In the world we live in, protecting one’s own property becomes something to be prepared for. Many people consider suitcases to be somewhat “unprotectable” over international flights – simply due to the long amount of time these bags are being handled by strangers, or placed out of site. Regardless of the measures taken by airports and the FAA to protect flyers from theft, an amount of thefts of property always occur at airports. So you’re left asking yourself, how can I protect my luggage from people that would want to steal from it?
There’s multiple factors to consider in securing your luggage before flying. Before we discuss locks, let’s talk about the physical structure of the luggage itself. If your suitcase has a fabric body with a zipper, a lock isn’t going to exactly do you well. The bag can easily be cut open (by people who wouldn’t care if you discover the theft) but can also be opened with a common airport theft trick. This trick involves the use of a ballpoint pen to puncture the zipper opening, run along it’s length, opening the bag with no signs of entry. In fact, TSA agents use this technique to inspect suitcases.
It’s worth putting in the investment for a hard sided durable suitcase. These suitcases differ from the typical ones because they aren’t made of easily severed fabric, but a hard, almost impenetrable siding. Additionally, there will be a hasp system which you can place locks on. These cases can’t be opened with pens like typical suitcases. When looking for hardsided suitcases, it’s good to test them in person so you know what you’re getting. Test if the material can’t be broken, and that the lid is sealed tight when shut. If there’s any gap in the seal, it’s not the ideal case.
Finding a Durable Lock
Buying a durable lock is absolutely something you should do. First of all, you need to choose a lock that properly fits the case – so that there’s no gap when it’s fully closed. If you’re shackling the zipper tight, the lock’s shackle should be thin enough to fit inside – however, the thinner the shackle, the easier it is to cut or break off.
I certainly don’t advise getting one of the pre-made TSA approved locks. It’s shackles are incredibly flimsy and can be cut with a pair of ordinary household tools. They can be picked easily – not to mention the fact that the schematics of the inner lock has been publically available on the internet for years – so somebody could make a skeleton key that works for it.
Instead, I recommend getting a high security lock, like a padlock. Don’t skimp on price – invest in a well made, solid lock that can resist many different kinds of entry attempts. I also recommend getting a lock with internal ball bearings that prevent thieves from being able to shim it.
Try getting a lock with as many security features – and pins – as possible. 5 is the average, and serrated pins work the best. Using a lock with a shroud over the shackles make it much harder for thieves to cut through it. On the average, competent high-security locks can be found for around 25 dollars. Brands like Best, Mul-T-Lock, and Medeco are always a good bet. It also helps to combine multiple locks that aren’t from the same company – this would protect your property from criminals with single break-in methods.
As additional security tactics, never put irreplaceable valuable items inside your checked luggage – instead, bring it with you in carry on. Additionally, you might want to use saran wrap, zip-ties, or tape to show you if your suitcase has been opened. It’s definitely an effective deterrent to criminals who don’t want to waste time getting through a zip tie and get caught. As many levels of security as possible is highly advised – any additional, unfamiliar level with effectively deter criminals. The best solutions are the one’s that you cater to your specific situational needs. Find whatever weak links figuratively or literally exist in your luggage, and reenforce and strengthen them. By utilizing layered security, you can protect your luggage in airports, or really any transportation environment.