safe. Watch:

Yup, all it takes is a ballpoint pen and a few seconds for someone to take stuff out of your suitcase…or to put who-knows-what into it, for that matter. And you’d not know what happened until you opened it, because the bag looks absolutely OK and untampered when they’re done.

So yeah…locking a zippered suitcase is not even close to being secure.

What to do about it

Some people have suggested using a higher-end suitcase that uses metal zippers instead of plastic, but unfortunately, it just takes a few more seconds of harder work to break those the exact same same was they can do with plastic zippers.

Instead, you may want to use a hard-sided suitcase (because we didn’t even go into someone simply knifing a soft-sided suitcase to get into it) that closes with clasps instead of a zipper. Some brands even allow combination or key locks to attach (and once you’re in your room, don’t use those flimsy TSA-approved locks. Use a good, thick padlock).

If you don’t want to go that route, you may want to consider a few luggage straps that you can wrap about your bag (but not if you’re going to check your bag). Again, make sure they can be closed with a sturdy lock. That way, even if they bust through the zipper to open the bag, they still can’t get the bag open because the straps will keep it closed. Unfortunately, those straps aren’t foolproof – they can be cut and possibly wiggled enough to come loose. But it’ll take the thieves longer and they want to avoid that – their goal is to be finished ASAP.

You also see plastic wrapped luggage more and more often – that also works by making a would-be thief have to take extra time to cut through several layers of plastic before they can get into your bag. Unfortunately, all that plastic, which can only be used once, is environmentally unfriendly and winds up in landfills.

The bottom line is that no luggage lock is foolproof – if someone REALLY wants to get into your bag, (s)he will. So the goal, instead of keeping them out, is to make it difficult and time-consuming enough that a would-be thief would give up on your luggage in favor of someone else’s that might be easier to open.

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1 comment

GUWonder February 11, 2024 - 4:10 pm

Anyone with a couple of minutes of time and some very basic tool can crack open any typical consumer luggage used no matter what the traveler does to secure the luggage. Even metal luggage with clasp locks.

What can be done to try to better secure luggage is to try to monitor the room and luggage for movement and provide real-time video feeds and video capture of those physically accessing the room and the luggage in the room. Add in a loud alarm that can be remotely triggered after real-time two-way voice communication, and odds are a potential thief will move on to an easier target upon being notified by the bag owner that the room and items are being monitored in real-time.

Will a thief swipe my portable internet-connected security cameras and the mobile hotspot used to provide the internet connectivity? They can, but typically they will move on to a different target upon realizing they have been monitored and their face/image captured by the bag owner with such a functional set-up.


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