When you’re flying, your personal belongings can be lost between point A and point B—but air travelers should also be aware that their property can go missing while passing through airport security.
It’s true. The Daily Mail reported that thieves are targeting tourists and other travelers at Gatwick Airport just outside London, England—they’re brazenly stealing personal items from the security checkpoint conveyor belt, such as laptops, cosmetics, jewelry and even a loved one’s ashes have all gone missing, the Mail reports.
But fear not, travelers, here are five ways to protect your stuff at security, courtesy of Clark.com and writer, Craig Johnson.
Keep an eye on those laptops
As far back as 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 10,000 laptops were stolen every day, according to PCWorld. And a 2017 study conducted by Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service, showed that it’s extremely difficult to get reimbursed by the TSA once an item is reported as missing or stolen. Nearly 70 percent of the claims were denied, while fully-approved claims tallied less than 32 percent, according to the Stratos study.
While there are many studies and statistics on a wide array of aviation-related topics, there is surprisingly little tracked regarding in-airport theft. In fact, officials frequently count missing belongings, reported thefts and related claims in the same category.
Stay aware at the security line
A hot spot for in-airport theft is the TSA security line. Think about it: thousands of air travelers trustingly place and leave their belongings behind on the conveyor belt as they pass through the TSA security checkpoint. As owners are distracted, thieves can help themselves to valuable laptops and other items.
For example, one traveler reported that her bags made it through security quicker than she did, and that’s when she noticed her laptop went missing. After three days of emails, she finally was put in contact with the terminal manager, who told her there was nothing he could do.
What makes it even more difficult is when a traveler doesn’t realize their item is missing until after the flight and they are at their destination. Where did it go missing? Was it at the airport, during the flight, or on the ride home? Then there’s the matter of whom do you call — the police, the airline or one of several agencies in the mix?
To help protect your belongings, here are some good security tips to remember:
- Keep a list of your belongings. To help you stay focused en route, write down a list of your belongings on a piece of paper, and keep it in your pocket when traveling. You can keep it in your hand along with your boarding pass and ID while being processed through security or even in your phone. Then when you pass through security, refer to the list and make sure you have everything then and there.
- Take pictures of your stuff. Another quick and easy way to keep track of your belongings is to take photos of them with your phone. Before leaving for the airport, shoot quick pics of all your bags and the contents within. If you have to prove something went missing, you have proof.
- Slow down and pay attention. It’s easy to rush when you’re traveling, but that’s when mistakes happen. Stay aware of what’s in your hands, pockets and bags, as well as your surroundings. Don’t leave your luggage unattended and do your best to keep your eyes on your stuff as it passes through the security checkpoint.
- Use the buddy system. If you’re traveling with a friend, talk ahead of time about keeping your eyes on each other’s bags, as well as your own. Four eyes are better than two. This will be especially helpful as you pass through the security checkpoint.
- Don’t draw attention with fancy bags. You may want to leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home—it will attract the wrong kind of attention. Instead, opt for small, unassuming luggage that you can identify easily. When it goes through security, be quick to locate it along with the rest of your stuff.