Consumers' guards drop while they take in their new surroundings, leaving them vulnerable to thieves
When you go on vacation, do you take your valuables with you or leave them at home?
If you take them along, you may be more susceptible to having them stolen, according to Matt Dumpert, a senior director at security consulting company Kroll.
"So many things are new on a vacation, and while you're taking it all in, your guard drops a bit, leaving you vulnerable to theft," he said.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your possessions during your travels.
- Don't need it? Don't bring it
- Don't show off
- Avoid the in-room safe
- Stay alert
- Stay off social media
Most people bring valuable items on their vacations that they don't really need, such as expensive jewelry. The best thing to do is to leave all items at home that will cause significant financial loss if stolen or lost. If you need to bring it, buy a travel insurance policy covering personal property loss.
Avoid showing off your wealth. Note that this can be interpreted in different ways depending on where you are: the latest smartphone is common on the streets of London, but it will make you a target in less affluent countries.
"These signs of wealth make you a prime target for crime," said Dumpert.
Many travelers entrust their valuables to the safe in their room, but this is a mistake. According to Dumpert, many hotel employees also have access to the safe, such as housekeeping and maintenance staff members. Instead, ask if the hotel has a central safe that only a few can open, and if it does, request that your valuables be stored in it.
"This hotel safe isn't foolproof, but it keeps the property more accountable should anything go missing," said Dumpert.
According to Dumpert, thieves target those who seem unfamiliar with their surroundings or are otherwise distracted. Stay alert as you walk, and if you need to look at a map or your phone for directions, duck into a coffee shop or store.
It's tempting to post pictures on social media throughout your vacation, but this is a bad idea. Smart criminals watch social media networks and have tools that can pinpoint travelers' exact geographic location.
"They see how you're dressed and may have a sense of your lifestyle based on other photos you've posted," he said, "and will seek you out for your valuables."