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How to Get Your Laptop Computer Stolen

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You can live without your laptop computer, PDA, and video iPod, right? Good thing, because it's easy for them to walk away when you're traveling. Here's how you can almost guarantee parting ways with expensive computer equipment while you're on the road:

Leave Valuables in Plain Sight.
The maid doesn't even need to steal it, although that will be the first person you'll think of. Rooms are often left unlocked and open during cleaning times, and anything in plain sight is at risk of walking out the door. Even when the door is locked up tight, leaving everything out in the open makes it easier for thieves.

OR
Keep valuables like electronics, not to mention cash, tickets to sporting events or theme parks, passports, airline tickets and jewelry in the safe. The best safes are the electronic versions that let you set your own passcode. Many overseas hotels have safes with traditional key locks; in those, you may be better off leaving your valuables in the safe deposit box at the front desk.

For those hotel room safes that won't fit a laptop (I've stayed in many), consider investing in a cable lock. Lock your equipment to something immovable, like the pipes under the bathroom sink.

Let Everyone Know You're Leaving for the Day
Turn off the television and all the lights in the room. Hang a "Please Service Room" sign on your door.

OR
Leave the hint or your "presence" by leaving a television on and turning on a few lights or the radio. I've even gone so far as to leave the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Sure, I may have to call to schedule maid service during breakfast or while I'm at dinner. In exchange for that slight inconvenience, I get peace of mind knowing the room will stay locked up while I'm gone.

Pack the Morning You Check Out.
Rushing around to catch a flight pumps up your adrenaline, and gives you plenty of opportunity to leave smaller electronics behind.

OR
Pack the night before, taking special care to pack away electronics. Just leave out a change of clothes and a few toiletries. You won't be rushed in the morning, and you'll have time for a last-minute inspection of the room.

Don't Look Back
You packed everything the first time, right? Or surely your spouse packed everything. No need to waste time checking.

OR
After you've packed everything, take one last look around. Check under the beds, in the bedcovers, on the nightstand, in all the dresser drawers, in the shower, in the closet, and in the safe. This goes double if you travel with kids.

If Something Is Stolen From Your Hotel Room
Chances are you'll want them back -- or at least have them replaced.

  • Immediately call the hotel's manager.
  • If the hotel has electronic room locks, ask for a "lock interrogation." This report will tell the hotel staff exactly who accessed your room, and when.
  • Before you leave the hotel, request an incident report. You may need it for your insurance company if you decide to file a claim later.

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