Are suitcase locks worth it?

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ThankYouJack
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Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by ThankYouJack »

I'm thinking about getting some for someone as a gift. Are they worth it and any recommendations?
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rob
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by rob »

I don't see the point... Chances are they will get cut due to some pretend security (even tsa approved versions)..... Either way, a cheap suit case is easy to get into with a lock anyway.... google how to open zips :oops:
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tomd37
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by tomd37 »

Assuming you mean suitcase locks for luggage when traveling on airplanes, I think they are worth it. Keeps nosey people out to some extent. I have used them for about the past twenty years when I travel by air. If you purchase them be sure to get a brand that is approved by the TSA. Those can be opened, without cutting them off, by baggage inspectors when required. About a month ago we took an air trip to Savannah, Georgia and on the flight home out of Savannah the TSA inspectors opened our checked baggage for inspection. They left a pre-printed notice inside the bag that it had been opened and inspected by them. That was the first time that I was made aware of any inspection of my checked baggage. We bought our locks at the local AAA office.
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Mudpuppy
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Mudpuppy »

Suitcase locks won't keep determined people out, but it does prevent some accidental openings by keeping the two zipper pulls together. And it also deters the casual snoop / thief (e.g. ones looking for an opportunity to get "low-hanging fruit").

Personally, I use locks for checked baggage just to keep the zipper pulls together as it gets tossed about. And it's another distinguishing feature for picking out the bag at baggage claim that is less likely to get accidentally removed (unlike colored ribbons). I use bright colored luggage tags and locks to pick my luggage out from the rest.
livesoft
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by livesoft »

I've never locked my checked luggage in over 35 years of travelling. I don't pack anything valuable. I leave the notices "we've looked inside here" in my luggage and make sure to pack them on top for the next time I travel to surprise the inspectors.
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krannerd
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by krannerd »

I do not have suitcase locks. One time, years ago, someone opened my bag after it was checked and put on someone else's lock by mistake.

I carry on anything of value...let the baggage thieves have my dirty clothes...on the rare occasion that I check a bag.

In seriousness...a slightly determined thief will not be deterred by a lock...and probably has a copy of the TSA key already.
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Ged
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Ged »

Not in my experience. The TSA will often cut the locks off, even if they are TSA approved.
DonM17
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by DonM17 »

Locking a zipper type suitcase won't keep anyone from checking out its contents - all that you need is a ball point pen...check out this video link to see how it is done plus there is a tip on the type of suitcase that can be used to prevent someone from breaking into it

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you ... 73FAC50774
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packet
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by packet »

The one and only time I've ever had a lock on luggage (air travel), I was paged to open it within x minutes before it got cut... :/
The only reason the lock was on was because it came with the luggage.

Whatever, someone wants to sniff my undees... I don't care.

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dolphintraveler
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by dolphintraveler »

I have found them useful for travel backpacks, particularly on crowded trains, metros and busses in certain countries. It helps the casual thief move on to the next target. Also locking the bag to the rack or seat when asleep. As for air travel, we've had the TSA open it using the special key and leave the note and re-lock it. That's not why we have them though, it's really the easy grab and go in crowded situations. Also it feels better to leave items in the hotel room (or dorm!) when staying in places that don't have safes. Depends on your style of travel. And of course, when I used it most extensively and felt most protected, it was before youtube (and the video's on how to break into a locked suitcase).
adamthesmythe
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by adamthesmythe »

Never use them...never pack (in checked bags) anything I can't afford to lose.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by ThankYouJack »

Wow, that's amazing simple to by pass the locks. Didn't think of that. The locks could even make your bag more of a target. Thanks for the feedback - Glad I asked.
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William Million
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by William Million »

Never underestimate redundancy in security. Locks add a tiny bit more security, so why not? However, valuables should be in carry-on in any event.

Idea that locks attract thieves is a bit of a reach, I think.
GoldenFinch
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by GoldenFinch »

One potential problem with suitcase locks is that there is always the possibility that something will go wrong and you will be locked out of your own suitcase when traveling. Not fun.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Mudpuppy »

GoldenFinch wrote:One potential problem with suitcase locks is that there is always the possibility that something will go wrong and you will be locked out of your own suitcase when traveling. Not fun.
As pointed out above, it's relatively simple to overcome suitcase locks should you lose the keys. Rather than thinking of suitcase locks as something to stop determined thieves, just think of them as something to keep your suitcase closed while in transit. You could get the same from tying the zippers together with ribbons really, except ribbons can get caught in conveyor belts or the like if too long.
Laundry_Service
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Laundry_Service »

Zip ties are a pretty good substitute. People in my industry fly with a LOT of bags and cases with some extremely expensive equipment. It prevents accidental openings and they will typically leave spares in the bag/case so when TSA opens them they can at least consider securing the item again. The zip ties can be easily removed with a nail clipper.
Yooper
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Yooper »

marstaton4 wrote:Zip ties are a pretty good substitute. People in my industry fly with a LOT of bags and cases with some extremely expensive equipment. It prevents accidental openings and they will typically leave spares in the bag/case so when TSA opens them they can at least consider securing the item again. The zip ties can be easily removed with a nail clipper.
Agreed. I hand a few to the TSA agent when they initially check my luggage and ask that they attach them when they're doing - they always do. I too leave a LARGE note inside the suitcase on top of the contents (along with a zip-lock bag of additional zip ties), asking TSA agents if they've had to open the bag enroute if they'd reseal it with the zip ties. And they have. I never pack anything of value, but I'd hate the zippers to pop during travel and scatter everything all over.
skepticalobserver
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by skepticalobserver »

It may be a deterrent. But let's face it, a hammer stands between you and a theft. Absolutely place nothing of value in a suitcase you can't keep your on eye 24/7.

I use a lock at the gym; it's as useful as a scarecrow. Let 'em take my shoes, socks, etc. The valuables stay with me.
cherijoh
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by cherijoh »

tomd37 wrote:Assuming you mean suitcase locks for luggage when traveling on airplanes, I think they are worth it. Keeps nosey people out to some extent. I have used them for about the past twenty years when I travel by air. If you purchase them be sure to get a brand that is approved by the TSA. Those can be opened, without cutting them off, by baggage inspectors when required. About a month ago we took an air trip to Savannah, Georgia and on the flight home out of Savannah the TSA inspectors opened our checked baggage for inspection. They left a pre-printed notice inside the bag that it had been opened and inspected by them. That was the first time that I was made aware of any inspection of my checked baggage. We bought our locks at the local AAA office.
I use TSA-approved luggage locks when I check luggage and on the main compartment of carry-on luggage. It might not keep a determined thief out of the bag, but it does keep your stuff IN the suitcase. I have witnessed some pretty amazing bags (that appeared to have exploded) arrive on the baggage carousel with clothing being dragged along the belt - and quite possibly lost along the way. I have never had a TSA-approved luggage lock cut off of my suitcase, but I have had notices saying that my suitcase had been inspected.

It also helps to have locks if you are staying in a hotel - it can keep from having someone rifle through your bag. (I use the safe in the room for anything valuable).
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dm200
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by dm200 »

I doubt a lock will keep out someone who wants to steal from you, but some kind of added protection from the suitcase popping open could make sense.
111
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by 111 »

Thanks to someone posting a high res photo of the TSA master keys and the existence of 3D printers the TSA approved locks are even more worthless now. https://github.com/Xyl2k/TSA-Travel-Sentry-master-keys
tim1999
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by tim1999 »

I travel with a set of golf clubs in a nylon travel cover/case maybe once a month, and have done so for many years. In the last 10 years there has not been one single occasion on which the TSA did not open the bag to inspect it behind the scenes and leave one of those "we searched your bag" notes. The travel cover has an outer zipper with two pull tabs that come together to close it. If not secured together, these tabs can come apart if the bag is bumped, subject to vibration, etc. I used to secure them together with zip ties. Well on one occasion the TSA opened the bag to search and did not replace the zip tie. Either they did not have any, or they just neglected to do it. The bag apparently came open at some point in transit as the tabs were unsecured. Fortunately the golf clubs did not fall out, but I lost a few dozen golf balls, socks, underwear, and one shoe.

After that I went to Walmart and got TSA locks for some nominal amount, maybe $10 or something and have used them ever since. Probably 40+ flights with no issues using the locks. They have always been replaced and the bag has been searched every time. I have a feeling these will continue to be a good investment going forward, rather than having a TSA guy say "oh crap, we're out of zip ties, good luck."

I'm not worried about theft at all, it's about the bag being secured properly after an inspection out of my sight.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by ThankYouJack »

William Million wrote:Never underestimate redundancy in security. Locks add a tiny bit more security, so why not? However, valuables should be in carry-on in any event.

Idea that locks attract thieves is a bit of a reach, I think.
Did you see the video with the ball point pen? Doesn't seem like the locks add one iota of security.
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CABob
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by CABob »

If you are looking at the lock to keep the suitcase from accidentally opening or to make it obvious that TSA has opened it then it may be worth it.
If you are looking for it to prevent theft then probably not worth it.
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frequentT
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by frequentT »

I give a strong second on zip ties. They are cheap, disposable, and they keep the casual thief out. For TSA searches, they perform a 'tamper evident' function to let you know at a glance that your bag has been searched. If you don't find a TSA form inside your bag, you must perform a thorough search to determine what is missing.

I also agree they are useful on other gear to provide extra security. They also provide quick solutions/fixes to other travel problems. For example if you want to keep chamber maids out of your bags while they are cleaning, pop on a zip tie.

Buy bag/box of assorted zip ties at Home Depot and keep a handful in the bags you use the most.
birdy
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by birdy »

I have traveled all over the world. I use zip ties exclusively on my bags. They keep my zippers from opening in transit. I also know when someone has been in my bag because they cut them. I carry spares (have not been able to have TSA relock them). Gave up locks a long time ago. Zip ties have worked great for me.

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Nummerkins
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Nummerkins »

I have never used luggage locks and never will.

1. They can be cut off
2. Any bag can be opened in a few seconds anyways
3. All of the TSA master keys have been leaked and are available for download and 3D printing by anyone
4. It makes your bag more of a target for searching or thieves

Basically, I don't see a single benefit and prefer to not participate in security theater.

Luggage locks keep honest people honest :)
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by adamthesmythe »

> All of the TSA master keys have been leaked and are available for download and 3D printing by anyone

To me, this is the least persuasive of the reasons not to bother with TSA locks. I think the intersection of the set of people who are thieves and the set of people who can drive a 3D printer are pretty small.
HIinvestor
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by HIinvestor »

We use paper clips or wire to keep zippers together and don't stress when they are lost. None of us bother with any sort of locks, tho perhaps they could be helpful at hostels, trains or other things we don't do. Zip ties need a sharp tool to remove, which can be inconvenient and have to be cut off for you to get into your own stuff. Because of those reasons, they are unattractive to me. When TSA goes thru my stuff (which happens often), they always put in a form, letting us know they inspected.
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Leeraar »

I use TSA-approved combination locks. You don't have to worry about keys.

I travel on a lot of small planes where they will take your carry-on away from you because it will not fit in the overhead bins. I believe the locks are a deterrent against opportunistic pilfering.

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jhfenton
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by jhfenton »

This has been an interesting discussion. I had never considered not using suitcase locks. I almost always check a handgun when I fly, so using a TSA-locked, hard-sided suitcase is mandatory. (Alternatively you can use a locked hard gun case inside a soft suitcase, but I just bought hard suitcases to make it easy.) I know a lot of folks who regularly travel with firearms, and no one I know has ever had anything go missing. (But I still only travel with a a $300 or $500 firearm. I leave the fancy ones at home.)
Alto Astral
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Alto Astral »

Nope. I have not used a suitcase lock in 15 years. Traveled fairly, including internationally.
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by VictoriaF »

HIinvestor wrote:We use paper clips or wire to keep zippers together and don't stress when they are lost. None of us bother with any sort of locks, tho perhaps they could be helpful at hostels, trains or other things we don't do.
I stay at hostels and travel buy air, train and bus. I used to bring a lock for hostel lockers but stopped after I noticed that no one else was using them.

I usually travel with a relatively small bag that qualifies by airlines as a carry-on luggage. On a train, I have no problem leaving my bag on an open shelf above my seat when I go to the restaurant car. On a bus my bag travels in a locked compartment under the seats. I put it there and I pick it up myself.
HIinvestor wrote:Zip ties need a sharp tool to remove, which can be inconvenient and have to be cut off for you to get into your own stuff. Because of those reasons, they are unattractive to me. When TSA goes thru my stuff (which happens often), they always put in a form, letting us know they inspected.
I purchased zip ties for possible use but have not used them yet. This thread has reminded me to try them. As someone wrote earlier, nail clippers should help with cutting a tie.

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standard7
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by standard7 »

I also use zip ties and keep a nail clipper in an outside pocket.

It's a slight deterrent but mostly if it's cut I know that I need to check my bag for something missing before I leave the airport. Honestly though, the airlines will not cover anything of value so don't pack anything in a suitcase that isn't easily replaceable.
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wander
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by wander »

I stopped using lock when a TSA agent told me that they would cut it for whatever reason.
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ladders11
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by ladders11 »

Flying from Mexico the airline put zip ties on mine and everyone else's luggage. Glad they did this and it must be for a reason.

I have a small combination lock but don't always bother to use it.
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Leeraar »

wander wrote:I stopped using lock when a TSA agent told me that they would cut it for whatever reason.
A TSA compliant lock allows them to open it without cutting it off.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luggage_lock

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SmileyFace
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by SmileyFace »

I travel often but don't check bags often. In any case I have never used a lock as I believe that anyone that wants to see your luggage will defeat them and that they raise the chances of TSA doing an inspection.
spectec
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by spectec »

Nothing will stop a determined thief who has a sufficient amount of time to do his work. But a lock (or wire ties) will slow him down and so the opportunistic thief will likely move on to a less challenging target. And as has been stated, aside from discouraging that type of thief, the other important issue is to keep the zipper closed in transit to prevent bag contents from fallling out. So I use TSA locks because it allows them to get into the bag faster and is an incentive for them to put the lock back on when they finish.
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jdb
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by jdb »

Interesting discussion. As a hobbyist gardener I think zip ties are one of modern life's great inventions, use them all the time for plants including tomatoes and orchids and other epiphytes etc., have large supply. Never thought of using for luggage, but great idea. Thanks for suggestions.
madbrain
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by madbrain »

Absolutely not.

True story : my mother once flew from Paris to visit me. She had a very short connection at some airport in Texas, something like 45 minutes only. She had locks on her suitcase, not TSA approved.

She made it onto the plane on time, but her luggage did not. The TSA did not let it come onto the plane. When it came, the lock had of course been picked, and there was a TSA inspection notice inside.

The luggage ended up getting on the next flight from Texas to California. We waited about 4 hours for the luggage at the very chilly SFO airport late at night, and I was only wearing a light t-shirt, as I had not been planning on being there much time at all.

I got sick as a result with a very nasty flu for the following 2 weeks - bedridden.

Fair or not, I always blamed the locks on her suitcase for that. Don't get me started on suitcase locks.

Frankly, I don't see the point at all - if you want the content of the suitcase, just steal the damn suitcase. A lock is not a useful deterrent, and, as the above story shows, can cause delays. As a gift, I would say : only if it's for your worst enemy.
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jhfenton
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by jhfenton »

I just don't understand the aversion to putting (admittedly not very secure) TSA-compliant locks on suitcases. Sure, they wouldn't deter a determined thief, but they might deter a quick snatch-and-grab. And in some cases (e.g. checking a firearm), as I mentioned earlier, they are legally required.

For what it's worth, if you check a firearm, your bag gets an immediate up-front inspection and then bypasses the normal inspection queue. At some airports they search it right in front of you, at others you wait 5 minutes near the ticket counter before they give you the all clear.
ursugardaddy
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by ursugardaddy »

The lock is basically stating "I have something important in here so steal me" plus once they grab the suitcase they will be able to cut the lock at home so it is pointless.

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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by Leeraar »

Wow, is it just me? I often go to places where petty thievery is endemic. They can't take your bag (too big), but they can certainly take items from inside it. In a hotel room I will lock the bag to protect confidential client information. I often check bags with a hotel concierge, and then they may contain my laptop. Having a lock on your suitcase is a simple, cheap line of defense.

By the way, I often check a bag that contains liquid (a bottle of wine) and a bunch of electrical cords (phone charger, extension cord, etc.). I get the TSA notes a lot! I presume they x-ray it and then feel the need to take a closer look.

L.
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wander
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Re: Are suitcase locks worth it?

Post by wander »

Leeraar wrote:A TSA compliant lock allows them to open it without cutting it off.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luggage_lock

L.
I rather use zip tie as other suggested.
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