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Securing my carry-around bag

I looked through the forum and didn't see this, so here goes. I'm taking a sort-of messenger bag with shoulder strap along for carrying things while I'm walking around. I seem to remember there's such things as small cables you can run through a loop on the bag and then to a belt loop to secure the bag against theft or cut-and-run. Do y'all have any recommendations?

Posted by
2265 posts

Are you going to attach this bag your body with these cables?

you seem to have bought into the paranoia of cut and run (which by the way no one has ever actually seen Except those people making a lot of money selling slash proof bags)

But using your plan if someone grabs your bag and it’s cable locked to your body they’re going to drag you into the street and you’re going to get run over. Just put your bag over your shoulder and use some common sense a

Posted by
6378 posts

Nobody is going to try to rip a crossbody bag from your body. You simply are not that prime a target, do not have anything much of value to justify that level of effort.

Someone might pick up a bag you left hanging on back of chair, or on the ground at a cafe, they might try to ease open a zipper on a crowded bus and explore, but tear it from your body...no.

To be honest, over the years, I sat down and questioned why I carry a bag. Yeah back in the days of having a guidebook, a map, a camera...it seemed a good idea, then I could also pack other stuff I convinced myself I needed...but these days, most everything (Guidebook, map, Camera) is on my phone, so I try to head out with just my phone in one pocket, and a credit card and some cash in the other pocket. It has made wandering throughout the day so much more pleasant.

Posted by
7356 posts

That can get you hurt. Consider not carrying anything in your bag that is irreplaceable. It seems to me that bag snatching is more likely to occur when you take your bag off and put it on the table or the ground.

Check into the PacSafe line of bags if you're concerned.

Posted by
8906 posts

Handheld bags are taken that way by thieves on bikes or those running by. A cross body bag does not need to be secured!

Posted by
3579 posts

Yes, here’s my recommendation. Wear a Crossbody bag and that’s it. I do this home in NYC and I do this when I travel.

Posted by
1190 posts

If the real world advice you've received so far doesn't help, and you have some time to obtain a new bag, look at these (REI usually has some in stock):
Pacsafe

Posted by
3654 posts

Wear your bag cross body and keep it towards your front with your hand on it in very crowded situations. That will be safer than cabling it to your body.

Posted by
22266 posts

You are going down the wrong path security wise. I would not under any circumstances solidly attach a bag to your body. First, you should have nothing of value in the bag that is worth being injured. Maybe a camera or cell phone but those are replaceable. You money and extra credit/debit cards should be secured in a money belt under your clothes out of the reach of everyone -- including yourself.

The probability of your bag being cut and run or just being grabbed off your body is very low. It can happen but it is one in a hundred or more. There was a posting here a couple of years ago when some grabbed a shoulder bag and the individual initially refused to let go of the bag. She was knocked down and drug for a short distance resulting in serious injury. If someone wants your bag that bad, let them have it. (That is the only posting that I can remember on this site that had a bag grabbed.)

The greater risk to your bag is that you will put it down on a table or hang it on the back of chair where a short distraction and the bag is done. That is your greatest risk. And, yes, we do carry a small cable lock that we use to lock the bag to the chair IF we are going to be there for a period of time. Pickpockets and thefts like to be sneaky. It is bad for business to attract a lot of attention.

Posted by
7356 posts

Here's my quick and dirty tip when sitting down at a table. Put one of the chair legs through the bag strap. Not foolproof, but discouraging.

Posted by
534 posts

@jlreda; what is it that makes you feel you need to secure your bag against theft by attaching a cable to it? Is it because of the destination you’re traveling to? Are you worried it isn’t safe there? Is it because you’re planning to walk around with all kinds of valuables in your bag? Or is it something else?

Posted by
1879 posts

I too think you’re headed down the wrong path. You have a better chance to be pickpocketed than have your bag ripped off your body. Look at RS travel trips https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/outsmarting-pickpockets

I added clips to my packable backpack and a couple more to my extra small Travelon purse to keep sticky fingers out. Only pickpocket attempt I ran into last month was the petition girl in Paris. Kept walking with a “don’t come near me” attitude so she went on to an easier mark.

Posted by
1092 posts

I use a theft-resistant travel bag by Travelon. I actually do know someone whose bag was cut from its straps without her being aware of it at the time (because she was carrying groceries, too), so it CAN happen, even if it is rare. The thing about losing your bag when you're travelling is that it means you would lose a bunch of time dealing with the loss of documents--time you want to spend touring--and it could even interfere with your plans for travelling home or to the next destination, if, for example, your passport was lost. It's funny that so many people here insist that we must carry our passports with us, because it is the law in some countries, but then others insist that we should carry nothing important in our bags. I don't know about you, but I have found things like moneybelts to be horribly uncomfortable (and my passport tends to get bent in them) and neck or shoulder wallets impractical for everyday use and difficult to conceal under my clothing. So, I prefer to have an anti-theft bag. They aren't 100% secure, of course, but nothing is, really. However, if they make things more difficult for thieves, then it's worth the small investment, IMO. It's one thing to be robbed at home. It's a whole other level of inconvenience to be robbed in another country, and I like to do what I can to avoid that situation.

The one I use has a metal mesh in the body and straps to protect against slashing. There are clips to help keep a couple of the zippers closed and make them more time-consuming to open. And there is a sort of caribiner mechanism on the strap to secure the bag around a chair or table to guard against snatch-and-grab incidents. Of course, I use a cross-body style, too. And, of course, I keep my wits about me, especially in crowded, heavily-touristed areas.

The bag I use is something like this: https://www.travelonbags.com/shop-the-look/crossbody-bags/best-sellers/anti-theft-heritage-hobo/33072.html?dwvar_33072_color=indigo&quantity=1&catid=Heritage-Collection

Posted by
983 posts

I would worry more about someone getting INTO my bag rather than ripping it off my body. Carry your bag so that it is to your front and pockets, zippers, or flaps are turned toward your body. I have several Travelon anti-theft purses - the signature slim pouch in various colors. The first one I bought for security, the rest because I simply love the bag. I like them because they are small and very lightweight and have lots of pockets for organization. I borrowed the idea of a locking zipper and purchased a few lobster claws and metal rings from Michaels to add to some other bags. I rarely take my little bag off when out and about and don't want the hassle of locking it to or around something.

Posted by
6387 posts

You have already received more than enough advice. I'll just thank you for bringing this question to the forum because I am sure more than one person had wondered about this topic. I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
1559 posts

Have one hand on your bag where the zippers are and always carry it facing front. Other than that, I don't take any measures. Can you be pickpocketed? Sure, but they won't rip your bag, only will try to open zipper

Posted by
2181 posts

Get some small carabiners from the Dollar Store, and secure your zips on the bag with those.
It's fiddly to get them on and off when you want something, but is an added layer in case someone tries to unzip your bag.
Do not cable tie anything to yourself!
Totally unnecessary.

Posted by
1296 posts

Carry the bag at the front of your body, with the flap/zipper towards your body, anytime you are in a high risk area for pickpocketing: On public transportation; anytime you are carrying multiple bags (even groceries) and distracted; at the airport; in your hotel lobby as you are checking in and juggling a bunch of luggage; in any crowd/line. I agree with the others NOT to secure the bag to your body. Nothing in that bag, including your passport or phone, is worth being dragged down the road in the VERY VERY tiny chance someone tries to tear your bag off your body.

There are ways to help prevent someone from trying to get into your bag or walk off with your bag. First, don’t carry an expensive bag that is of value in itself. If you’re walking around with a designer bag, you’ve already put a target on yourself. You can attach a big safety pin to the zipper, and use the pin to secure the closed zipper to the fabric of the bag. If your messenger bag doesn’t have a zipper closure, find a different bag. When you are eating, keep the under your feet with the strap under a leg of the chair, don’t put it on the back of the chair.

Posted by
11045 posts

I'd just ask where you are traveling to?

Posted by
2960 posts

There are bags that also come with a small cable, I have one, but never knew what it was for. Certainly, it would work for you. Here's one example, 4th photo down shows it. If it is like mine, it is detachable so adjustable for varying purposes.

I also wouldn't think securing a bag to your belt is 'attaching it to your body' as some above infer. If it makes you feel comfortable, do it. A lot of people against anti-theft bags wear money belts. I don't see the difference.

Posted by
816 posts

Carry a biker or trucker wallet, the ones with a heavy chrome chain that can attach to your belt. Better yet, dress like a biker, à la Hell's Angel. Chances are that the pickpockets will steer clear of you.

Posted by
534 posts

“ I also wouldn't think securing a bag to your belt is 'attaching it to your body' as some above infer. If it makes you feel comfortable, do it. A lot of people against anti-theft bags wear money belts. I don't see the difference.”

Of course a cable attached to a belt doesn’t mean your purse is literally attached to your body, but the effect is the same. If someone tries to steal your purse they don’t gently try to remove your purse, they rip it from your shoulder with great force often from a bike or moped. If the purse is attached to a belt, you will be dragged along with it. Yes, they will let go once they realize the bag is attached to something, but by that time there is a good chance you have already hit the pavement or worse.
A money belt is a completely different thing. You carry a money belt under your clothes thus making it invisible.

It’s a shame the OP hasn’t come back to tell us where they’re traveling to and why they feel they need to secure a cable to a cross body bag. There is a good chance their concerns are unjustified.

Posted by
132 posts

35 years ago, I was with a group of friends in a London tube station in one of those shoulder-to-shoulder, rush-hour crushes of commuters and tourists when one of the women cried out, “my purse is gone!” We figured that the strap of her crossbody bag had been cut and the bag, that had been pushed around to her back in the jostling crowd, had been quickly slipped from her body as the thief disappeared in the melee. So, it’s a thing.

Lots of good advice here about how to secure valuables, being aware of your surroundings and reminders to pull your bag to the front of your body and hang on.

Posted by
5 posts

Hello folks, thanks for the replies and I think we can turn 'em off now. I'll be going to the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands. I've been travelling for over 35 years now with no problems, and this question was more of a "general" type than anything else, coming from a viewpoint of 'cover all bases'. Being a private pilot, I learned early on to "keep your head on a swivel" and that's what I do when travelling. These forums are great-no matter how much one has traveled, there's still lots of things to learn!

Posted by
534 posts

I live in the Netherlands and when I walk on the streets, whether it’s in central Amsterdam or in my home city Breda, I don’t attach a chain to my purse or bag to secure it. And there is no reason why those visiting as a tourist should do this either. Just wear your bag across your body and keep it close to you in busy surroundings.
By far the biggest safety risk for tourists in Amsterdam is getting hit by a bike when you cross the street without looking around you properly. Your head will definitely need to be on a swivel there.

Posted by
2131 posts

Here's my quick and dirty tip when sitting down at a table. Put one of the chair legs through the bag strap. Not foolproof, but discouraging.

I do something similar when I'm grocery shopping. I don't like to carry my bag so I put it in the bottom of the cart and then secure it with the clips from the kids' safety belt.

Posted by
8155 posts

you seem to have bought into the paranoia of cut and run (which by the way no one has ever actually seen Except those people making a lot of money selling slash proof bags)

Well actually a colleague of mine had this happen to her in Barcelona. They broke her collarbone.

Posted by
81 posts

We have never had a problem – passports / credit cards/ most money we wear in a RS money belt

I don’t carry anything irreplaceable in my purse – my phone is my most valuable item in my purse – I always put my purse strap over my head & walk with one hand on it – this trip my purse had a place for my phone & eye glasses on the outside of the bag & I put that part facing on the inside of my body

Posted by
515 posts

If I think I need a bit of added security I wear my cross body bag under my jacket or under an open shirt. Hides the strap.