As a working photojournalist who travels more than most college students, one of my biggest fears while in a new place is having my valuables lost or stolen.
This fear has resulted in some pretty elaborate steps I take to make sure I’m not followed back to the car/hotel after a photoshoot, gear is locked, etc… but all it can do is deter a thief. If someone really wants your stuff, they will get it.
So while having your gear stolen is a terrible feeling – I’ve always hated myself more when I lose stuff without a thief’s help. Too many distractions, too little sleep, or some bad Pad Thai – there is often a reason why you left your belongings behind – but you still beat yourself up over it.
During my last visit to England in 2002, I lost a pair of glasses on the bus from the Airport to the hotel. I tried to get back in touch with the driver, but he claimed he saw nothing. After my friend told me a story about a research project that “lost” wallets throughout cities in Europe, depending on what part of the continent, some were actually returned with varying success and contents.
Recently an identity theft protection company in the UK, CPP, conducted another survey, with not very encouraging results. As featured on The Guardian: “Life assistance company CPP finds that Britons have lost 9m wallets in last five years – and over 75% will not see them again.”
Worse than just losing your Hello Kitty pink wallet – the lost time to replace everything you typically carry can be pretty substantial:
“The research, commissioned by life assistance company CPP, found that Britons – who carry an average of £85 in cash and £7,000 in credit in their wallets – have lost more than 9m wallets and £765m in the past five years. More than three quarters of those who lose their wallets will never see them again, and most will spend over 110 hours replacing their credit and debit cards.”
On the flipside, Reader’s Digest magazine conducted their “Global Honesty” test in 2007, with cell phones – with a much better rate of return across all of Europe and parts of the world.
So it seems certain countries will be more “honest,” like Sweden – whereas you can kiss your cash goodbye in Italy.