How Often Is Luggage Stolen From Baggage Claims?

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Have you ever wondered if luggage could just be stolen from baggage claims? I haven’t had that experience yet, and I hope that I never will but I know some travelers who have and they always tell me that it was not a good experience.

This article will talk about whether anyone can just steal your luggage from the luggage conveyor belt and what to do if that happens. You’ll also learn what to do in case your bag doesn’t show up in baggage claims and what are some steps you can take to prevent luggage theft.

Can’t Anyone Just Steal Your Luggage From the Luggage Conveyor Belt?

checked luggage conveyor belt in airport

While taking any luggage from the luggage conveyor belt and running off with it sounds like an easy task, it’s actually more challenging than that. Even if the thief were to be very careful, there’s a chance that they would have left behind an ID and/or a name for airport transactions. Most likely, they would also be caught in action grabbing from the luggage conveyor belt.

Airports have cameras installed in various places that are constantly monitoring every movement. Should an owner file a missing bag complaint, the security can check the video to see if their luggage was claimed by someone else on the conveyor belt.

In other countries, each luggage tag is checked in every check-in bag, just to make sure that the person is carrying the right one and to prevent theft. Plus, what would a thief get from luggage, other than dirty laundry and other things that don’t hold much value? Unless a suitcase is see-through (which they aren’t) there’s no telling if they’re picking up something valuable at all. Also, there’s a chance that a thief might pick up luggage that contains items that need to be declared. In that case, they will still get caught.

Nevertheless, it’s safe to note that some thieves do get away with it. Even if they don’t pick up your whole luggage, they might open it and steal some things inside. This is why we always advise travelers to take their valuables with them. From gadgets to jewelry to whatever else is precious to you, it’s safer if they’re with you all the time, that is, in your personal bag or carry-on luggage. There’s no guarantee that they will always be secure even if your luggage has the latest locks or is made of anti-slash material.

How Often Is Luggage Stolen From Baggage Claims? (Airport Baggage Theft Statistics)

Authorities say that bag theft is on the rise again as travel picks up. Airport employees are encouraging passengers to be vigilant and to grab their bags as soon as possible from baggage claims.

According to the Department of Transportation, more than a million bags were lost or stolen in 2018, resulting in $1.2 billion missing valuables. Nevertheless, considering the number of people flying that’s 1 in 3333 passengers (or a 0.03% chance).

What to Do if Your Luggage Doesn’t Show Up in Baggage Claims

It can be tempting to give in to fear and anxiety when you make it to baggage claims as fast as you can, but your luggage is nowhere to be seen. That’s when you start wondering, “Where is my luggage? Did it get left behind? Did someone steal it?”
Before you start panicking, take a deep breath. It’s likely that one of the three following scenarios has happened.

  1. Your luggage was left behind and didn’t fly with you.
  2. Your luggage got lost or left behind on the plane.
  3. Your luggage was accidentally claimed by someone or stolen.

The first thing you need to do is alert the airline staff about your problem. Sometimes, in the rush of things, your luggage might have been left behind on the airplane or might even be on a different luggage carousel. It will help if you have a picture of your luggage or an identifier (other than your luggage tag) so that they can properly describe it and it will be easy to spot in case it is lying somewhere else in the airport.

If that isn’t the case, the next thing you need to do is file a missing baggage report. You need to provide as detailed a description as you can, from the color and all the way down to the material and brand of your bag. Sometimes, the airline staff will realize that it was left behind so you can be assured that they will get to you as soon as possible.

Read Next: How Long Does It Take to Find Lost Luggage?

Will You Get Reimbursed for Stolen Luggage?

If the airline staff are unable to find your luggage, then it might be safe to assume that the luggage has been stolen or is lost completely. Most airlines are willing to compensate you for missing or lost luggage. Often, they will give you amenity kits and reimburse you to some extent.

It varies from airline to airline, however. Most airlines have their set policies to determine whether a bag has been officially lost. If it can be proven that they mishandled your luggage, there’s a big possibility that you’ll be reimbursed for the bag itself as well as the items inside.

Nevertheless, if your luggage was picked up by a random person with the intent of stealing your luggage, there’s no guarantee that the airline will take responsibility for it. You can always try and ask them, but you should also prepare yourself in case they claim that it is neither their fault nor responsibility.

If you’re thinking of getting travel insurance it might be worth a try to see if they cover stolen luggage in certain situations. You’ll also need to check regarding the items they cover as the coverage may be limited to the items covered by the policy.

Tip: It’s always helpful to make sure your luggage tags have complete details. That way, if someone accidentally picks up your luggage, they will be able to contact you to return it. If you want to spot your luggage easily and stand out in the sea of other suitcases, it’s best to get luggage with unique colors or patterns or use a luggage cover.

How to Prevent Theft From Checked Luggage

A brightly patterned suitcase on a luggage conveyor belt

While luggage theft doesn’t happen to everyone, it’s best to take the necessary steps to keep it from happening. Here are some things you can do:

If You Can, Carry On Your Luggage Instead of Checking It In

As much as possible, and if you aren’t bringing too many things, it might be good to skip checking in your belongings and taking everything with you on your carry-on instead. Not only will you be able to keep an eye on your things, but it will also force you to pack light and save on the cost of checked luggage.

Keep Your Valuables with You Always

It’s always better to carry your valuables with you in your personal bag or checked luggage instead of storing them in your checked bags. Valuable items can be easily spotted through airport scanners and security cameras. Someone might see what you’re bringing and decide to steal it.

Get Your Bag As Soon As You Land

If you can skip that trip to the restroom (or make sure to use the restroom before the plane starts its descent), you’ll be able to get to the luggage carousel faster. This means you’ll be there the moment the suitcases from your flight come in. Not only will that not give the thief time to snatch your bag, but it also allows you to exit the airport sooner.

Lock Your Bags

If your luggage has TSA-approved locks, make sure they are locked before you go on your flight. If not, you can easily buy TSA-approved locks from various shops as well as ties that will secure your items further. A well-locked bag isn’t easy to access. Plus it might intimidate the thieves who are looking for something easy to snatch.

Take a Photo of Your Luggage and Its Contents

When you’re done packing, it might be good to take a photo of all the things you’ve packed as well as how your luggage looks. In case your luggage does get lost, you can show these photos to the airline staff so they can easily spot them.

Use Colorful Bags

While black and grey are everyone’s favorite when it comes to luggage colors, sometimes, having a unique-looking suitcase that stands out will work to your advantage. Thieves tend to stick to stealing those that aren’t easy to spot because they’re much more difficult to track down. They’ll steer clear of suitcases with bright colors or unique patterns because those can be seen immediately. Plus, if it’s personalized, they won’t be able to pretend it is theirs when it is obviously someone else’s.

Tip: If you already own a dark-colored suitcase, you can always get a colorful luggage cover.

Install a GPS Tracker on Your Luggage

If you want to keep an eye on your luggage, you can install a GPS tracker on your suitcase and track its status through an app. It might seem a little overkill, but if you want to be sure about your luggage’s whereabouts, this is one way to do it.

Use Bag Delivery Services

If you don’t want to have to worry about your luggage, you can always go with a luggage delivery service that will pick up your luggage from your house and then deliver it directly to the place where you are staying. That way, your luggage isn’t just lying around for anyone to snatch and you don’t have to lug it to and from the airport. One less thing to worry about!

Some luggage delivery services you can check out are the following:

Final Words

Luggage theft is real and alarming, but fortunately, it doesn’t happen to every traveler. The key thing to do is to keep a lookout for everything you’re bringing all the time and take steps to ensure that your belongings are safe. There are many ways to keep your luggage safe and they aren’t that difficult at all. If you are able to do those, then you’ll be able to go on your trip without having to worry about anything.

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