$15 million lesson for Saudi princess

Along with "passports, tickets, money," every traveler ought to repeat a second mantra: "Don't bring it if you can't afford to lose it."

A Saudi princess is repeating that lesson to herself after she lost all her valuables on vacation.

Staying at a luxury hotel in Sardinia, Italy, she locked jewels and cash worth €11 million ($15.6 million) in her hotel room safe. But because the safe was embedded in the wall only with an easy-to-break coating of silicone, it took only 10 minutes for expert thieves to make off with everything, safe and all, and escape undetected while she was having dinner.

In Italy, there's been a rash of five-fingered discounts at five-star resorts. A Moroccan businessman lost about €150,00 (nearly $213,000) the same way last week, and a German businessman lost about $1.4 million in cash and jewelery when the safe was swiped from his hotel room in Portofino, Italy.
The most obvious question about the heist is why she felt the need to travel with $15 million worth of anything, but then again, I don't move in those circles. From what I've seen in James Bond movies, you have to dress for dinner if you want to be taken seriously at Europe's elite resorts, so I can't judge.

Although these recent incidents, which may be connected, took place in the playground of the world's wealthiest jet-setters, that doesn't mean the same thing can't happen to the most cash-strapped of tourists.

Every hotel has someone on call who has the ability to crack your safe, because tourists are always forgetting their combinations or keys. Every time you use your safe, you're relying on the integrity of people whom you have never met.

I once had about 120 rands taken from my wallet at a hostel in Coffee Bay, South Africa. While I was swimming in the Indian Ocean, my funds were supposedly locked in the safe behind the reception desk. It turned out the guys running the place were closet scumbags, and because they were clever enough to leave a few notes in my billfold, I didn't notice the theft until I was far down the road after I had checked out.

Fortunately, the mistake of trusting the staff of my chosen accommodation only cost me about $20 that time. It was a cheap lesson: Take little, and trust no one. It's not safe unless it's your safe.

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