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October 17, 2017

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5 tips to keep your valuables safe while on vacation

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Lars Leetaru / The New York Times

Limiting what you bring, not being showy and ditching the in-room safe are just a few ways to keep your valuables safe while traveling.

Did you know that you may be more susceptible to having your valuables, such as watches and cellphones, stolen when you’re on vacation? “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,” said Matt Dumpert, a senior director at Kroll, a security consulting company based in New York.

Before he entered the security field, Dumpert had his camera stolen on a trip to Brussels — an episode, he said, that ruined his getaway.

He is now wiser on his travels and shares his tips on how others can protect themselves, too:

Limit What You Bring

Most travelers bring valuables on their trip that they don’t need, like expensive watches and jewelry. If losing an item will cause you significant financial loss, don’t bring it. If a high-value item is a must, however, Dumpert recommended buying a travel insurance policy that covers personal property loss so you can recoup your money in case of a theft.

Don’t Be Flashy

Avoid being outwardly showy, but realize that showiness can be interpreted differently depending on your location. If you’re in London, for example, you won’t be conspicuous if you’re toting the latest cellphone. But in less-privileged countries you’ll be perceived as extremely affluent. “These signs of wealth make you a prime target for crime,” Dumpert said.

Ditch the In-Room Safe

You’re not the only one with access to it. Dumpert says it is quite likely that several hotel employees, including members of the housekeeping and maintenance staff, can open the safe with a master combination. So how do you store your valuables? Many four- and five-star properties have a central safe accessible to only a small number of people, Dumpert said. Guests can’t open the safe themselves, but they can ask that valuables be stored there. “This hotel safe isn’t foolproof,” he said, “but it keeps the property more accountable should anything go missing.”

Avoid Distractions

Criminals choose victims who appear unfamiliar with their surroundings or who are otherwise distracted, Dumpert said. If you don’t know your destination well, stay alert as you walk through the streets, and duck into a coffee shop or store if you need to stop and look at your phone for directions.

Skip Social Media

You may want to share the good time you’re having on your vacation by posting pictures throughout your trip, but Dumpert said that when it came to safeguarding your valuables, this was a bad idea. Savvy criminals, he said, monitor social media and even have the tools to pinpoint your 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.”

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