Although airport theft statistics are difficult to compile, reports are that one out of 100 checked bags is returned to its owner with at least one article stolen from it. If that happens to you on a flight, the two most likely suspects for the pilferage are baggage handlers and airport security staff.
Airport security opens bags, but usually in front of the owner and are monitored by video. Additionally, security people are only concerned with carry-on materials, and not usually involved in checked luggage.
Baggage handlers are not authorized to open checked bags, and are not always in camera view. In both cases of airport workers, at least 99 percent of them do their jobs honestly. However, when news of thefts are revealed, it reflects on all of them.
There are ways to protect valuables in your checked luggage. However, if you believe anything has been stolen from your checked luggage, there are steps you can take to report it.
1. When you pack, make a list of everything in bags you will check, including serial numbers of electronic gear and sales records of jewelry and other valuable items.
2. If, after you reach your destination, and believe something was stolen from your checked bag, make sure first you didn’t forget to pack it. Before you report it, call home and verify what you believe is missing.
3. When you’re certain something is missing, report it immediately to airline authorities. Do it at the airport desk, or if you’ve already arrived at your destination, by Email to the website or call the airline’s passenger support number.
4. In addition to reporting a missing item from your checked bag to the airline, you should report it also to the Transportation Security Agency. Do that only if you find an official note inside your bag that indicates your bag was opened and inspected at any time by a TSA representative.
5. Act quickly, because there’s always a time limit for reporting stolen items from your checked bag. In most cases, it must by within 48 hours of arriving at the flight’s destination.
5. There’s also a what-if factor involved in checking bags that contain valuable materials. Not only does checking add from $50 to $100 extra cost per round trip by many airlines. There’s also the wait and crowding at the baggage carousels after the flight, as well as the possibility that your bags are on wrong flights or lost.
6. Do you really need to check the really valuable stuff? Consider avoiding the problems by keeping them with you when you fly, either within carry-on baggage, large purse, knapsack or in zippered coat pockets.
If you believe something has been stolen from your checked luggage, report it to the appropriate authorities as quickly as possible. A way to avoid the trouble is to take only carry-on bags when you fly.