Baggage carousels are frequently not guarded, so there's nothing to stop anyone from walking up to the carousel and helping themselves to bags that do not belong to them. Since you're separated from your checked bags for most of the trip, it's a good idea to do whatever you can to protect them while they are out of your sight:
- Thieves go for bags that look like everyone else's, so make your bags as conspicuous as possible. Choose eyecatching colors or decorate your bags with colorful straps or stick-on items. The more noticeable your luggage is, the better.
- Thieves are attracted by luggage that looks expensive. Inexpensive luggage has a better chance of being overlooked.
- Cable ties are plastic strips used to join cables together, and are also used as disposable handcuffs. They do an excellent job of locking your suitcase without a key. TSA security people can easily cut them without destroying your lock. They will also deter any thief who doesn't have a pair of scissors handy.
- If possible, use hard-sided luggage, rather than cloth. Being harder to break into, it discourages thieves.
- Your checked luggage should contain only items that are easily replaced or those you are willing to live without. Keep anything you don't want to lose in your carry-on luggage, and keep valuables directly on your person.
- Be prepared, in case you lose your luggage, even if it's by accident, rather than theft. By keeping a change of clothes and essential toiletries in your carry-on, you can avoid a great deal of inconvenience.