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Stacey Leasca
August 05, 2017

So you’ve packed your bags for your upcoming travels and even brought along some valuables like your electronics and a few jewels. Not to worry: You have your trusty luggage lock, which should keep your stuff safe, right?

According to experts, you may want to think twice about your travel safety precautions.

As several blogs noted, including Techlicious, the Washington Post made the fatal error of publishing a photo of the TSA’s master keys in 2014. The photo gave would-be thieves around the world all the information they’d need to 3D print their own copies, thus giving them the power to unlock any and all TSA-approved travel luggage locks ever made.

Ars Technica even tested out the 3D-printed version of the keys and were able to print, use, and break into a locked bag with ease.

However, even without all this fancy tech, the locks do little to actually protect your luggage. In fact, any motivated thief can rip open your bag without breaking the lock and without leaving a single trace behind. All they need is a simple ballpoint pen.

As WonderHowTo explained, all a thief has to do is simply move your luggage locks to the side of a bag, insert a pen tip along the seam of the zipper, break the seam apart and open your bag. Once they are done rummaging through your things, they can then reseal the bag by bringing the zipper back around, at which point the zipper will self-heal, and you’ll be none the wiser (until you realize all your stuff is missing).

So how can you really protect your stuff while traveling? As the video shows, if you seriously need to carry expensive gear, you may want to invest in a hard case and use your own high-security locks. But be warned: When using your own locks you must wait for your bags to go through the scanner at check-in before you can leave them, so make sure to give yourself ample time at the airport. (Or you could always carry your valuables on the plane with you, which is all-around a safer bet.)

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