Strange things happen at night in sleeping cars in a train. Strangers enter your cabin accidentially, smugglers hiding cigarettes, someone is sleeping in your bed when you've been away for some minutes etc.

When travelling in a sleeping car and not having an opportunity to lock valuable things away, how to protect them from being stolen when you have a tight sleep like I have sometimes? I have things in mind like Notebooks, Tablets, bigger Cameras and things that do not fit into your pocket or under your pillow.

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    My uncle once was left literally with just his knickers. He's a lawyer and was going to a hearing. He had to ask someone to buy a suite for him and go pick him up.
    – algiogia
    Sep 24, 2015 at 15:27
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    @algiogia: Why was your uncle wearing knickers o.O Sep 24, 2015 at 15:36
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Each to their own... but I'd have thought that'd be a suitable deterrent. If I was a thief and came across a sleeping man wearing nothing but knickers, I'd keep walking. Sep 24, 2015 at 16:44
  • Ha! I knew I'd posted the same advice before. Almost word for word as well.
    – SpaceDog
    Sep 25, 2015 at 3:15
  • Oops... I thought "knickers" was for both man's and woman's underwear...
    – algiogia
    Sep 25, 2015 at 9:14

2 Answers 2


First, get bag(s) with sections that have double zippers that can be padlocked together. Then get decent (big) padlocks and a normal flexible bike lock. Put the valuables in the locking section, then put the bike lock through the locked hoop of the padlocks and secure it to something. I've yet to be in a train where there wasn't something you can use for this. You can have a few bike locks that you chain together for more freedom. If there's really nothing then the sheer fact you've gone to the trouble (especially if you've chained several bags together) may put people off -- although it might indicate you've got something valuable to protect.

Keep the keys on you, on a chain round your neck, in a pocket, whatever. You'd probably get away with putting them in some accessible pocket of the bag because what you're trying to do is make your bag look like too much trouble so the thief goes and looks for something easier.

As for people coming in when you're away there's less you can do. If the compartment has doors it's very possible you can lock them from the outside. These rarely use unique keys and are often 'square' or 'triangle' keyhole locks (sorry, can't find a decent image). You can either get the generic keys online or they can generally be locked with the sort of needle-nose pliers you get on decent multi-tools. If there's other people in the room they can get out because there's a normal turnable latch on the inside (of course if they do that they're unlikely to lock it again).

If you can't lock the door you can try to discourage people taking your bed by making it look obviously slept in, consider leaving an old book open on the pillow, or something similar.

If it's shared compartment your best bet is to try and be nice with the others so they'll protect your space. Taking a few nice edibles to share might work past a language barrier, or -- depending on who's there and if you drink -- a drink to share.

Finally, to echo the above, don't advertise that you have valuable stuff. So don't keep your laptop in an Alienware branded laptop bag or your camera in a obvious camera carry. Use generic backpacks and bags -- better if they look beaten up and well traveled. In addition (and slightly competing with) that, it's often better to have a bag that's recognizably yours by color or decoration or whatever. That way you can easily tell if you see someone with it and it minimizes the "Oh, I thought this was mine" defense which will also put people off.

The things you talk of are crimes of opportunity and the perpetrators are looking for the easy target, sadly you just have to make your stuff a more difficult target than the others on the train. It's not foolproof, but it does generally work.

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    I have a very strong feeling I've posted exactly the same advice before somewhere and that this is a duplicate, but I can't find it ...
    – SpaceDog
    Sep 24, 2015 at 13:46
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    For recognizable bags, bright colors (to spot them easily) and large stickers (to customize them) are a very good approach. Sep 24, 2015 at 14:24
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    I am looking at too much lock words in your text and also you had to look online for pictures of locks, so you might have overlooked look for lock in "... taking your bed by making it LOCK obvously slept in..." :D Sep 24, 2015 at 17:13
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    @MatthieuM. better yet if the stickers are sewn patches. Much more trouble to remove, and after some use even if the stitches are removed the discoloring of the exposed bag will show as a bright patch where the sewn patch were. Sep 24, 2015 at 17:17
  • "First, get bag(s) with sections that have double zippers that can be padlocked together." This may or may not work, depending on the bag. If the bag is a soft, holdall/sports bag, two locked-together zippers achieve absolutely nothing: you can open them a couple of centimetres, then pull on the sides of the resulting slit to completely open the bag without unlocking it. Sep 24, 2015 at 21:40

You can use a small metal chain to tether them to your hand or the seat. Big electronic devices come with with a tethering slot for small threads I believe.

You can also wear dark sunglasses while sleeping and keep your head straight as this tends to confuse the thief about whether you are actually asleep or not. I have actually tried this. It looks silly though.


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