Is Camera Theft from Luggage Common ?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Magnusfarce, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. Magnusfarce

    Magnusfarce Guest

    I travel a bit and am about to come into possession of a relatively
    expensive camera. Because DSLR's are a bit bulky, I would need to pack the
    camera in luggage rather than carry it on board (my briefcase, laptop, and
    such maintain top priority as carryons). Even with current, stringent
    luggage inspection requirements, I've not had any theft-from-luggage
    problems in my travels. However, I've rarely kept such a juicy target in my
    bags. What are people's experiences with the safety of their cameras in
    checked luggage? (I'm talking about domestic, here. International travel
    is a separate matter.)

    - Magnusfarce
    Magnusfarce, Oct 13, 2004
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  2. Magnusfarce

    Charlie Self Guest

    Magnusfarce asks:
    Get a camera bag that will also take your computer. My cameras stay with me,
    unless they're shipped fully insured. My guess is that most of the new transit
    cops are honest. I know. though, that early background checks were poor, with
    some people having felony convictions slipping through. That may not be so now,
    but protecting against thievery is easy, if inconvenient, so why take any
    chance at all that you might convert an honest person into a thief.

    Charlie Self
    "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind
    simultaneously, and accepting both of them." George Orwell
    Charlie Self, Oct 13, 2004
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  3. Magnusfarce

    BG250 Guest

    Never put a camera in checked baggage! Chances are it will make it, but
    chances are too high it will get stolen.
    The heavy X-Ray dose may also effect the memory.
    BG250, Oct 13, 2004
  4. Magnusfarce

    PTravel Guest

    Never, ever, ever pack valuables in checked luggage.

    1. In the US, TSA requires that luggage be unlocked, or locked with special
    locks to which, supposedly, they have the key. In practice, it's quite
    likely your luggage will arrive at its destination open.

    2. Checked luggage is subject to high-intensity x-ray -- far stronger than
    what is used for carry-on. Do you want to risk your memory cards to such

    3. Airlines lose luggage. If you're lucky, your luggage will only be
    delayed for a few days. Airlines' liability for lost luggage is limited and
    will probably be exceeded by the cost of a good DSLR and a lens or two. If
    you're travelling internationally, liability for lost luggage is controlled
    by the Warsaw Convention, and goes by weight -- maximum compensation is
    about $600.

    4. Luggage handlers abuse checked luggage. It is thrown around, dropped
    from heights, smashed together, etc.

    5. Internationally, some airports are notorious for theft from luggage. If
    you have a problem, how long do you think you will spend there to report it
    to police and cooperate in the investigation (assuming any is made at all).
    PTravel, Oct 13, 2004
  5. There are thefts. Many people claim it's from the people scanning luggage
    as well as baggage handlers. The airlines have liability limited to an
    amount often smaller than the value of the camera. I would not check a
    valuable camera unless I had it fully insured. I would not check a
    valuable camera if I needed it upon arrival and had no quick way to replace
    it, even if I had it insured. Generally, I would never check anything of

    Consider the inconvenience of bringing the bulky camera on board with you
    versus the inconvenience of finding it's been stolen from your unlocked
    checked bag.
    Phil Stripling, Oct 13, 2004
  6. Magnusfarce

    GT40 Guest

    Is it common, no. But if it happens to you it doesn't matter. Never
    check your camera gear in, have it as carry on or ship it insured. I
    know some professionals that buy extra space in the cabin for long
    lenses etc. You should check with the airline on thier policy.
    Others ship it FedEx, and have it waiting at the airport they fly
    into, so they can pick it up when they land.
    GT40, Oct 13, 2004
  7. Magnusfarce

    Linda_N Guest

    I agree. There are too many people out there that believe if you are
    careless enough to let value items out of your sight than you deserve to
    have them taken from you. Add to that reduced screening standards for
    employment (grade 12 GED [person only has grade 8] instead of Academic 12
    graduation, Criminal record allowed now as long as the act was not theft or
    assault related and even then some forms of assault are forgiven, no 20/20
    eyesight requirements for some people now, only basic computer literacy
    required etc...), in the past 20 years or so which has resulted in
    increased chances of papers getting filled out wrong or read incorrectly, a
    computer transaction getting flubbed up, and your luggage ending up in the
    wrong country where theft is common, for instance.

    In terms of the USA (or Canada for that matter), when the FBI is called into
    question/suspicion for having people related to terrorism working within the
    organization one does not have to think too hard on how trustworthy those
    working in airport with less strict screening practices for employment might
    or might not be.

    Linda_N, Oct 13, 2004
  8. Magnusfarce

    Archibald Guest

    Review what your airline will allow for carry-on -- it is common for
    them to allow one small suitcase, plus one "personal" item like a
    briefcase, plus small items such as a camera.
    Archibald, Oct 13, 2004
  9. Magnusfarce

    Bill Hilton Guest

    You can get a good-sized carry-on legal camera bag to hold your camera gear (we
    use a LowePro PhotoTrekker, which holds two large dSLR's, a 500 f/4 and several
    other smaller lenses) and also bring a briefcase sized bag for your computer.
    You are allowed one larger bag and one "personal item" like the briefcase. We
    do this all the time, the only times you run into a hassle are with the small
    jets and on those you just hand-carry the larger bag to the plane and someone
    takes it by hand and personally puts it in the cargo area and you pick it up
    when you land, bypassing the usual baggage claim area.
    We've had locks cut off three times by TSA and are now using the TSA approved
    locks, but in July one of THOSE was cut off (even though they supposedly have
    the keys) in Anchorage. There's a good chance your luggage will arrive
    unlocked if you have anything in there that looks suspicious in the xray, like
    a battery charger or tripod head.
    I personally would avoid it if at all possible. You can even carry on the
    camera around your neck to avoid checking it in, note. We've only had one bag
    seriously misplaced but it took them 3 months to find it ... and the airline
    insurance won't cover much of the cost of a good camera.
    Bill Hilton, Oct 13, 2004
  10. Magnusfarce

    Gary Stewart Guest

    I put my equipment in a beat up case and simply tag it "morticians
    supplies". No one even looks at it.

    Gary Stewart, Oct 13, 2004
  11. Don't be tempted to do it. Valuables should never be put in luggage.
    There have been many reports of equipment missing from luggage and if it
    does go missing, there is little chance that you will receive any
    compensation for the loss.
    Joseph Meehan, Oct 13, 2004
  12. Magnusfarce

    Alfred Molon Guest

    The bigger problem is that if you put delicate and fragile optical
    equipment into checked luggage, there is a high risk that it will break,
    because checked luggage is subject to very rough treatment in airports.
    I would not even dream of putting an expensive DLSR into checked

    If a DSLR is too heavy, consider getting a more portable camera.
    Alfred Molon, Oct 13, 2004
  13. Magnusfarce

    WMAS 1960 Guest

    Remember also and read on the back of your ticket or other literature on the
    Airlines websites or what is mailed or emailed to you. In most if not all
    cases the airlines are NOT responsible for valuables damaged and lost in your
    luggage. Even if their fault. They SPECIFICALLY disclaim liability for a
    whole bunch of things including pharmacuticals, jewelry, electronics, photo and
    video equipment, cash.... and the list goes on.

    So, with the airlines not willing to accept responsibility and the fact that
    you can not secure your bags anymore....., You used to be able to put a lock
    or cable tie on your bag if, for nothing more than to keep a zipper or latch
    from coming open, you are not allowed to do that anymore since every bag is
    subject to a hand inspection. Every Bag is now being scanned and someone can
    see that there is a camera or jewelry or other valuable items in your bag. It
    used to be that bags were an unknown. Employees would have to rifle through
    unknown contents looking for their pot of gold or needle in a haystack. Now
    they can see the high prospect bags before they even get started. If there are
    people working in teams this could be a risk.

    I don't mean to put too much distrust in the security people. Like was said,
    they are probably honorable trustworthy people for the most part. And
    certainly are probably being monitored. But, there is always the possibility
    which is too much when everyone specifically disclaims liability for lost
    property. Then you factor in bagage handlers who like to throw your bags
    around all over the place. I remember footage of an incident in Minneapolis, I
    think it was, where handlers were taped playing basketball with boxes coming
    off a plane. Slam dunking them into a cart.

    A good way to have a lens sheared off your DSLR.

    My understanding is that you are entitled to 2 bags when you get on the plane.
    ONE carry-on and ONE "Personal Item" Computer Cases, Purses, Briefcases, Baby
    (diaper) Bags... are considered "Personal Items" So, I am with the person
    that suggests getting a bigger bag that can carry your computer and your
    camera. Some of those small bags with wheels that can fit in the overhead
    might be an option. I say small but that is in relation to the larger similar
    bags. There are actually some that are LARGE computer cases that are the same
    thing. Put items like your computer, cameras, cell phone and other similar
    items in that bag. Then you would have your briefcase which would carry
    personal papers, reading material, a couple snacks..... One of the bags MUST
    fit under your seat. The other has the added ability to be able to fit in
    the overhead bin. Both bags MUST fit through the opening of the xray at

    I would add the following suggestions also. Get to the airport plenty early.
    Make sure you leave plenty of time to not be rushed through security. You will
    have to remove your computer ( if you are carrying one) from your bag. Cameras
    and lenses are also commonly targets for hand inspection. They may make you
    fire a few shots, remove a lens, remove caps from lenses so they can look
    through and see that nothing is inside. You will need to be ready to have all
    batteries charged and capable of being demonstrated that they are, in fact,
    batteries and work on the items they are intended for. And that the electronic
    item is operational. Ie. turning on radios or cameras....

    Go over yourself and empty your pockets of all items, keys, change, jewelry...
    that might set off the metal detector. Don't wear heavy belt buckles or
    jewelry. Brass, I have noticed, will set off MDrs easilly. I wear those
    military type belts a lot. The brass ones where you slip the brass tab of the
    belt through the buckle and a little round bar holds it in place? That
    buckle and sometimes the brass tab on the belt set off the MDr every time.
    Think also about shoes. Try and wear simple athletic shoes to the airport.
    They will likely be more comfortable for all the walking as well but have the
    benefit of NOT containing any metal.

    It may not be as much of a problem these days since everyone going through
    security needs to be a ticketed passenger. However, the above mentioned is to
    keep you from being separated from your bags. If you are traveling with
    someone else, pace yourselves through a little. Put all the bags through,
    hesitate for a moment and then go through. One can watch the bags while the
    other comes through. If one of you should get stopped for a hand search the
    bags will not be left vulnerable. By going over yourself before hand reducing
    your chances to be stopped you should be able to be through security when your
    bags come out of the machine. There have been scams in the past where someone
    loitering around the ends of the xray will be ready to grab valuables while
    people are bing wanded, so be careful.

    You might also want to select seating toward the back of the plane so you are
    one of the first ones on the plane. They always board the plane, 1. people
    needing assistance or with younguns. 2. First Class, then from the back of
    the plane forward. Boarding early gives you more access to overhead bins for
    your larger bag. If you get on later and all the overhead space is taken and
    your bag(s) won't fit or fit under your seat they will require you to check
    it/them. Also, be ready to board as soon as they read your seat number. For
    the same reasons just mentioned.
    WMAS 1960, Oct 13, 2004
  14. Magnusfarce

    WMAS 1960 Guest

    That is not entirely a bad idea.

    I bought a Nikon D100 a few years ago and have a Canon XL-1 video camera.
    When I am going on certain trips, I will often take those cameras with me, or
    as others have suggested, ship them ahead to where I will be staying. However,
    for shorter trips or trips that are solely for enjoyment or just for travel, I
    have taken to buy or utilize smaller less conspicuous equipment. Whenever I go
    to Las Vegas for example. I don't want my expensive equipment chained around
    me like a ball and chain. Afraid to leave them in a hotel room and having to
    carry them around everywhere I go. Not to mention that bigger equipment looks
    more serious and attracts more attention. Especially from security etc. who
    think you are there on professional or commercial purposes. So, whenever
    traveling like that I take my old Coolpix 990. It is only 3mpxls but for
    Vacation photos that is just fine. This year I bought a Sony TRV-22 Handicam
    to take for video. It provides a perfectly good picture, fits in the palm of
    my hand and if I were to loose it, drop it, have it stolen it wouldn't be the
    end of the world. At $500 for the Video Camera and about the same to replace
    the Coolpix with a better similar model they are a lot more affordable than
    loosing the other cameras and having to pay $4000 for a new D100 and Lenses...
    or $5000 for an XL-2.

    Sometimes, larger equipment can actually get in the way of having a good time
    on a trip.
    WMAS 1960, Oct 13, 2004
  15. Magnusfarce

    Linda_N Guest

    With orgin theft, and increased abuse of prescription drugs? I think there
    would be more interest in a case like that than there would be in regular
    baggage on the conveyer.

    Linda_N, Oct 13, 2004
  16. Just erase the data, or actually damage the card?
    Justín Käse, Oct 13, 2004
  17. Magnusfarce

    Bryce Guest

    I don't know why I keep doing it.. but everytime I put my slr in my baggage,
    when I get to my destination, I've always gotta buy a new one.
    Bryce, Oct 13, 2004
  18. Magnusfarce

    Ron Hunter Guest

    NEVER put your camera in the luggage. It is subject to much rough
    handling, often goes where you don't, and since it is now opened for
    inspection, theft is a growing problem.

    If you want to use the camera at the other end of the flight, keep it
    with you and put something else in the luggage.
    Ron Hunter, Oct 13, 2004
  19. Magnusfarce

    Special Ed Guest

    Airlines and TSA general advise against putting any kind of valuables in
    checked baggage. If you do, buy the extra insurance-- and hope you won't
    need your camera at your destination;-)

    Special Ed, Oct 13, 2004
  20. I can speak from the experience of others. 1) My sister moved from New
    York to London years ago. She packed some jewelry and two cameras in her
    check-in luggage and it never left Kennedy Airport. The luggage left, but
    not the jewelry and the cameras. 2) I work with a fellow who used to work
    at Kennedy Airport for Japan Airlines. He also later worked for another
    company involved in international shipping out of Kennedy. He told me that
    the union workers who load the luggage onto the planes are experts at
    stealing - they load the luggage in such a way that they can rifle through
    the baggage in the cargo hold out of sight of their foreman who might check
    on them.
    Peter A. Stavrakoglou, Oct 13, 2004
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