Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Theft Resistant Bags.


            Those of you that have read my blog post on handbag theft may recall this photo, illustrating how a strap can be fitted around a fixture for added security. If you have not read the blog on handbag theft, I suggest you do so since it contains some useful security advice even if you do not carry a handbag. My time at universities has often involved conversations that go:-

            “My bag! It has gone!”

            “Where was it?”

            “I just left it there for a moment while I went off to…”

{Fast Forward}

            “It has all my notes in it! Why would someone want those?”

            “They probably didn’t, but they are gone, and you are really screwed now!”

            OK, I’m not generally so callous as to say the last bit, but that is pretty much the consequence. My point is, male or female you at some time will have a bag that contains things important to you. Even if you think those things are of no value to someone else that will not stop it getting stolen. Read the blog on bag security.

            Back to the topic of today’s blog. I began to investigate the bag used in the photo that I had used. Backtracking on the search engine I discovered this was no ordinary bag, but had a number of interesting anti-theft features.

·         The strap of the bag contained two stainless steel cables to hinder it being cut.

·         The clip on the strap has a locking device so it cannot be easily detached once the strap is a passed around a fixture.

·         The zipper pulls can engage spring clips so the zips cannot be easily opened without the owner’s knowledge.

·         The body of the bag has concealed metal mesh so that the bottom cannot be easily cut through.

·         The bag also contains a shielded compartment so that information on credit cards or passports cannot be read remotely.

An impressive range of features on a not-unattractive bag. What was also impressive was that this bag was being offered for $49.95! Could I find a similar bag in the UK at a reasonable price?

A brief websearch turned up the Pacsafe Metrosafe 200 GII. At first glance this seemed to be the same bag but the actual shape of the main part is slightly different, the other design being from the same manufacturer and termed a “Bucket bag”. Both have the same security features and have two useful side pockets for a water bottle and a collapsible umbrella, for example. After I had ordered the Metrosafe 200 I realized this was not quite the same bag and did a little more research. Pacsafe make an impressively large range of bags, all incorporating these security features. There is also a Metrosafe 100, which is a smaller bag of the size that I think is easier to defend and remain aware of. The price of the Metrosafe 100 was reasonable so I ordered one of these for my lady too.

So, what are these bags like? The two I have got to examine (the Metrosafe 100 and 200) are both made from a tight-weave black nylon and are very attractive. Given the mesh and steel cable used in their construction you might expect a weight penalty but I cannot say it feels heavier than any other bag of similar size. While I have brought these bags to serve as handbags for my girlfriend the styling is attractive and neutral and I’d have no problem in carrying or using these myself.

The strap is good quality and provided with a sturdy looking buckle and slider for adjustment. The two steel cables concealed within give the strap a nice springiness. One end is securely sewn to the bag, the other attached to a sturdy ring by a clip. This clip has a sort of bolt-action lock so it can only be released if you are familiar with its mechanism. The clip allows the strap to be passed around a fixture like a chair arm or table leg. Trying to release the clip will take a couple of seconds and make anyone tampering with it conspicuous. Obviously this and all the other features of the bags are of little use if you leave them totally unattended!

Below the sturdy ring and within one of the snap pockets is a spring clip. When it is closed the specially shaped pull tab on the main zip is secured by this clip. This spring clip is my only criticism of this bag. It is set quite deep in the pocket and while it is mounted on elastic it takes a bit of effort to bring zip tab and clip together. If you are undisciplined it will be tempting to leave the zip pull unsecured.

On each end of the 200 bag there is a side pocket intended to take such items as a folding brolly or bottle of water. These are provided with press-studs on the rear side to make them fold flush when used for less bulky items. A small handle is provided at the top of the bag. On the back side of the bag is a zipped compartment. While the zip uses the same pull tab as the other zippers this one will not reach to any spring clips. Since this pocket would normally be against the body this is not a major problem.  A short chain could be added to the tab, allowing it to secure to the spring clip in the side pocket.

The front of the bag has a padded flap secured by Velcro. Beneath this is a large separate compartment secured by a two-way zip, both tabs of the zip attached to a spring clip. In one corner is an opening for a headphone cable. The front compartment is divided into a number of usefully sized lightly padded pockets. One of these contains the leaflet for a five year warranty. One of these pockets is RFID safe. A plastic spring-clip is provided for hanging useful items from. The interior of this pocket is a rather nice yellow-green which will probably make the contents easier to find.

The main compartment and rear pocket are also lined with yellow green. The main compartment has a large additional pocket in it and has a split-ring suited to hanging keys on a snap link.

            The 100 is similar to the 200 in shape but smaller and simpler. There is no flap and no side pockets. There are just two compartments and the zippers of each are secured by a spring clip to one side. This spring clip is easier to use than that of the bigger example. The carrying strap is the same as that of the bigger bag but has a locking clip at each end so that it can be fully detached from the bag. Pacsafe sell similar straps separately for this wishing to add them to an existing bag. The mounting rings appear to be sturdy and well anchored. A tunnel on the back of the bag allows it to be threaded onto a narrow belt for wear as a waist pack. Both compartments have the attractive green yellow lining that the larger bag has. The main compartment has a number of usefully sized sub-divisions including an RFID pocket. The main compartment is provided both with a plastic spring clip and a split ring, located on opposite sides of the compartment. A port for a headphone cable is also provided.

            Both bags show an impressive care and attention to detail. All of the spring clips are swivel mounted, for example, making them less fiddly.

            An illustrated booklet explains the features of the bag in pictures and a number of languages and it is recommended that this booklet be kept in the bag for the eventuality that the metal elements concealed in the bag set off any security scanners.

      I presented the two bags to my lady this weekend. She is very impressed with them and very pleased.