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Keep an Eye Out for Grinch at Airports

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Unattended carry-on luggage is a prime target for thieves at airports.
MORRISVILLE — Airports across the country will be packedthis weekend with people heading home for the holidays. But, beware! Whileyou're unloading the car or fumbling with your ticket, a scam artistcould be waiting for just the right moment to become the Grinch that stealsyour Christmas.

The bag you carry on is what thieves long for -- the bag in which youcarry money, jewelry, phones, and even laptop computers. According toairport police, people expect thieves to be in New York, Atlanta, or Washington DC, but there were 24 personal thefts at RDU International thisyear.

On the radio dial, RDU dispenses safety advice to air travelers. It'sneeded because thieves find the holiday season prime time for theirbusiness. Traveler Ron Verlander says he likes to keep his bags close.

University of North Carolina student Leah Pegues says she has a healthydoes of airport paranoia.

Police say inattention at curbside is an invitation to thieves. Youhave to hold on to every bag.

Airport officials say you shouldn't fly looking prosperous. If youdisplay expensive clothes and jewelry, it tips off thieves that what's inyour luggage is probably worth taking.

Editor's Note:

Airport security experts say there are five danger spots where youreally need to watch your luggage.

  • Curbside skycab, where you first arrive at the airport, is where a thief finds the first opportunity. Don't take your eyes off your baggageuntil you see it placed on a conveyer belt by the attendant.
  • Don't let your guard down in the restroom. Don't place jackets,purses, or travel bags on hooks inside stalls. Keep everything at yourside or between your feet.
  • Travelers can usually find trouble at phone banks. They areparticularly popular spots for scam artists. Often, one person willdistract you, why the other goes for your bags or wallet.
  • Security checkpoints are also security nightmares. Wait for the personin front of you to clear security checkpoints before you let go of yourbags.
  • Baggage claim is shopping at its best for thieves. Never leave one bagunattended -- even for a second -- while you get your other luggage off theconveyer belt.
  • Photographer:Mark Copeland