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|| News Item: Posted 1999-03-07

Travel Tips: Keep Your Gear Safe at the Hotel
By Captain Ron

It was a long flight, all your bags made it in, and you've schlepped all your gear up to your room. Now you're thinking to yourself, "gee, I feel like treating myself to a really nice dinner" (read that as "how much can I get away with on my expense account?).

Now if you're like most folks, you turn on the TV and hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, on your way out of the room.

Do you really think that's going to fool anybody? All a burglar has to do is call your room to see if anybody is there.

Security tip #1
Before you leave the room, call the front desk and tell them you're going to take a nap and to hold ALL phone calls.

Gee, I'm kinda worried about getting my gear stolen from the room. Maybe I can hide it somewhere? In the dresser, buried under some clothes? Behind the curtains? Under the bed? In between the mattress? (makes for a really lumpy bed)

Sorry to inform you, but a professional thief can toss a room in under 1 minute, and knows about all those hiding spots.

Security tip #2
Put your gear in the bathtub, and partially close the shower curtain. It's a strange phenomenon, but bad guys just pass right by the old water closet. (of course now that this tip has been published, every thief with a computer will know to check out the bathtub)

Security tip #3
For less than $50.00 you can buy a portable ultrasonic or infrared motion detector from Radio Shack, or Home Depot. They run off of AA batteries and can be set on a table or chair. When the bad person enters the room, a 110 decibel siren goes off, bad person shits their pants, bad person leaves the room, (or goes into the bathroom to clean up and discovers your gear in the bathtub) Be sure to purchase a motion detector with REMOTE ARMING and DISARMING. (looks kinda like a car alarm remote) DO NOT buy a detector with an entry and exit delay for arming. The entry delay is to long and the bad guy can get all the way into your room before it goes off.

If money and paranoia are no object, there are more sophisticated detectors that will plug into the phone line and dial a preprogrammed number (hotel security, or your pager)

Security tip #3a
Don't forget to use the "Do Not Disturb" sign, as this keeps the housekeeping staff from having a coronary, when they come to turn down your bed and leave a chocolate on your pillow. (What! no chocolates! Tough shit, I'm doing you a favor, every photographer I know is too fat anyway.)

How about using the hotels safety deposit boxes? Good luck. Most deposit boxes are too small to even accommodate a camera body.

Some hotels feature in room safes, to protect your valuables. They vary in size; some are big enough to hold an entire Domke bag. If you have a choice opt for a safe with a keypad rater than a mechanical key. (One less thing to lose)

Security tip #4
Don't stay at hotels with in room safes. This is not rocket science. There is a reason why they have in room safes.

Why don't you just keep the gear in the car trunk? Well now that's not actually a bad idea depending on the situation. If your are going out for the evening (dinner, cigars, naked bars, etc.) by keeping the gear with you, you're going to minimize the amount of time the equipment is unattended. When you get back to the hotel, you can drag the gear back to
your room for the night.

Security tip #5
When you pick up rental car at the airport, you pack all the camera gear in the trunk and all your clothes in the passenger compartment, then when you get to your accommodations; there's no muss or fuss with the trunk. (Which is what bad guys look for).

(Capt. Ron travels the country spreading the gospel of catch and release.)

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