YOU may ask yourself the question: ‘Why do I need to lock my suitcase?’ It’s not such a daft question as you might think. But there is more than one obvious answer. Yes, to deter thieves from breaking into your case, but also from preventing your luggage from opening up in an accident. Some suitcases have built-in locks, but for others you will need a strong padlock to keep your suitcase secure.
Padlocks usually come with combination numbers, which start as 000 and then you reset them to the number you want. If you are going to buy a padlock then it is usually recommended that you get a TSA (Transport Security Administration) Combination Lock, which can be opened by security staff at airports with a master key. If it is opened, you will probably know, as some locks have a red alert indicator at the top which will pop up. You can reset it to green using a sharp object like a pen.
Lock with four numbers could be the answer
You can get locks with three numbers, or ones with four. You will probably guess that the four digit ones are more secure. A four-number lock will give you at least 10,000 combinations. However, don’t despair if you forget your number, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that can show you how to unlock your case.
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Hard shell suitcases are more secure as they are made from a hard plastic called polycarbonate or ABS. A soft shell suitcase even made from high-quality materials can be ripped open, making padlocks redundant.
A determined thief may already have the master key that they have at airports, and many people can work out the combination just by touch and feel. There are locks where there is no combination but just a key. The only problem with those is that there are so few of them, that most criminals have copies of those keys. There is also the additional problem that if they can’t open the lock they can tamper with the zip.
Number of alternatives to padlocks may hold the key
There are alternatives to padlocks. One example is a key card lock. They are a bit cumbersome, but they do the trick. Their only drawback is that if you lose your card, the only way to get at your suitcase is to break it open.
There is also another device called a tile tag which you can put on your suitcase. Once you have downloaded the app, using Bluetooth, you can track it, though it does have its limitations, a few hundred feet. These tags can be put on mobile phones, keys and other things.
Weatherproof locks could be more long-lasting
If you want your padlocks to be long-lasting you might consider getting a weatherproof lock. There are two types: the standard lock which is for normal outdoor use and is made from materials that are 100 per cent rust proof. They contain non-corrosive mechanisms that protect the body of the lock as they are made from hardened steel. Another alternative is the marine grade padlock made from stainless steel which is not as secure.
Little things that may make the difference
To sum things up, it’s always good to have a padlock, even if it is just for appearances sake. If there is a padlock, it may take a criminal a few minutes to open your case, but those few minutes might be vital in catching the culprit. Another good thing to do is to put lots of stickers on your suitcase, so that it is distinguishable from others, so that nobody can pretend to pick up your suitcase by mistake. If you have anything valuable in your suitcase like a camera or computer, best have it with you in hand luggage.
Finding the right combination
If you do put something in your suitcase, make sure it is replaceable. Some people take advantage of the plastic wrap machines to help protect their luggage from getting damaged, bursting open if it is overloaded, and more crucially from being tampered with by thieves. If all else fails, it doesn’t hurt to have travel insurance in case things go missing.
If you have had any experiences with padlocks or any luggage locks, it would be interesting to get some feedback. Your stories and anecdotes might help others in their travels. Look forward to hearing from you.