Travel is a time when many people manage to expose their possessions to potentially risky situations without realizing that they are putting anything in danger, and learn of their mistakes the hard way. You should be aware of the fact that there are people who make a living from robbing tourists, and some of these people can be very diligent, not to mention creative. Hotels are, of course, the perfect place for someone to identify out-of-towners. There are rarely restrictions on access to hotel lobbies, and this is a point of high visibility.
Under no circumstances should you ever flash expensive jewelry in this type of environment. Not only are you visible to anyone who has access to the space, but you’re blatantly obvious to the hotel staff as well, and all it takes is a keen eye on someone with intentions that are other than honorable. Even if you feel that you’ve been discreet, you should always keep in mind the fact that you’re not invisible. Having said that, there are certain precautions that you can take to reduce the possibility of a loss while traveling.
For one, if your hotel provides a room safe, it’s much better than trying to “hide” your jewelry in a suitcase, although it’s far from foolproof, and may not be covered under your insurance policy. No room safe? Most hotels do have safes at the front desk, and on request, they will accept a small parcel for safekeeping. (Check with your insurance company regarding coverage under these conditions.)
I would like to stress the fact that if you have a rented car, this may not be used in lieu of a safe. I recently heard from a couple who had been vacationing in Florida, and since their hotel room did not have a safe, they decided to just take their jewelry with them. When they found that the beach presented a difficult situation as far as keeping an eye on their valuables, they decided to stash their jewelry in the trunk of the car, so they removed what they had been wearing, added it to the small bag they had been carrying, and went back to the car, depositing the bag in the trunk. A short time later, after a nice swim, they returned to the car to find the bag had been stolen, and it didn’t take the police long to figure out that it had surely not been a random crime; the couple had obviously been under surveillance, and the theft fit the “M.O.” of a group who had been operating in that area for several months.
Some of the major car companies offer “Personal Effects Coverage” as an option on their rental agreements. If this is something that you wish to consider, you must read and understand the fine print regarding what, exactly, this coverage applies to, and what the insurance limits are. Do not assume that this will provide unlimited coverage for your jewelry. Typical coverage of this type has very strict limits ($600.00 per person, with an $1800.00 maximum) in addition to all sorts of exclusions, such as if the vehicle is in the possession of a “common carrier,” which could be any of a number of things, such as a ferry, auto/train, etc. Furthermore, if you were to claim a loss under this coverage, it’s possible that this may affect your regular insurance as well. This type of rental agreement option generally costs very little, perhaps an extra $6.00 a day, and is usually combined with personal injury coverage, which again, will have strict limits. Read the fine print. And just in case you would ever entertain the notion of packing your jewelry into your checked luggage when using commercial transportation: Don’t.Don’t even think about it. Pack it with your carry-on gear, or don’t bring it at all.
It’s all well and good for me to advise you to keep your jewelry to a minimum when traveling, but most people always want to have at least several alternative pieces with them, instead of wearing the same things day after day. I assure you that I understand the motivation behind bringing nice jewelry to wear when you travel, but please remember that extra attention is needed in order to avoid putting yourself at risk in certain situations.
Joe Brandt is a local resident, and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928. Readers are invited to submit questions or comments to [email protected].Names or contact information will not be used for publication, and all inquiries will be answered promptly.