How to break into a hotel room with a rubber band

This past February, we showed you a video of how easily a thief could break into a hotel room, using nothing more than a simple piece of wire. Apparently that’s not the only way. According to a recent video posted at Blackbag, the blog of professional lock picker Barry Weis, a hotel room chain lock can be opened with nothing more than a simple rubber band. Watch in disbelief as a hand slips through the crack in the door, latches on a rubber band, and pulls the chain out of the bolt. It’s an amazingly cunning trick, thought it does raise a few questions. For instance, how would a thief using this trick get the door open if it was locked from the outside?

Before breaking into a state of safety hysteria, remember that not every hotel room is a burglary waiting to happen. Use common sense and don’t leave your valuables lying around when you leave the room. Use the in-room or hotel safe. And if possible, try to stay in rooms with bar-style locks rather than chain ones.

[Via View from the Wing]

TSA disproves blogger’s claim that agent took her baby

On Friday, a blogger reported a harrowing tale that would make any parent furious with the TSA. She claims that, while going through security, she was detained because her son’s pacifier clip set off the metal detector. When she was pulled aside for a search, her son was taken away from her by a male TSA agent and was out of her sight for several minutes.

On her blog, she recounts the story of how she was so upset that she screamed obscenities, almost blacked out, and frantically phoned her husband and mother over the course of the nearly ten minutes that her child was out of her sight. She says when the agent finally returned with her son, she ran to him. Once she was allowed to leave, she headed to the bathroom, again nearly blacked out, and took the “emergency Xanax” that she keeps with her at all times because she suffers from severe anxiety.

Well, she might want to take a few more Xanax, because it sounds like this whole episode may have been the result of anxiety-induced hallucinations. The TSA has released proof that the incident, as the blogger claims, never happened.

The video of the blogger and her son going through security has been posted on the TSA website. The nearly 10-minute long video clearly shows that not once was her son out of her sight, that she never picked up her cellphone and that a TSA agent never held her child (though one did pat him down for about 10 seconds). While she is being patted down, her son is visible no more than three feet away, siting in his stroller. Even her claim that her belongings were left on the conveyor belt is false. A TSA agent brings them to the search area shortly after she walks over.

It’s easy to get mad at the TSA, with their frequent fumbles and ever-changing rules about liquids, powders, and shoes. Who likes being forced to walk barefoot (or in my case, often in mismatched socks) around an airport or to have to wait (as she did) ten minutes to be cleared through security? But if you’re thinking of getting even with a falsified account like this, just remember: when dealing with the TSA, you’re always on camera.

London pickpockets are giving the money back

Visitors to London may find that if they aren’t careful, they could wind up with some strange fingers in their pockets or purses. And while that’s nothing new, this time it might not be a bad thing. A group of former pick-pockets is working the streets of London this month, but instead of stealing money, they are giving it away to their unsuspecting “victims”.

The “put-pocketing” plan is being funded by a local broadband provider called TalkTalk and carried out by 20 former-pickpockets who want to make up for the wrongdoings of their pasts. Between July 1 and the end of the month, at least £100,000 will be given away, mostly in £5 and £20 increments, as a marketing promotion for the company. The covert deposits are taking place in busy areas like Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus and on the Tube. According to the Communications Director of TalkTalk, the areas where the money will be given out were strategically chosen “as we want to give the money to people who actually need it.”

While it would be nice to find an extra £20 note in my pocket at the end of the day, I think I’d stay vigilant. I’m sure there are still a number of unreformed pick-pockets out there who, if they get their hands into your bag, will not be kindly leaving you some cash. And now they have the perfect alibi if they get caught: “Of course I wasn’t stealing your wallet. I was giving you money!”

[via Reuters]

Mexican resort beach shut down, accused of stealing sand

Visitors to a Cancun beach found themselves restricted by yellow crime-scene tape yesterday, when Mexican police cordoned off the beach under accusations that the sand was stolen.

According to the AP release, after Hurricane Wilma washed away much of the resort area’s beach in 2005, Mexico spent $19 million replacing it with sand pumped from the sea floor. That sand has been slowly eroding, prompting some resorts to build breakwaters, which keep their beaches nice and sandy, but result in more sand loss for the surrounding beach areas.

The Mexican police are claiming that the resorts who’ve built these breakwaters are, in effect, stealing the beach from others. They’ve also detained five people they believe were using pumps to bring up more sand from the ocean floor. Mexico’s Attorney General for environmental protection said the beach at the Gran Caribe Real Hotel was made of “ill-gotten, illegally accumulated sand” and decided to shut it down.

Many tourists and hotel guests gathered around the “stolen” beach area and complained about the closure. There was no indication of when the beach would reopen and at the time of writing, the resort’s webcam was not active on its website.

Missing: Jamaican beach

A beach has gone missing in Jamaica, and no one is blaming erosion, global warming, or stormy weather. Police suspect that someone(s) stole five hundred truckloads of white sand from a planned resort at Coral Spring Beach. The theft was in July, but no arrests have yet been made, which begs the question: How does the removal of five hundred truckloads of sand — or anything — go unnoticed?

Many suspect that there’s been some sort of cover-up, and even the police spokesperson has said that some officers were probably involved in the theft. Yet they insist there has been no cover-up. They simply say that the lack of charges in the case is due to its complexity and the number of people involved. But do they even know who was involved? That much is unclear.

Illegal sand mining is common in Jamaica because the sand is a valuable construction material. However, the volume and type of sand stolen suggests that the thieves are probably from the tourism industry, like other hotels. The beach that was stolen from Coral Springs was to be part of a $108 million resort complex, but its theft has held up the development plans.