Have you ever settled into your seat on an airplane only to be struck with the realization that you’ve left something valuable in your hotel room? If so, you’re not alone in experiencing that sinking feeling. Each year, thousands of hotel guests leave behind everything from toys to ipad chargers to wedding rings – and getting them back (if they ever do) often involves many fruitless phone calls and emails.
However, a new Internet portal is helping to reunite lost items with their owners. Chargerback works by allowing hotels to upload a description of whatever it is they’ve found when clearing out a guest’s room. Guests can also log onto the site and enter information about their missing possessions. If there’s a match, the website alerts the guest who can either go and pick up the item themselves or opt to have it shipped to them for an average cost of $10-13.The website officially launched today but already around 30 hotels in the U.S. have gotten onboard. The company behind the initiative believes there’s a need for this kind of service and says their research has shown that around a third of adults surveyed had lost an item valued at more than $150 when away from home. Chargerback told USA Today it is considering expanding the lost and found service to include other locales such as airplanes and rental cars.
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.
If the safe inside your hotel room is electronic, follow these procedures to keep your valuables even safer:
Before and after entering your key code, wipe the touch keys with a damp cloth, then dry the keys.
After the door is locked, firmly press all numbered keys once. This may set off a small alarm, but it will stop quickly.
Why would you do this? There have been reports that in some hotels the hotel staff was placing a powder or oil residue on the touch keys, which when lit, showed them which numbers on the safe were pressed. Wiping the keys clean and pressing them all throws potential thieves off the trail.
I meant to ask you before my vacation — what’s your secret for packing jewelry? In what do you pack it and how? Some outfits I have look better with gold, and some look better with silver. Then there’s a myriad of “fun” jewelry that include bracelets, necklaces with different charms, earrings to match, etc. The thing about the “fun” jewelry is that it causes the security alarms to go off in some places, so I try not to wear it on days of travel, wearing either gold, silver or nothing at all, which means I’m forced to pack it. Just curious as to how you did it so it wouldn’t get broken, tangled or lost.
My secret to packing jewelry is simple. I don’t pack it. Ever. When I’m working a trip I wear my wedding band, a necklace and a nice watch. When I’m traveling for pleasure I might pack a cheap bracelet and a few pairs of earrings that wouldn’t cause me distress if they were to become lost, stolen, or broken. But I always leave the good stuff at home. When it comes to traveling, I firmly believe that less is more and that includes the jewelry. I mean do you really need all that silver and gold to go with all those outfits? And where will you hide it all after you’ve checked into your room? I ask because I’m not so sure I’d trust the hotel safe with something really valuable. I’ve used the safe on several occassions, and while I’ve never had any problems, I can’t help but wonder who many people out there have access to the code.
I decided to contact an expert who deals with security and high net worth. When I told him your question about traveling with jewelry, he had this to say…
I assume this is more than one piece and would be considered valuable. Couriers are told the same as I will tell you. You never pack your jewelry. Hand carry only. If you put it in your suitcase TSA will screen it and G-d knows who else. If its stolen from your suitcase you will get a few hundred dollars based upon their limit of liability which should be on the back of your ticket. No evidence, no suspects, no police investigation, no crime scene, no responsibility and if you by chance ever proved it, you will be in court with the Dept of Homeland Security until you grow old.
I would put the jewelry in a sandwich bag and hand carry it in your carry on. Leave it on top but put a few things over it. Watch the bag go through the x ray before you pass the metal detector. If they want to look at the bag ask for a private screening. Also ask for a supervisor or second screener to be present. You will not be allowed to touch your bag but they will be able to see the jewelry through the sandwich bag without having to touch it either. Do not leave the bag unattended for any reason during the inspection. Maintain hand or sight of the jewelry at all times even if you are asked by an agent to move. You are never to separate yourself from your property until the bag is returned to your custody.
Hope that helps, Angela! If you (or anyone else) have another question feel free to email me at Skydoll123@yahoo.com
You recall that recently, Justin treated us to a tutorial on how to make an underwear safe. That, of course, was an excellent tip for keeping valuables safe while traveling. However, for those of us who DON’T feel like slipping our fingers down the crotch of our pants every time we need to tip the bartender, let’s go over a few others:
Carry only small amounts of cash at any time.
Use the hotel’s safe.
Considering making a “throw-away wallet.”
Keep any briefcases, suitcases, purses, backpacks, etc., in sight when in public.
If you must carry large amounts of cash, try to split the piles up, so if somebody picks one pocket, the remaining cash is safe.
Looking for other tips? Check out these travel safe resources: