Is your luggage really safe with TSA locks?

November 23, 2010 12:20:33 AM PST
If you, or someone you know, is flying for Thanksgiving there is more to worry about than the TSA's aggressive security pat-downs. When it comes to protecting your luggage, only TSA approved locks are allowed, but even those are no guarantee your belongings will be safe.

If you take your eyes off your bags for just a moment, you could give thieves a real opening and here's your proof.

Stolen luggage has become a big business. At one Arizona location, a couple was caught with more than 1,000 stolen bags. Cases like this make headlines, but often thieves are much more stealth.

Travel attorney Al Anolik knows a thing or two about luggage and loss and what he's about to show us is nothing short of astounding.

"Here I've got the TSA lock. I have other locks over here. I am going to protect my stuff," Anolik says while demonstrating how to break into a bag with locks.

The TSA approved locks are a nice theory, but there's this.

"You take any pen and you stick it right into the teeth," Anolik says while showing us how to tear through the zipper and take out items.

"It is already open, you reach in, you don't have to look, take out a passport to sell to the terrorists, electronics to keep, medicines that you usually have with you? your gold watch," says Anolik as he demonstrates this. "Then close it up before anyone sees what is happening and it is all locked."

It seems like the perfect crime, but is it really that easy? Could a rank amateur pull it off?

7 On Your Side tries it out at the San Francisco Goodwill store. We're able to break into bag after bag -- it is that easy. But is an issue? The luggage must have a zipper after all.

We go to the San Francisco International Airport to have a look around to see if the vulnerability really is that prevalent and yes, nearly every bag has a zipper.

Finney: "Now Al, I can already here the phone calls. People are going to call me and say, 'You just showed the bad guys how to rip us all off.'"

Anolik: "No. The bad guys know how to do this, I am showing the good guys who are traveling and getting ripped off, when they shouldn't be, how to travel with preventative legal care."

Anolik's advice is to pack light and keep an eye on your bags.

7 On Your Side's advice is to put a strap around your suitcase.

Nothing is foolproof, but the less you bring the less you can be ripped off, and keeping your bags with you at all times helps too. That includes carrying them onto the plane, instead of checking them.


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