Bag tag sabotage

Luggage carousel

For various reasons, my luggage is hard to steal from. I take hundreds of flights every year, and so far, thank goodness, nothing has gone missing permanently. It’s no secret that there’s a problem with some airline and TSA employees stealing from luggage. It occurred to me that those thieves might sabotage the tags on luggage they’ve stolen from, in order to make the bag “disappear,” rather than to be traced to their handling of it.

Thieves who steal luggage off the carousels are another matter. These have flourished since 9/11, when “security” was taken from the baggage claim area in order to focus on security at the gates.
Currently, there’s a bag theft epidemic at Atlanta Airport carousel.)
My new “bag tag sabotage” theory is based on these facts:

1. A huge number of suitcases go missing in the airline system;

2. I take hundreds of flights (every year for the past 16), yet my bags have never disappeared;

3. My bags are harder than most to steal from;

Therefore, I’m proposing that much of the “lost luggage” has been ransacked, then deliberately made lost.

What do you think?

© Copyright 2008-2012 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.

Other posts you may like:

I hunt thieves. I film them, interview them, write about them, and teach how to avoid them.

9 Comments

  • October 8, 2012

    Terry

    I left a comment, got a database error….. let’s see if this one works.

  • October 8, 2012

    Terry

    My earlier comment was along the lines of…..

    Ha, nice idea & probably so obvious / easy to a baggage handler that I expect you’re right.

    Hard to test, given that the bag is “lost”. One idea: put GPS tracking hardware in the bag (concealed in some way, or just non-obvious) along with irresistible goodies for thieves. But you’d need a decent sample size to statistically prove anything.

  • October 8, 2012

    Bar

    I think this is a good theory. It explains why my luggage has never been lost: I never leave anything valuable in checked luggage. Valuable items all go on the plane with me. Nonetheless, sometimes, when I open my checked luggage (and I’ve heard this from a friend of mine, too), the contents are totally disarrayed – not as if it has been tossed around, but as if somebody really went through it and then sloppily repacked it, all out of order. I’m a careful packer, and so is my friend, and there’s no way it would come out like that without some help.

  • October 8, 2012

    Bambi Vincent

    One simple thing that will always cause “security” to open and rifle a checked bag is a stack of magazines—even a short stack. The coated paper scans like a solid block. So agents open the bag, confirm the obvious, then allow their curiosity to run rampant. TSA is required to leave its calling card, but tend to “run out.”

  • October 11, 2012

    Dominique

    Baggage theft by airport employees is also pretty bad in France and getting worse. Here is a few articles if you read French:

    http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2011/03/03/97001-20110303FILWWW00698-vols-de-bagages-a-orly-interpellations.php
    http://www.air-journal.fr/2011-02-08-une-nouvelle-affaire-de-bagagistes-voleurs-eclate-a-roissy-525015.html
    http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2008/10/02/01016-20081002ARTFIG00016-les-vols-de-bagages-se-multiplient-a-roissy-.php

    Often, screeners work in concert with the guys putting the bags in the airplanes, calling them to describe interesting bags.

  • October 12, 2012

    Bambi Vincent

    Dominique, how do you know about screeners colluding with baggage handlers? Just something you read?

  • October 12, 2012

    Dominique

    It was mentioned on TV :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z_lw0ibC2U ( between 1:10 and 1:20)

    They also basically say that France is by far the worse in Europe. One of the articles I linked also mentions union representatives colluding with the thiefs.

  • October 13, 2012

    Dominique

    Once, coming back from the US, I unpacked wiithout noting anything special and found a TSA note at the bottom of my bag. I have heard horror stories, but sometimes they pack your bag like they found it.

  • October 13, 2012

    Rick

    I think you’re right. I’ve explored a bit through your links and the situation is inexcusable.

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