How to Protect Luggage from Theft

Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Taj Uddin Ahmed

While traveling protecting your checked luggage from theft is one of the many stressful concerns. To reach the destination safe and sound without having any troubles like losing your big luggage is a blessing. Some techniques and a bit of attention can save you from such an unexpected happening. Nowadays, losing a suitcase has become common especially in the airport zone. It is mostly seen in the USA. So, I am trying to cover this article on how to protect luggage from theft which would be really helpful for any traveler. Your favorite luggage can be saved if you follow some guidelines.

In fear of losing luggage, travelers are now looking for better ways to protect their valuable items from getting stolen, snatched, accidentally, or on purpose.

There are some common problems with checked luggage. These are the best-targeted points to the thieves. If we are able to find out the common reasons, we can be helpful.

However, if you like to travel so much, you just need to know how to clean your luggage as well. In this case, you can see my previous article on how to wash a backpack effectively. It must help you a lot.

Common Problems with Checked Luggage

heading for boarding plane

Checked luggage becomes vulnerable to theft in the first place. We can avoid lost or stolen luggage very easily if we try to pay attention to some common reasons. So let’s see the points.

Similar Bags to Others

Most of the luggage is the same in colors and sizes. So the common color and yes, the favorite colors to travelers are black, white, and blue. Due to the same color and size, a thief can take advantage of it and can make a move with your one. This is one of the most common reasons that one can lose their suitcase. So be careful.

Fancy or Expensive Luggage

Thieves are always looking for chances. They target expensive luggage because they know if the luggage is so expensive, the inside stuff must be more expensive. So the thieves are aware of the costly luggage and when they have the chance, they don’t miss it. So, it is better you take a less fancy suitcase with you.

Yes, I know it’s weird to hear that the luggage carousel area is not secured enough, but unfortunately, in some cases, it is true. It is seen a very few security measures are taken by the airports to protect the area where the luggage arrives but in reality, what it needs is the area should be most protected so that the travelers shouldn’t be worried about their luggage. In some airports, it takes too much time to check one’s ID before one enters that one can easily snatch one’s bag without having to worry too much about being noticed.

Greedy Baggage Handlers

Sometimes baggage handlers steal the fancy luggage as they become greedy. Due to their greediness, travelers are worried about their luggage whether they will find it or not. This is also very disappointing.

So, what to do now?

As you have already well aware of what common reasons are responsible for losing your checked luggage, you must have to be cautious about it. Airport baggage theft statistics have shown that a lot of luggage is stolen every year.

Are there any solutions there? Well, yes there are.

We are going to mention here 12 easy solutions that can protect your luggage from theft.

1. Make Your Luggage Distinctive

What you need to do first is make your luggage look very special but in an inexpensive way. So, make your suitcase just distinguishable from the others. This distinguishable feature will help you recognize your luggage more easily and will be much harder for anyone to pick your luggage by mistake or pretend that they took it by mistake. So, if your suitcase is quite distinguishable and recognizable, the thief cannot stand on that poor point that he took it by mistake. This is why the dishonest person would leave that one and try to find another one to serve his purpose.

Some advisable ways to make your luggage unique:

  • You can sew a piece of usually uncommon soft cloth on the surface of the suitcase
  • Placing a Smart Luggage ID Tag on your luggage is another smart move. If someone by mistake takes your bag or happens to find it, they can easily dial the ReturnMe global service number. This is the beauty of the smart ID tag. However, by following the procedure the taker can receive an award after the bag is safely and tactfully retrieved to you. This is an amazing service that helps 80% of returns happening within 24 hours.
  • Attach a piece of white paper on the bag and write something on it with a bright color
  • One of the best techniques to secure your luggage is to use a luggage strap cross with a combination lock. This is truly an excellent idea to make your luggage distinctive. This system will disallow anyone to access (except who has access to it) your valuables.

2. Take carry-on if possible

storing bag on overhead bins

The less luggage you have the less stress you will have to take. Besides, a light load bag can speedier your trip.

The carry-on bag will save you some money if you don’t take a suitcase. The usual checked-luggage fee is about $25 while additional luggage can cost you $35 and if you take three that can cost you $50. So, the fewer bag you can carry, the less stress you will have to bear. Airlines have increased their fees for checked luggage and baggage for taking carry-on and more valuables in them.

Use luggage locks

luggage lock

Using luggage locks is another impressive action to prevent your luggage from being stolen or lost. These kinds of modern technology, accessories and gadgets are very helpful and effective. Variety types of locks are used by smart travelers nowadays. Let’s see it through.

Travel luggage strap

travel luggage strap(how to protect luggage from theft)

You can find a travel luggage strap in many places like shops near around you, and in any online marketplace like Amazon. It has been very popular and can be found available in black and rainbow versions. You can carry a lot of stuff in it. Luggage is a good place to keep your bushcraft gear as well. Well, the main features of this travel luggage strap are:

  • TSA approved that allows American security to examine luggage without damaging case or straps
  • 3-dial combination lock that allows security setting up passwords
  • Great fit for 18″-32″ Luggage
  • Very identical due to its strong rainbow colors if this strap is put on it
  • Made up of high quality materials (Nylon Webbing Strap + Polypropylene Plastic Buckle + PVC ID Tag Slot Pick proof seals) that ensures quality

Pick-Proof Seals

Pick-Proof Seals

There are TSA-approved backpacks that have TSA locks. A TSA lock can be opened by a Master Key while a pick-proof seal cannot.

Since these seals made of plastic cannot be reattached you will easily notice if anyone snoops through your stuff. The pickproof seal has to be broken if a stranger needs to open it.

Once you confirm the unique ID, this seal is easy to remove. Here no keys, combinations, or clippers are required. This method provides you peace of mind with 100% assurance of no exposure to a virus, no tampering, nothing stolen.

Well, you can use these seals for a wide range of purposes such as counter-checked luggage, gate-checked luggage, checked bags at the hotel concierge desk, backpacks, band instrument cases, gun cases, and sports bags, and so on.

Backpack & Bag Steel Protector

Backpack & Bag Steel Protector

This method of protecting your luggage from theft is very effective too. You can cover and lock the entire backpack or luggage while you are traveling. You can also lock your luggage to an immovable object or another piece of luggage so that it’s difficult to steal.

I would say, this is a great traveler’s security kit to protect their suitcases. An innovative idea and amazing way to protect your backpacks or luggage.

This stainless steel bag protector wraps and locks 360-degrees around luggage. It can cover up to 120 liters. This patented stainless steel eXomesh locking system is able to secure your contents and valuables, and lock to fixture. Besides, it comes with a padlock and carries a pouch for easy packing when not in use.

4. Carry the most important items with you

You can keep the most important items like jewelry, cash, small electronics, credit cards, and similar items with you. Storing these all in the luggage and if you lose it, everything will go with it. So, it’s a wise decision not to keep your most valuables in the suitcase.

Well, carrying a small backpack or a backpack purse (if you are a lady) on your back or around your neck would be easier and great for keeping those essentials. Even when you are hitting the road, this small bag will help you access it instantly and can bring it out of the bag or keep it inside the bag.

Supposedly, you hired a taxi and after reaching your destination you must pay the driver. What would you do then? Will you open your luggage? No, no, no. use your backpack purse and pay the money.

If you want to have a little big waterproof and slash-proof design backpack it would be great as well. Choose the bag seeing its features that suits you. It must come in handy.

5. Make a List and Take Pictures of the receipts of your belongings

It is one of the most important strategies to retrieve or get back your luggage. Make a full list of your belongings first. Include all the receipts with it as well. And then take pictures of all of them and make sure no important valuables are excluded from here.

Well, this proof will help your luggage identify and even can be retrieved. Or else, nobody is going to believe your mouth words unless you have additional witnesses who can strengthen your stolen story.

Oh yes, after having the pictures, it is recommendable to upload the images to google drive, or sending them to a Facebook account or WhatsApp would be wise because if anyhow you lose the phone as well, you can easily get those all from there.

6. Report any missing luggage properly

baggage claim carousel

In case you can’t find your luggage anyhow, you are highly suggested to report immediately to the airline before leaving the luggage area. Once you get out of the premises, you cannot claim later and nobody would listen to your stolen luggage stories. You should know about the travel insurance too. However, after filling up the form and filing a report, you may take 5-7 weeks, depending on the airline, to file an itemized claim.

Additionally, filing a police report would strengthen your claim. Besides, if your bag can be found but missing some items, you must use a TSA claim form assisting your documents. It is true that TSA settles more than a third of claims for stolen or damaged items, but honestly, it is worth a try.

7. Get off the plane quickly if you can

You should not take a bathroom break (unless it is so emergency and unavoidable) after the plane lands at the destination rather you rush up to reach the luggage area to pick up your luggage. By following this strategy, you can pick up your luggage as soon as it rolls off the belt. In this way, you can receive your bag safely before a thief is able to snatch it without you being noticed.

Remember, this strategy is also effective and helpful while traveling by bus or train. Getting to the bag claiming area first would always minimize the risks of luggage theft.

8. Pack your bags properly

Tidying up your bag in a planned way can reduce the risk of losing any valuable items from it because the checkers have the stigma of stealing stuff from the traveler’s bag. The well-arranged packed stuff can help them see everything clear when observed through X-Ray. This will certainly give the TSA workers fewer reasons to open your bag.

9. Don’t panic immediately

Well, you are highly advised not to get panicked immediately if you don’t see your luggage on the roller belt. In some airports the staff place suitcases and bags in a separate area in order to avoid getting stolen the bags from thieves. So, you should look for your bag in every possible spot in the luggage area before filing a report.

10. Keep your bag close

While you are traveling by plane, try to keep your luggage just your overhead bins. In the case of the train, don’t keep its distance as well. Thieves are opportunistic. While you are sleeping, don’t think everybody is drowsy. Stay alert because a little chance of thieving can be stolen the bag. This is why put the luggage beside your arm and use your hand to rest your arm. Don’t leave it alone and untouched. It can be stolen at any moment.

And yes, if you want to stow your bag under the seat in front of you, place the bag with the pockets toward the front because the person sitting in the seat in front of you could easily reach down into them and any valuable stuff can be stolen without your notice.

11. Always watch your bags

falling asleep at airport

Keep your eyes peeled even when your luggage is passing through the security scanners. It often happens at the time of security checkpoints. Thefts are made even when travelers get on the plane.

12. Consider trackable luggage

Keeping your luggage safe and the guaranty provides some kind of trackable device. You can be assured that your bags are ok and have not been stolen. Well, if stolen, you can track it down seeing its live location. Tile Mate is one of the best trackable devices to find the location.

The trackable devices for luggage or pets can track live tracking and location. So you can follow the history reach to your luggage. You can even monitor the activity if your luggage is moving or not. These devices are small, lightweight, and 100% waterproof. In addition, you can keep your bag safe with this tactical GPS.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the threats to my luggage?

While traveling, many places like bus-stoppages, rail stations, restaurants, especially airports are the common places to be stolen your valuables. Many travelers lose their luggage before or after boarding the plane and during checking in. as thieves are opportunistic they always keep their eyes open when to take chances. A little glimpse of your eyes can make your luggage disappear. Truth be told, unfortunately, theft is a very common occurrence at airports around the world.

2. Where is my luggage most at risk?

Before boarding the plane, there are many points your luggage can be checked, and even can be opened and riffled through. There are also some places where a thief can simply walk away with your bag.

There are 3 places at the airports where your luggage can be at risk to be theft. They are:

  1. Back of house
  2. Inside the belly of the airplane, and
  3. At the luggage carousel

These three places are potentially dangerous to be stolen or lost your luggage. So be very careful when you are crossing these kinds of places.

3. Who are these luggage thieves?

Curious to know who these luggage thieves are? Well, first of all, let’s talk about the back-of-house area of an airport. It is obviously a secured area. Then if you lose your luggage from this area, who would it be to steal your luggage? Truly, the thieves would have to be employees of the airport. Sometimes they work with a syndicate for greater effectiveness.

However, in other cases, some people stealing carry-on baggage walk out right off the luggage carousel.

4. Does the TSA steal from luggage?

Yes, the records of the past indicate that the TSA steal from luggage. However, luggage theft is not limited just to the TSA rather it happens all over the world.

The TSA becomes very aware of the valuables of the travelers they are carrying in the luggage while the pre-board screening runs. 

This is why the best solution is to stick to your belongings attended at the pre-board screening checkpoint. Even more important is that it would be quite a foolishness to leave any valuable behind. Costly personal stuff like laptops, cellphones, wallets, etc. are all very tempting for dishonest and greedy TSA agents.

5. How do I stop TSA from stealing?

Very simple. Apply some techniques to make your luggage a little harder to steal from it. So, if you check your suitcase in, make sure there is no valuable stuff in the bag and then the TSA would be discouraged to open it and steal. The TSA should ensure luggage security but they do the opposite sometimes.

6. Do baggage handlers steal from passenger baggage?

There might be some rotten eggs in big basketful eggs. Like this, you may face some bag guys while traveling but most of them are good and honest. However, TSA records indicate that tens of thousands of items are reported missing (lost or stolen) from passenger baggage each year. This is easily understandable that who has the access to the luggage. So, most likely, it has to be a baggage handler or security screening staff.

7. How can I prevent thieves from stealing from my luggage?

If you have already read the whole article, you may know what steps and strategies may prevent your luggage from stealing. You need to know more about how to protect aluminum luggage and how to secure checked luggage.

However, to beat a thief, you certainly need to think like a thief. What to target, where to take chances, how to flee away, what kind of luggage do they target, etc. are the key points to think about. So, stay alert during the whole journey and your precious luggage can be saved.

8. What type of luggage are thieves looking for?

Taking a life risk in a public place is worth something valuable. They search for an easy target that they can easily acquire. Some thieves are smart enough to avoid themselves caught. They look for unlocked and zippered luggage. So their target is to open the zipper, take valuables, and time to walk away. 

9. What are the tricks I should apply to keep my valuables safe?

Well, there are a few tricks you can apply to keep your luggage safe from thieves. You can know from here how to prevent theft from checked luggage and how to protect your luggage from tampering.

  • Make sure that your luggage never gets gate checked at the last minute
  • Always lock your carry-on luggage
  • You should remove valuables from your carry-on and store it under the seat (zip facing towards you) or in the seat pocket in front of you
  • If you place your bag in the overhead compartment, make sure it is upside down because even if anyone tries to steal, it makes harder or sometimes impossible
  • Skip bathroom break after arrival the destination and go first to the moving belt to receive your luggage
  • Don’t leave your bag alone
  • Try to use tamper proof luggage and luggage tape
  • Make your luggage different in colors or using locking belts that can be easily noticed

10. What about gate check?

Gate Check Luggage

Well, some airlines offer to carry your luggage through the screening checkpoint but load it into the hold of the aircraft as you board. This is called “gate check”. Sometimes you may be forced into this instead of your reluctance if there is not enough room to keep all of your carry-on luggage on board.

So, checking your luggage in at the gate may save you from stealing your valuables but there is no guaranty while the guys loading your bags into the belly of the airplane.

11. How can I protect my luggage from theft? 

Just make your luggage less appealing to thieves than other bags. Besides, using locks on your luggage would be a great chance of saving your bags from theft. In addition, you can use hard-sided luggage that does not use zippers to stay closed. And last, keep your eyes peeled to your precious luggage and grab fast. Make your luggage quite identical so that thieves dare not steal your one.

However, if your luggage has the chance to be stolen in daylight, you can use luggage protector spray and tamper-proof luggage.

Last Words

Learning the lesson on how to protect luggage from theft would be very helpful and effective especially when you are planning to travel. To protect luggage from theft, luggage tape and luggage protector spray are useful too. People have bitter experiences while traveling because they see baggage theft at airports. Follow all the strategies we have discussed above and try to stay alert and this is how you can protect your luggage from stealing. 

Happy travels!