Most of us fill our suitcases with essentials like clothing, shoes, toiletries, a camera and maybe a toothbrush. If we purchase an expensive souvenir or two, they must also come back home with us one way or another. Some take extra care and use couriers or other specialized shipping methods to handle these, while others just pack the items as they would anything else. In the majority of cases, this works out perfectly fine, but through no fault other than bad luck, a misplaced luggage tag or a dishonest airport employee, some people have ended up losing very expensive and important objects.
Diamonds Aren’t Forever
One of the world’s busiest air terminals, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City has acquired an unfortunate reputation as being a prime spot for thieves specializing in baggage looting. The fact that one should think twice about taking expensive jewellery along on vacation was driven home by a high profile case involving Rita Lamberg. After being told it was too big to qualify as a carry-on, the 69 year-old socialite’s suitcase was allegedly rifled by JFK baggage handlers. The inventory of lost items included a $40,000 diamond-encrusted Rolex watch, a $60,000 6-carat diamond ring and a $25,000 diamond ring with blue sapphires.
Cash and Lots of It
It does not seem like a wise idea to put cash in your luggage (two words: Traveller’s Cheques!), but many people roll the dice and do so anyway. A hapless traveller at Hong Kong International Airport misplaced a bag containing HK$100,000 in cash (approximately US$13,000). Luckily, airport staff were able to identify the man and return the money to him when found.
Much less fortunate was a Slovenian gentleman who mislaid a suitcase stuffed with €400,000 (about US$437,000). The bag did eventually turn up, but customs officials did not buy the man’s story about the money having come from a lottery jackpot. He was arrested and the cash was forfeited.
The Show Must Go On!
However, the top prize for lost items goes to world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. While in New York City for a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1999, Ma placed his 266 year-old, $2.5 million cello in the trunk of a taxi. Tired from travel and thinking about his performance later that evening, he left his instrument behind in his rush to exit the vehicle. Thanks to the efforts of the New York City police, the cab was located in a Queens’ garage and the instrument was returned undamaged in time for the cellist make his performance commitment.
Unsure about whether you should bring that expensive painting you purchased in Italy home on the plane with you? Chances are, you should think about having it sent by a courier specializing in that sort of thing. If the insurance available to you is sufficient for covering the cost of your item, you may proceed; but you can also keep an eye on your luggage by investing in compact and inexpensive GPS technology.