Leave the jewels at home

Posted Date: 29 March 2014
Theft and burglary

Many Kiwis are making themselves targets for theft by wearing ostentatious jewellery abroad says Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI).

”Snatch and grab” thieves used to be limited to the poorer parts of the world.  Unfortunately, travellers should now consider leaving their valuable items at home as thieves become more brazen with daylight robberies in even the wealthiest countries.

SCTI CEO Craig Morrison says he’s seen photographs of the damage inflicted when a tourist has had a necklace or medallion ripped from their neck and it’s not pretty.

“It’s bad enough to lose something of value to you, but to have it forcibly taken is really traumatic. Jewellery is high value and easy to on-sell which makes it a magnet for thieves.”

According to SCTI data, the most common countries for this to occur in are Indonesia, Vietnam and Spain, however Morrison says SCTI travellers have also been stopped in both Lebanon and Nigeria by armed groups and have been robbed of their jewellery, electronics and cash.  “It can happen anywhere,” he pointed out.

Another tactic - often deployed in South East Asia - involves the back passenger on a motorbike reaching out and grabbing a tourist’s bag as they drive past.

Other claims have involved a motorcyclist and passenger pulling up to a traveller walking down the street, drawing a weapon and demanding cash, jewellery and electronics.

Morrison says it pays to know a little bit about the country you’re travelling to and to carefully consider the image you present.

While people are aware that they should dress in moderate clothing in conservative cultures, they need to be more cautious about their accessories in poorer countries.

"Wearing a 24 carat gold chain that could support a local family for a year is obviously going to draw attention to yourself. You might be on vacation, but they aren’t. If nothing else, displaying obvious signs of wealth won’t work in your favour when you come to bargain at the local markets and you’ll automatically be a magnet for hawkers.”

And it’s not just people taking advantage of travellers. In Bali, for example, cunning locals have trained macaques to steal items such as sunglasses, cameras and jewellery from tourists, with the goods later being exchanged for monkey treats.

Morrison says the best advice for travellers is to leave valuables at home. However, if you do plan to take jewellery with you:

  • Make sure you have adequate proof of ownership and value in the event you need to claim. Keep a receipt for new items and have older pieces valued by a professional.  
  • Check your travel insurance policy to ensure cover is adequate for the value of your jewellery if you do plan to take it on holiday with you.

When away:

  • Closely guard your jewellery at all times.
  • If you wear jewellery for religious, medical or other personal reasons keep it out of sight where possible.
  • Don’t leave items unattended in a public place, in a vehicle overnight or in unlocked premises or an unlocked vehicle – they’re unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance policy.
  • Don’t wear flashy jewellery in poor countries or areas.

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