If you work for any sizable company, you surely have been subjected to one or more of those information security training sessions that tell you to either keep your laptop with you at all times or to lock it in the hotel safe. Smart advice that is rarely listened to by most of us.
Well, I'm off on a trip to the UK staying at a Holiday Inn hotel in what appears to be a nice relatively rural area outside of Bristol. One of my fellow travelers came back from a joint dinner to find the window in his room smashed in, his computer gone as well as his computer bag.
Unfortunately, he had his passport, car keys and much other stuff within the computer bag and so here he was, stranded in the UK without a passport. Luckily, he still had his wallet with his driver's license and credit cards. He spent much of the next day in the US Embassy in London going through the steps necessary to get a new temporary passport issued (good for one year) just so he could return home (at a cost of approx. $97).
How did this happen? Well, he was in a ground floor room, left the computer on the desk in plain sight with the curtains open. The hotel, which mentioned later that things like this had happened several times recently, had not taken the extra step to warn people staying on the ground floor.
Morals of the story:
- Close the curtains when you come into your hotel room.
- Don't leave your laptop in clear view (yeah, you should put it in the safe, but I've only felt necessary to do that in Rome, but perhaps I will be more cautious moving forward).
- Keep your passport with you! Don't leave it in your room.
- When given the choice, stay in an upper floor room.
- One of our fellow travelers also pointed out that when he leaves his room, he puts the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door handle to make it seem like someone is in the room. Good advice if you ask me.
Luckily we were but an hour and a half from London. If we had been much further away from a US Embassy, it's likely he would not have been able to get things sorted out so that he could go home on time.