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treasuresofafrica Nov 1st, 2005 05:17 PM

Warning - Johannesburg airport theft after baggage checked
We were warned that items disappear from checked baggage at Jo'Burg airport. We're very careful to pack cameras, binos and jewelry and anything of value in our carry-on luggage. We use those little red plastic locks or tie wraps on the checked baggage, so we know if it is opened. Bags rarely have been opened in the years we've traveled through Jo'burg airport.

But last week on the return from our stay in South Africa, we checked our baggage in at the South African Airways the last minute the clerk ordered us to place our two small wheeled carry-ons on the scale. We had expected to carry them on board, so they were not secured. We had no chance to secure them before they were carried away to the netherlands of the airport baggage area. We were concerned, but the flight was being called, so there was nothing we could do then.

Upon arrival in Atlanta, the luggage came through all right, except one carry-on came in on a different carrousel. We found that this case had been opened, zipper bags were unzipped and a watch and pair of gold earrings were missing from a small jewelry case (all the rest of the jewelry was costume jewelry which was untouched) They know what they want, and work quickly. No big value, but it is still theft. Fortunately the second carry-on wasn't opened, this one contained a pair of bios and a small digital camera. Next time we'll secure our carry-ons and carry the good stuff in a handbag or tote bag to be sure to keep it with us.

Other than this incident, we had a really great time driving from Jo'Burg to George and Knysna on the coast, then to Cape Town, Cape Peninsular and the wine country. We stayed in five excellant B & B's and met very helpful and interesting people. During all the driving and touring, we never felt the least bit uncomfortable or unsafe. We took precautions and we did find homes and businesses everywhere heavily guarded and locked up tight. Everyone warned us to take care, which we had a very good time.

Roccco Nov 1st, 2005 06:10 PM

Sorry to hear about your loss.

The same thing happened to me last year in Rome. I got stopped as I was boarding the plane and the Alitalia Airline official decided that one of the carry-ons was oversized and it was basically taken right out of my hands to be checked in.

At the time of departure a portable DVD player and a rented satellite phone was inside the subject suitcase but by the time I got the luggage back in London it was history. So, really, this can happen anywhere. Total loss was about $1,500 and because I did not file a police report my travel insurance and the airline denied the claim.

ShayTay Nov 2nd, 2005 01:47 PM

This seems to be a common trick! On our safari to Tanzania last February, one of our travelers had his carry-on duffel taken away at Amsterdam, even though he had flown from the US with it onboard. When we got to Arusha, all the batteries for his digital camera were missing. We know it happened in Amsterdam because you can see the Kili airport personnel opening and unloading the big luggage time or opportunity for pilfering there.

Celia Nov 3rd, 2005 06:55 AM

This same trick was pulled on me (making me check my carryon because it had wheels) in Miami on the way TO South Africa several years ago. When I arrived in SA, the good jewelry was missing. I assume it happened in Miami and not Jo'burg, because of Miami's reputation for baggage pilfering, but I can't be sure.

JanGoss Nov 5th, 2005 05:12 AM

I always throw several of those four-number dial locks in my carry on for this reason. If the airlines insist it be checked in, you can quickly put the locks on it.


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