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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Travelers Can Take Precautions Against Theft

LAS CRUCES -- Having money or other items stolen is a traveler's worst nightmare. But there are ways to reduce the odds of being victimized by thieves when away from home.

The first thing travelers can do is store their valuables in the hotel safe where they're staying, said Susan Wright, consumer education specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Never leave valuables unattended in a room. Most hotels have a secure place to leave valuables. A better strategy is to leave valuables at home in a safe place or in a safe deposit box.

"When traveling, take only what you need along for the trip," Wright suggested. "Don't bring credit cards you won't need. Carry travelers' checks instead of cash. Only bring a small amount of cash, if you will have access to an automated teller machine."

Keep cash and passports in inside coat pockets, money belts, special ankle wallets or shoulder holster wallets where thieves can't reach them, she said. Luggage and gift shops offer a variety of these items.

Men should not carry wallets or other valuables in their back pockets, Wright said. Women should carry purses large enough to hold belongings without bulging. Purses should have zippers that close completely, heavy sides, bottoms that can't be easily cut and sturdy shoulder straps or carrying handles.

"Keep a complete and up-to-date record of serial numbers of airline tickets, drivers' licenses, travelers' checks, credit cards and any large bills or photo copy the items," Wright said. "This will make items easier to identify and replace if they are stolen. All credit card receipts should be kept to check against the future bill."

Label luggage clearly with identification cards inside and outside. Instead of giving the address of an unoccupied home, put a work address on luggage tags, she suggested. Keep suitcases locked and never leave them unattended in airports or hotel lobbies. If possible, lock bags in the trunk of the car.

When driving in a large, busy area, keep car doors locked. Keep items such as purses and cameras out of sight. This will help discourage thieves who wait at stop lights to rob cars at busy intersections, Wright said.

"Never leave keys in an ignition and do not hide them in common places like under the floor mat or in the glove compartment," she said. "You also may want to carry the car registration with you instead of leaving it in the car when you're on vacation."