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  1. #1
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    Making TB bags supersecure

    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.

  2. #2
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    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.)
    Last edited by Frank II; 06-10-2009 at 05:36 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by fbrown627 View Post
    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.
    I love my Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Western Flyer, Cadet 15 Brain Cell, Imago, Medium Cafe Bag (daily bag), Swift, Side Effect and accessories (snake charmer, packing cubes, stuff sacks, pouches, lights, keystraps, etc.) Eagerly awaiting trays and Canine Citizens! Picture to come soon.

  4. #4
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    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

  5. #5
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    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...)
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  6. #6
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    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.

  7. #7
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    many years ago - in the early 1990s, my aunt was shopping in 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.

  8. #8
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    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.

  9. #9
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    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

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
    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.
    In our household: Black/Steel Aeronaut (with 2 large packing cubes and Absolute shoulder strap), Forest/Steel Aeronaut (1 large and 2 small packing cubes), Olive/Wasabi medium Cafe Bag, Linen/Olive Medium Cafe Bag, Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi Imago, Cardinal/Hemp/Steel Imago, Hemp Little Swift, Solar Shop Bag, Plum/Wasabi Side Effect, Black/Steel/Solar Smart Alec, Horizontal and Vertical Freudian Slips, TB Wallet, Hemp Little Swift, FOT pouch, Black/Olive ID

  11. #11
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    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.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by timothy View Post
    - 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?

  13. #13
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    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

  14. #14
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    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

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by timothy View Post
    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 to chinatown to have dinner at singapore vegetarian restaurant 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, 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 (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

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