The short answer is... it's complicated.
As a manufacturer of anti-theft travel bags and luggage, we could suggest that these bags are bulletproof, theft-proof and flat out indestructible. But they're not.
There are a number of compelling benefits to owning anti-theft luggage - some of which we will cover in this article. However, the reality is that preventing theft altogether is an impossibility.
It's important to know the facts though...
In Australia alone about 2,000 out of every 100,000 people will become the victim of theft. On top of that, there are more than 400,000 incidents of pickpocketing around the world every day!
Thieves are organised. They work in teams, with well-designed plans and years and years of experience in stealing people's prized possessions.
Anti-theft bags certainly won't eradicate these crime syndicates, but they CAN help you prevent theft while on the go. And most importantly keep your precious memories and belongings safe in your bag.
Let's take a look at some ways that anti-theft bags actually do contribute to theft protection.
1. Slash-Resistant Material
One of the most impressive attributes of an anti-theft bag or purse is the material it is made of.
A good anti-theft bag will be made of military-grade, extremely slash-resistant material that makes it nearly impossible for a thief to rip open quickly with a knife.
That's because the best slash-resistant bags are reinforced with a material made from UHMWPE (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) and other technical fibres that are tightly woven together on a high speed knitting machine. The fabric that is the outcome of this process is rated at the highest cut rating possible - a Level 5.
When you are shopping for an anti-theft bag, check that it is made from this type of material. The alternative is something called Kevlar. Kevlar usually only has a cut-resistant level of 2 and can also be weakened when exposed to direct sunlight.
Some manufacturers typically use a lightweight steel mesh for reinforcement, which doesn't quite have the same coverage as a strong-material alternative. Not to mention it could damage your belongings or skin if exposed from the bag.
2. RFID-Blocking Technology
The best anti-theft bags come with RFID-blocking technology.
RFID stands for "radio frequency identification" and refers to the chips on your credit cards and other cards that have sensitive personal information on them.
Hackers and thieves pick up these frequencies with special equipment in a global travel scam known as "RFID skimming." They can then use your personal information to make purchases you did not verify, or even worse steal your identity.
But if your anti-theft bag is equipped with RFID-blocking technology, which many are, then you have a better chance of keeping those radio frequencies away and keeping your credit cards and personal information as safe as they can be.
Most anti-theft bags come with with an added layer of protection - in the form of RFID-blocking material. Again, this is an attribute you'll need to confirm on the label before buying the bag.
3. Cut-Resistant Shoulder Straps
A great anti-theft bag should have a strap that cannot be cut or slashed with ease, because thieves will often try to simply cut the strap of your bag and disappear with the entire bag in a public area.
Many anti-theft bags come with a strengthened strap built using a cable construction.
What's inside that strap that makes it so tough? The strap is inlaid with a lightweight flexible steel cable, which make it impossible to cut quickly. They are designed to withstand slashing and yet be comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time.
The good news is that if a thief tries to tug on your shoulder strap and doesn't get anywhere quickly, he or she will most likely move on.
4. Hidden Compartments
Your anti-theft bag should be equipped with hidden compartments that make it difficult for a thief to tamper with your bag quickly. These hidden compartments are often found behind layers of fabric within the bag.
Hidden compartments allow you to organise your items - from credit cards to medications - in specific areas. This lessens confusion and the amount of time your bag will be left open and vulnerable to attack, as well as keeping your most important possessions in harder-to-find places.
5. Locking Clips
The outside of your bag should be equipped with several sturdy locking clips.
These specialty clips join the zippered pull tags together. It takes a little extra effort to lock your zipper tags after you've pulled an item out of the pockets, but it's a measure worth taking to help ensure a thief cannot easily open your zippered pocket and retrieve your valuables.
Ready to Buy Your New Anti-Theft Bag?
Remember, you can't plan for every mishap you might encounter while you are on a trip abroad. But what you can do is prepare for the what-ifs.
By far, one of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in at least one anti-theft bag for your global travels. Not only is this smart, but it's a fairly economical choice for the peace of mind you get back.
It's important to note that not all anti-theft bags are created equal. For example, anti-theft bags made from steel mesh don't provide the same coverage of vulnerable areas as bags made from ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fabric.
This new fabric is also soft and flexible, so it doesn't detract from the look and style of your bag.
As you plan for your next global trip, consider these five reasons for using anti-theft bags to keep your belongings safe and help you focus on the adventure ahead.