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ozone
06-09-2009, 07:25 PM
While I was hunting around for man-bags, I ended up revisiting the Pacsafe website and looking at all the anti-theft features of their bags. Admittedly, I don't think their products are as good looking or functional as my TB bags, but sometimes I worry about using, say, my large Cafe bag, in crowded situations (e.g., packed subway) given that there's no way to completely close off the top from wandering hands. I doubt anybody is going to slash through the shoulder strap anytime soon, but the bottom could be cut through given a thief with a sharp knife and the right opportunity.

Has anybody thought about how to prevent casual theft, or a way to make TB bags more secure? Pacsafe has a metal mesh bag that can be used in other bags, and I'm wondering if something like that can be used in TB bags.

Frank II
06-09-2009, 08:51 PM
I had the same thought.....my plan is to put anything of value I carry in my cafe bag (camera, ipod, cellphone) in a pouch that's connected to one of the "o" rings inside the bag. This way, if the bottom is cut, the "good stuff" is in a pouch still connected to the bag. I'm not sure if I'll get a padded pouch or a clear one.

I'll also carry the bag with the buckle against my body rather than it facing outward.

(I should mention that I only use the cafe bag for leisure travel.....if I need to carry stuff for work, I have a larger horizontal messenger bag that looks more like a briefcase. For just running errands, my pockets are fine since I don't carry that much stuff--keys, wallet, cellphone.)

Jenne
06-10-2009, 01:29 AM
I had the same thought.....my plan is to put anything of value I carry in my cafe bag (camera, ipod, cellphone) in a pouch that's connected to one of the "o" rings inside the bag. This way, if the bottom is cut, the "good stuff" is in a pouch still connected to the bag. I'm not sure if I'll get a padded pouch or a clear one.

I'll also carry the bag with the buckle against my body rather than it facing outward.

I'm planning to do the same thing when I travel someplace that's more crowded than where I live. (I already have much of my stuff in pouches-- I'm just ordering a couple more.) I also try to keep my nice stuff away from the prying gaze of would-be thieves. I almost never use my cell phone in public, for example. In colder weather, a bag can go inside the coat and under a scarf, making it much harder to get to. I also keep one hand or arm on my bag (which I wear in front.)

While traveling, I blend in as much as possible so that potential thieves don't mark me as a "rich" American. I don't wear sneakers or headphones. If I have a lot of cash with me, I set aside a little to have immediately available, so I'm not flaunting a wad of money every time I buy a coffee or a scone. I can't say for sure that these things work, but I feel safer when I blend in with the people who live there.

falconea
06-10-2009, 03:58 AM
I make my own trousers, and I make them with a secret zippered pocket which is nicely sized to hold my passport and other vitals while travelling.

Audrey

flitcraft
06-10-2009, 05:57 AM
I don't worry much about having the bag cut open with a knife. I wonder whether stories like that are urban legends--you'd have to steady the bag firmly in order to do it, and if a thief had a sharp enough knife to do the job, why wouldn't the thief simply threaten the victim and take the bag that way?

On the other hand, bags dangling from shoulders are simply begging to be snatched by purse thiefs, so wearing it across the body (especially backward, with the buckle facing inward) is a good precaution. For pickpocket purposes, I think attached pouches are the way to go. Even if a sly hand gets under the flap and into the bag, the goodies are firmly attached. I don't care as much if a pickpocket gets away with my kleenex or map or lipstick. (Well, okay, maybe I do care about the lipstick...)

Frank II
06-10-2009, 09:12 AM
Bags have been cut open...I've met people who had it happen.

The reason they cut bags and not use the knife to threaten you is the crime itself. In most European countries, pickpocketing is a petty theft and usually the criminal gets a slap on the wrist--if he's caught. In some countries, the police don't bother.

Using a knife in a mugging is a serious crime and could get the criminal years in jail. It's just not worth it to them as the police will go after them.

That's why, if you ever confront a pickpocket, they'll run away. They don' t want the hassle.

maverick
06-11-2009, 08:13 AM
many years ago - in the early 1990s, my aunt was shopping in karol bagh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karol_Bagh), in new delhi, india. she had purchased an item of clothing that she was carrying in the plastic bag provided by the store where she purchased the item. she had also placed her purse inside of that plastic bag. i'm not sure what kind of purse it was, but it was small enough to fit inside that bag.

i guess someone saw that she had her purse inside of the plastic bag and pickpocketed the purse without her realizing until later. they cut the bottom of the plastic bag and got the purse.

i can see this happening with a plastic bag. but i imagine it would be harder to cut through 1050d ballistic nylon or 1000d cordura and not get noticed. you would need a really sharp knife and need to be in a pretty crowded place and even then i don't know if you'd go unnoticed.

but it is a good idea to take every precaution you reasonably can. i like the idea of securing the bag with a waist strap when the bag has one. i also like the idea of keeping valuables (wallet, iphone, camera, really delicious food) secured in organizer pouches clipped to o-rings.

on a related note, also follow other precautions like leaving anything you don't need to carry on your person secured back at the hotel or wherever you are staying. keep photocopies of passports and other travel documents separate from the originals. i also generate an encrypted pdf file containing copies of all of my travel documents and provide it to a friend, keep a copy of the file with me on a usb key, and save one in my email. i've never gotten into that sort of mess. but if i ever do, i have several backups.

bluedenim
06-11-2009, 09:11 AM
this question of security is an interesting one.
I have never thought about the bag being cut into...

I use to carry my SLR in a backpack style camera bag. On crowded metros and stuff I alway held it and watched it but was always a bit nervous about it.

I have now switched to a messanger bag style for the camera bag. The bag has pounches inside which are velcroed to the side of teh bag. If he was cut I am not sure if they would stay inside or if the weight would be too much and they would fall out but I feel it would not be something I would not see happening. I plan to get a packsafe shoulder strap. I alreayd have a packsafe camera strap for when I have the camera around my neck. I am an advid photographer so I ussually have it out. Also the idea of carry the bag across you and with the opening towards your body is another safe measure.

I figure by doing these things it is enough to deter someone I also am ussually with my travel companion so we are both on the look out. There is only so much you can do to protect yourself.

I am curious about peoples thoughs on attaching another bag inside. If they ever get camera inserts with tom bihn that fits the bags I might consider yet another bag as a day bag.

timothy
06-11-2009, 11:39 AM
From relatively safe places, the stories about petty crimes in distant places can sound like nothing but urban legend, but anyone who's been mugged or pickpocketed knows they aren't always exaggeration.

- I've been mugged, at gunpoint, in Philadelphia, but a couple of thugs who weren't into the brotherly love thing.
- My friend Stephanie was "strangle-mugged" (just what it sounds like) in South America; she went in for breakaway straps after that.
- An acquaintance of mine caught by the wrist (and got back his wallet!) the gypsy urchin who tried to pickpocket him on a trip to Europe (forget if he was in Spain or France at the time).
- I can't recall *exactly* what happened, but several years back someone attempted to pickpocket my father, whose overstuffed wallet makes him look like a very low-budget sting operation aimed at pickpockets. Probably "he was askin' for it!" would be considered an affirmative defense, in that case.

Trouble is, making bags secure(r) is hard to do without making them heavier at the same time. I don't do it when I walk around Seattle, but on the rare occasions I travel abroad, I try to keep my passport and other most vital papers under my clothing, in the front, and hard to reach. Getting it when necessary is a slight pain, but I think on the whole less of a pain than replacing it. (I lost my passport, when I was 17, on a train in Germany -- don't want to do that again!)

timothy

peregrina
06-11-2009, 12:16 PM
I don't worry much about having the bag cut open with a knife. I wonder whether stories like that are urban legends--you'd have to steady the bag firmly in order to do it, and if a thief had a sharp enough knife to do the job, why wouldn't the thief simply threaten the victim and take the bag that way?

It isn't an urban legend. I don't remember if it was the news or the local authorities, but someone once set a camera on a very busy market in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where a lot of pickpocketing occurred on a regular basis. They caught many thieves doing exactly that - cutting open a bag and pulling out a wallet or other valuable without the person noticing it.

Having a sharp enough knife doesn't mean the thief is willing to confront someone directly. Besides, pickpocketing carry much lesser penalties than robbing someone with a weapon... thieves know that too.

thorn
06-11-2009, 12:49 PM
Can the bag just be lined with chainmail? But seriously, just line the bottom with chainmail? The knife would cut absolutely nothing on the bottom of the bag and from what I'm reading, I'm guessing it is too much trouble to cut the side of the bag. The do have really pretty colors for the aluminum chainmail nowadays, and aluminum is a lighter metal.

maverick
06-11-2009, 01:42 PM
- I've been mugged, at gunpoint, in Philadelphia, but a couple of thugs who weren't into the brotherly love thing.

hi timothy,

i'm sorry to that you went through that traumatic experience.

where in philadelphia did this happen?

falconea
06-11-2009, 03:22 PM
My grandmother had a heavy solid leather hand bag (purse) slashed in the tram in Hong Kong some years ago. It's the sort of bag shaped approximately like the Kit, about 16 inches long, with 2 handles. She carried it over her shoulder, the bag rammed into her armpit and her arm protectively covering the bag. When she tried to get her coin wallet out to pay the tram fare she couldn't find it but it wasn't until we got back to our hotel that night that we saw the very neat vertical slit from top to bottom in one end of the bag. (Look at the Crimson Kit picture - the cut went from the end of the zipper pull right to the bottom.) Fortunately nothing else was missing. The bag itself was so sturdy that nothing fell out for the rest of the day.

It happens.

I now sew special secret, difficult to access pockets into my trousers for my passport and credit cards, and have a small wallet in a pocket with one (invalid) credit card and a bit of cash for the pickpockets to have. I've given up on carrying a purse completely.

Audrey

timothy
06-11-2009, 03:50 PM
Maverick:

When I got mugged, it was in North Philly, by the Frankfort end of the blue line; it was within a few hundred feet of the place I was renting a room when I started law school. The funny thing is, lousy as it was to get mugged, I moved out for what I think were reasons even more compelling from that place -- terrible, live-in landlady made hell the lives of various tenants, so I ended up in graduate housing instead. Much, much better, and in (relatively safe, pleasant, interesting) Chinatown.

timothy

maverick
06-11-2009, 06:20 PM
Maverick:

When I got mugged, it was in North Philly, by the Frankfort end of the blue line; it was within a few hundred feet of the place I was renting a room when I started law school. The funny thing is, lousy as it was to get mugged, I moved out for what I think were reasons even more compelling from that place -- terrible, live-in landlady made hell the lives of various tenants, so I ended up in graduate housing instead. Much, much better, and in (relatively safe, pleasant, interesting) Chinatown.

timothy

hi timothy,

i'm glad you escaped unharmed and moved to a safer location!

tuesday evening, i walked from the center city area near city hall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_City_Hall) to chinatown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinatown,_Philadelphia,_Pennsylvania) to have dinner at singapore vegetarian restaurant (http://www.happycow.net/reviews.php?id=2473) on race street. i felt fairly safe walking down there. afterwards, i walked further up race to 8th street. i was thinking that i could walk down to independence hall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall_(United_States)), but it was getting dark and i thought it best to get back to my hotel.

i saw the chinatown train station, which was deserted. there was no one at the entrance, and one woman down at the track. i got on an express going to fern rock (http://septa.org/service/sched/maps/BSL.pdf) (i didn't realize this at the time). i needed to get to the race-vine stop to get to my hotel.

the driver was very nice and friendly. because the train station wasn't staffed at entry, i needed to buy a ticket from the driver. the ticket was $2, and the smallest i had was $5. the driver didn't have change and told me to get on.

the train stopped at fairmount, and then at girard. i actually could have gotten off at fairmount and walked, but i was still figuring out where i was going. after girard, the next stop was north philadelphia because this was an express. i got off at north philadelphia because i had figured out the train was going in the direction opposite of where i wanted to go. the driver could tell i looked lost. he asked me where i was going, and i told him i needed to get on the race-vine stop. he told me i need the train going in the other direction and that it comes on the other platform. i thanked him and started up the stairs. as i went up the stairs, i heard the train coming from the other side. so i ran and the driver waited as he saw me coming. i confirmed that he was going to race-vine and boarded the train.

that was as close as i came to north philadelphia :)

eastercat
06-11-2009, 08:19 PM
When I travel, I carry the bulk of my money, my passport, travel docs, etc. in a money belt that goes under my clothing. Because my travel pants have secret pockets, I'm able to put my credit cards there for easy access.
I put about $20 (or the equivalent in whatever country I'm in) in the purse, so I can purchase small items without having to dig into the money belt. At restaurants, I excuse myself to go to the restroom and pull out the needed money.
My travel purse is made out of recycled tires. If a thief's knife can cut through that, s/he deserves whatever money is in my purse. :) The worrying aspect of my purse is the strap. It's made out of a thin, cordura like material. If I could, I'd replace it with something more useful.
Pickpockets are everywhere, including one's hometown. Fortunately, my regular purse is made out of recycled tires and has a wood bottom. Also the strap is made out of washing machine tubing.
Onebag.com (http://onebag.com) has some useful information on the benefits of the money belt in comparison to other methods of carrying one's money.

peregrina
06-12-2009, 06:04 AM
I confess I've only ever used a moneybelt once and don't take special precautions when I travel other than leave at home all the cards, ids, and other stuff I don't need to carry in my wallet. But then I grew up in Brazil where I have learned to watch out for pickpockets and the like.

as for pickpockets with sharp knives... can't worry too much about it. I just make sure I always have my bag in front of my body.

peregrina
06-12-2009, 06:12 AM
have a small wallet in a pocket with one (invalid) credit card and a bit of cash for the pickpockets to have.

That's a good idea. I usually keep my credit cards separate from my cash and always have a bit of cash in a pocket in case I'm confronted by someone. I'm not afraid of pickpockets but I often think of what to do if someone actually confronted me. So I keep a small wallet with cash that I can give pretending it's all I have...

I've only ever been robbed once and as far as robberies go, it was a good one since they pulled out my wallet and went through it, pulling out and throwing on the ground all the credit cards, IDs and the like and taking only the cash. So we didn't lose much and there was no hassle afterward. Oh, and they did check to see if we had a moneybelt

bluedenim
06-12-2009, 08:25 AM
I must admit I don't use a moneybelt. I find them akward and not very comfortable. I keep saying I am going to give it another try but don't. I ussualyl use a wallet with a chain attached and I push the chain down into my pocket. Not sure how safe it is but it gives me a bit of a sense of security. I never carry my passport with me only copies, I leave them in the room.

I do like the idea of using a fake wallet though...but if they see my chain its a given. so I would have to switch to using another method if I was going to do that.

Security is always a hard one with many different thoughts.

stan01
06-12-2009, 05:47 PM
Deep front pockets and a thin wallet do the trick for me. I can put my hands in my pocket in a crowd if needed. I figure anyone interested will move on to an easier target. Plus a money belt would be conspicuous on me since I have a smaller build.

Just
06-22-2009, 07:39 AM
Plus a money belt would be conspicuous on me since I have a smaller build.

YES!! This is EXACTLY my thing with money belts. I love the idea, and they work for other people (example: my mother), but they are SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE and VISIBLE on me (things will poke me when I sit down, and/or bulge out, even when I'm not sitting.. talking about even only my passport, not even going into credit cards, money, etc.. I've tried moving it around on my waist, with even worse results)

Thankfully (?), I've yet to travel to a country where I would be too obviously a tourist (this presents its own problems when they take you for a local, but you only know the language up to a 1st-2nd grader's level)... so I usually copy what I see the locals do (which in the east Asian countries seems to be to not care, and just stick the wallet in your backpack/handbag/back pants pocket)

Of course I split up all my essentials between at least three different locations, so that if the others are gone/compromised, I can still get home/get help/continue traveling with the essentials contained in the remaining location.

Sure, you can get mugged when you're not traveling too, but it's usually much more of an inconvenience when you're abroad.


Security is always a hard one with many different thoughts.

I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes being too secure makes you more of a target!!!

aiethabell
06-22-2009, 08:13 PM
I'm kinda sold on moneybelts. On my first trip to Europe in the 70's I had the misfortune to be traveling with someone who fell victim to the 'Italian scooter-thief' on our second day in Rome. The shoulder strap on her purse didn't break, so she was dragged into the street, and it was a major hassle to replace her passport... she quit laughing at my moneybelt somewhere between the police station, the clinic and the Embassy. I've even used a moneybelt at home in Seattle - usually for big events like the hydro races, or parades, or other places with lots of people and lots of jostling.

But they can be hot, even the silk ones. For some people, they do show up no matter what. There is another option. Go to www.saf-t-pockets.com and look at their patterns. They don't make men's patterns, but you could use the same philosophy and adapt travel clothes you already have. Don't sew? They have a list of dressmakers willing to sew your items for you.

Don't like their styles? Orvis and Norm Thompson (among others, like TravelSmith) have clothing specifically made with hidden pockets for items you don't want seen but don't want to be parted from. They may be expensive, but so's replacing a passport, if not in money than in wasted time. Wouldn't you rather be taking in the sights or working? It sure beats calling all your credit card companies to get new cards, too.

Or, there's always the Rick Steves approach. All his bags have o-rings in the bottom (backpacks, day bags, suitcases, etc.) to attach his small black document bag to. It's wide enough to hold a passport, long enough for a railpass, made of thin nylon so it's not heavy, and clips onto any ring you can find. It's wider than the Pen/pencil Pouch and much longer than the Passport Pouch - almost double - and zips down the length of the pouch instead of only across the top. In a black-lined bag, it's almost invisible. It's one more layer of fabric for a slice-and-grab to go through, and many won't take the time to cut twice.

Diehard Tom Bihn user? There are the Pouches, but they won't be as invisible. On the colored Cordura, unfortunately, the black zipper and edging on the Pouches stands out no matter what lining is in the main bag. Same for the Solar or Steel Dyneema. In a Steel-lined bag, you can still easily see the Steel Pouches if the bag is opened.

Frank II
06-23-2009, 04:28 AM
I love these discussions about moneybelts because people think there is only one kind of moneybelt...and that's it.

I always wear a moneybelt when I travel. But I gave up on the one you wear around your waist years ago....decades ago.

I now use one known as a "hidden pocket." This type is perfect for those of us who wear belts. The hidden pocket has a loop your belt goes through and then it is hangs down from the belt inside your pants leg. It is so comfortable, I hardly feel it's there.(For those who don't wear belts, it can be attached to the inside of your pants leg with a safety pin. Just use the pin instead of a belt.)

Other types of moneybelts are the type you wear around your neck and one that you wear around your leg. There's even a new sock that has a zipper pocket large enough for a passport and cash.

All of these, of course, are meant to be worn UNDER your clothes and only accessed in private.

ozone
06-23-2009, 09:43 PM
I now use one known as a "hidden pocket." This type is perfect for those of us who wear belts. The hidden pocket has a loop your belt goes through and then it is hangs down from the belt inside your pants leg. It is so comfortable, I hardly feel it's there.


As the starter of this thread, it's been fascinating to see this discussion go around and come back.

The above money belt is the one I use as well, and I use that for my passport, emergency funds, and a credit card or two.

I started this thread about PacSafe products because I was thinking of other items: prescription sunglasses, small camera, semi-valuable things - items that you could stand to lose, but really rather not.

Frank II
06-24-2009, 02:35 AM
While I had originally planned to order a medium cafe bag (as seen in my posting earlier this month in this thread), I have since been able to check out the Pacsafe Metrosafe 200. It's about the same size as a medium cafe bag but offers some protection not found on the TB bag. I really liked it.

I was able to get one online for $50 including shipping and it should be here tomorrow.

ozone
06-25-2009, 11:01 AM
I have since been able to check out the Pacsafe Metrosafe 200. It's about the same size as a medium cafe bag but offers some protection not found on the TB bag. I really liked it. I was able to get one online for $50 including shipping and it should be here tomorrow.

Very cool! Please... do share what you think about it, and whether it would be a worthy consideration to all of us bag obsessed types! :)