A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
Pickpockets are getting pretty good these days.
You may find yourself strolling along calmly, without a care in the world, until you reach for your wallet and realize, with horror, that you can’t find it. There are some sneaky and skilled people out there, and you can’t always just “keep an eye out” for people that are masters of their craft.
Great thieves spend years perfecting their art. They know how to properly distract or move in a way that’s impossible to feel or otherwise target just the right person. If they have the chance to lift something that doesn’t belong to them, they will.
Fortunately, there are ways to be ready. There are all kinds of portable security devices to keep you prepared and help you protect your bag. Items like slash-proof bags exist to combat these exact thieves. Pickpockets have been around as long as pockets have, and we have long since learned how to fight against them.
So what’s the best culmination of these travel security measures? What kind of caution can you take to ensure nobody ever steals your bag?
Here’s a checklist of every anti-theft measure your bag can have, from slash-proof bags to solid straps:
A big thing you need to watch out for is thieves that slash bags open. Slash thefts can be two different things.
Sometimes, thieves walk up to someone with an over-the-shoulder purse, cut the strap, and run off with the bag. These thieves are tricky to stop, as you usually can’t grab your bag back in time before they run off at full speed. They’re also carrying a knife, making opposing them potentially dangerous.
Another slash-based theft method is cutting open the bag and grabbing spilled contents. This mode of theft works well on backpacks or generally unattended bags. You can stop this by watching your bag, but realistically, you’re not going to be able to do that. If you’re traveling, you’re probably busy sightseeing and aren’t going to be constantly looking at your bag.
That’s where slash-proof bags come in. To avoid slashing, you need to prepare for different types of slash theft. And a clever use of wires stops thieves dead in their tracks.
A wire running through the strap makes it uncuttable. On top of that, many bags have wire mesh running through their inside. Sometimes this can make the bag a bit heavy, but lightweight wire meshes exist. Either way, these meshes stop a blade pretty quickly, and only the smallest of items have a risk of falling out.
The downside is you’ll still have to replace the bag if it’s slashed (unless you’re okay with walking around with a big hole in your bag). But wires aren’t the only thing slash-proof bags have going for them. That’s where the material comes in.
Another aspect of slash-proof bags is the material used. You don’t just want to stop your stuff from getting spilled or stolen when slashed. It would also be great to prevent slashes from happening in the first place.
The best slash-proof material is nylon, which they usually use. You can also find them with other materials, like canvas or even kevlar. A lot of different materials can make cutting a bit more difficult.
That being said, slash-proof is not pierce-proof, and most of these can be cut through after a knife initially punctures the bag. They make knife attacks more difficult, but they should absolutely be combined with a wire mesh to truly keep your belongings safe. Make sure your slash-proof bags use wires before you buy them.
Another aspect of the material is RFID-blocking technology. This feature sometimes gets advertised as simply “RFID technology,” which is misleading since it has no RFID capabilities. Instead, these bags block RFID scanners.
A thief can potentially use RFID scanners to remotely steal credit card and passport information simply by walking by someone carrying a passport or credit card. Something to keep in mind is that this type of theft is extremely uncommon and hard to pull off, but it’s something many anti-theft manufacturers keep in mind.
RFID-blocking pockets usually have a metal foil lining the inside to block these signals. They’re pretty simple. If your bag doesn’t have this, you can also just get a wallet with RFID-blocking technology.
Next, you need to look at how the bag opens.
Everything outside of zippers is too dangerous. Drawstrings can be easily pulled, buttons can be undone, and you shouldn’t be walking around with a purse that’s open all the time.
Zippers can be unzipped by skillful pickpockets without the owner noticing, but that’s where zipper locks come in. These are often not too complex so that you don’t lose convenience. They usually consist of little clasps that you need to undo, but they make pickpocketing more difficult.
These are much harder to use without alerting the bag owner. It’s all about not being annoyed every time you have to open your bag but still creating an obstacle for thieves. Fortunately, this balance is not too hard to strike, and you can use simple locks on your bags for pretty high security.
On top of that, having high-quality zippers, like YKK zippers, helps out a lot. Any additional difficulty in getting the zippers open does wonders for security. And when they’re on slash-proof bags, you have a real contender against thieves.
Another simple yet important thing to remember is to get a bag that goes over your torso crossbody style. This type is often considered the safest possible bag. Most others can be snatched and stolen with significantly less effort. And, whether or not you carry slash-proof bags, this style is more challenging to slash secretly.
A thief can snatch a handbag if they’re moving fast enough. You’re also going to need to put it down if you ever want to use both hands, which can be very risky.
You don’t need to place down an over-the-shoulder bag, but it has the same problem of being snatchable. After all, you don’t need to pull it off of someone’s whole torso.
A backpack can be cut into or unzipped without the owner noticing. You can take anything small and valuable without the victim feeling a thing. You might be able to wear your backpack in the front, but it’s harder to deal with and can be annoying.
On the other hand, a crossbody bag is close to your body and can’t be easily messed with secretly, giving you more effective slash-proof bags. And make sure you wear it with the bag part facing front, as this makes it harder to steal without you noticing.
Your bag should have multiple secret pockets that are hard for a thief to discover or open.
If you have no slash-proof bags and a thief manages to slash your bag open, they shouldn’t be getting to all of your expensive belongings right away. If there are further compartments inside your bag, it’ll take a couple of slash attempts to get through to the important stuff, making slash-proof bags less vital.
A thief isn’t going to be able to make multiple slash attempts easily, too. Slashing will be hard to pull off without you noticing. Hidden compartments and pockets should overall spell disaster to the average thief and keep them from getting what they want.
The tricky part here is that if you’re carrying a laptop, it’ll probably be in the main compartment due to its size. If you plan to bring a computer, see if you can find a bag with a hidden compartment that’s big enough to accommodate it.
One security measure to keep in mind is to make your bag and your bag’s openings as inconspicuous as possible to reduce your chances of being targeted. That way, you won’t need slash-proof bags at all.
Thieves often look at large crowds of tourists to see whom they can rob. If you can blend into the crowd, it decreases your chances of getting noticed by someone with bad intentions and inadvertently putting your slash-proof bags to the test. Bags with subtle colors or bags that blend into your clothes are better than bright, flashy, patterned bags.
Make sure the zipper or zipper-lock is hard to spot, too. Some bags have zippers hidden behind folds, hidden in the inseam, pressed against the owner, or behind a flap. The truth is, locks are kind of useless sometimes, and if a thief can access a zipper, they might be able to get past the lock. Make sure the zipper is hidden.
If your strap is removable, make sure its buckle is hidden too. If you can easily remove the strap, it doesn’t matter how slash-resistant it is.
Also, make sure to wear your bag in a concealed manner. Hide it under a coat or jacket if you can. If possible, get a small, compact bag that’s harder to spot.
Finally, there are a few benefits that the strap in your bag could have. Of course, slash-proof bags already have reinforced straps, but they might not have these other features.
Try to go for an adjustable strap. You can keep your bag very close to your body by making the strap as short as possible.
Make sure it’s also more than one inch thick. This thickness should provide even more protection against slashing, especially if you can’t get slash-proof bags.
One security feature that many theft-resistant bags have these days are turn-and-lock security hooks. These secure your bag to anything nearby in scenarios where you need to put it down, whether at the gym, an amusement park, or somewhere else.
Of course, ideally, you should never put your bag down. Leaving the bag secured anywhere still opens you up to theft, so be careful about when you use this feature.
But if you think you’re going to be in a situation where you need to put your bag down, getting a bag with this feature is a good idea.
To sew a slash-proof purse, you need to have the proper materials. Nylon, kevlar, or canvas are the usual choice for a slash-resistant bag. Remember that these can often still be cut open with some effort, so you need to be careful about which materials you use. Try testing them out.
A slash-proof travel purse, slash-proof sling bag, or slash-proof fanny pack are bags that are hard for a knife to slash through. These slash-proof bags can often still get cut by initial piercing with a knife, but this is trickier to pull off.
The straps on slash-proof bags usually have steel wires running through them, so when online shopping for a slash-proof purse strap replacement, make sure it has one of these wires. Many handbag retailers sell strap replacements, as do online sellers on websites like eBay and Etsy.
You can’t make a purse that’s purely impossible for a knife to cut through. But if your bag is nylon, kevlar, or canvas, it’ll be more resistant to slash attacks. If you can make a wire mesh for your bag and sew it into the lining, that’ll make it extremely slash-resistant.
You can buy slash-proof travel bags anywhere that you can buy bags. Check if they’re advertised as slash-proof and make sure they use strong material and a wire mesh.
The best way to guarantee that a knife can’t cut through a strap is to have a wire through it. Pick up some armature wire and make a small incision at the bottom. Run the wire through and sew it up to ensure maximum slash resistance.
When picking out a theft-proof bag, you have a few things to consider.
Depending on your budget, you can mix and match several of these features. Very few theft-proof bags have every single one. You can consider which are more crucial to your specific situation. Maybe you need slash-proof bags, bags you can tie down, or bags with adjustable straps.
When it comes down to it, though, much theft resistance is constant vigilance. Even if you have slash-proof bags, keeping them close and looking after them should help your odds significantly.
Regardless, you now know what kind of tricks thieves have up their sleeves and how best to combat them. Stay on alert, and be safe out there!