Lost property usually remains “lost” because the owner cannot be traced. A simple solution is to ensure your contact details are included on (via a luggage label) or inside the bag. This is a viable solution but it may make your contact details available to unauthorized people and thus open up a security breach. It is not unheard of criminals frequenting popular departure locations (e.g. airports) with the aim of obtaining addresses from luggage as a way of identifying potential properties to burgle (whilst owners are away).
Our favorite method of providing contact details to authorized people (e.g. Police and local transport companies) are the Trace Me Luggage Tracker and Dynotags. These are credit card style or key ring fob tags which you register, the code and bar code on the tag provides authorized people the facility to access your contact details - the best news regarding these are their one off price with unlimited usage and no annual renewals or subscriptions.
Top Tip: Attach the tag inside your checked luggage, to prevent it from being detached while in transit. Even if the bag is secured with a padlock, authorized people can remove the locks to gain access (see Locks below).
Although not perfect you might like to try using a smart phone GPS tracker like the one from Royce Leather. It can broadly locate where you bag is, via a GPS App, but it can also make a sound so you might be able to hear it too (many use this in their wallet!).
When you need to leave your bag out of view or unattended for short periods (plus when traveling), we recommend using a lock, preferably one with a cable like this TSA one from Lewis N Clark. This means you can lock your bag but also lock it around something else, by looping the cable around an immovable object.
For airport travel, TSA locks can be opened without damage by a universal tool provided to authorized bodies. These locks have an indicator which turns red when it has been opened in this manner. When you are alerted in this way, check the contents just in case there is anything missing (or even added for that matter!). With these locks you can also set your own 3-digit combination (rather than remember a pre-determined one). Please note: Both of these features are not standard on all TSA locks.
If you have a certain degree of number blindness there are locks which use letters instead of numbers. While this lock does not have the indicator to show if it have been opened, there is another approach which can provide the solution to this (see Cable Ties below).
TSA lock suppliers give a replacement guarantee should the lock be opened by authorized personnel without using the specialized tool - very useful.
1. There are similar locks available at lower prices but make sure they have the TSA symbol, have the same or better level of robust durability and the features you are looking for e.g. have the indicator to show when your bag have been opened.
2. Remember a determined person will always find ways to overcome security measures (e.g. bolt cutters to deal with locks etc.). However, using locks and cables deter opportune thefts, which are the majority of all thefts, so aim to make a casual passerby think twice! Plus, we understand that when traveling by air, around 25% of bag loss (theft) occurs during the time they are "checked" and around 25% are "lost" (stolen) at baggage reclaim.
A cheap method of checking to see if your
luggage has been opened is to put a cable tie around the same features
lock. This has to be cut off to gain access thus indicating the bag has been opened. Please note: you will need to use something like nail clippers (our recommendation)
at your destination to achieve this - just don't pack your nail clippers in bags you plan to lock - and don't forget to pack spares for your return journey.
We suggest using a lock
and a cable tie for a “belt & braces” approach. Apparently locks
known to break off in transit, without any intentional security breach
told)! Any suitable cable ties can be used, you may have some in your home, however 4-inch brightly colored ones are ideal.
If carrying a computer consider using a specialized cable
lock to keep it secure while on the go. This allows you to attach a cable into the computer and loop around an immovable object such as a post, desk etc.
We like the locks provided by Kensington. While they have keyed lock models (which require you to carry a key with you) we prefer the combination ones: they have both numbers (K64673AM) and letters (K64684US). Kensington also supply a very useful desk anchor, great for dorms, offices etc.
Please note these locks are not compatible with Apple computers, so will need an adaptor like the one from Snake.
For items carried in your bag, if these
are misplaced/left behind people who find them (including law enforcement agencies) may have no way to trace
the owner. Fortunately there are a few solutions:
1. UV Marker
Use an UV marker pen to write your State abbreviation and your driver license number on the item(s). This is readable under UV (black) light and law enforcement agencies will often check and seek to return the item to its owner accordingly. Finding quality UV pens and lights (you need to be able to read as you write!) is difficult, even costly ones are of low quality. Our suggested set and individual items are, we believe, the best all rounders for the price. UV ink does not last indefinitely so you may find it beneficial to check all marked items on an annual basis and "touch-up" as necessary.
If you already have a rotary tool, like a Dremel, you should be able to engrave suitable items - even if you have to buy a engraving tip for it. However, if you do not possess such an item an inexpensive Dremel kit is available. Use this, with the included number/letter template (also available as an expanded separate kit) to etch your State abbreviation code and driver license number to permanently mark "hard" property items.
3. Return Me Labels
These sticky labels (previously known as "Stuffbak") work in a similar manner to Trace Me Luggage Tracker (see above) but instead of a bar code there is a web address and telephone number. People can contact and receive a reward (which you can even increase out of your own pocket, should you wish) for returning the lost item. Purchase direct from ReturnMe Global Recovery Service.
We trust you may never have to put these security measures to practical use but, as with all things, better prepared than unprepared!