Shop Talk: Perils of travel – Losing stuff and cyber crime


Sometimes we think the best way to protect our security and our stuff these days is to never leave the house unless we’re wearing clothing with no pockets and carrying nothing but a song in our hearts, here on Marco and everywhere else too.

That’s because we are beset with warnings and cautionary tales about how much a person has to lose by venturing out in public any other way.

Ask any computer hacker, any hotel lost and found official, any cab driver or password collector, any rental car manager, airline cleaning personnel or movie theater night cleaning crew and they’ll tell you the bare facts: People lose stuff all the time everywhere.

“We find at least one cell phone a week left behind,” says the man who runs Marco Movies, Nick Campo. “We also get our share of cameras, umbrellas, single earrings, lipsticks, little girls’ purses, all that and more.”

Nick says one movie goer left a wallet in the theater with $3500 in cash.

“We didn’t hear from the man for four days and when he came in, frantic, he said he hadn’t had the need for cash so forgot about the billfold.”

A police officer from up North once left his cash-filled wallet and his badge at the movies here. When he got it back, cash and badge intact, he was so surprised and pleased he gave the server a reward.

But such things as children’s dental retainers usually are left unclaimed. Apparently banks also get a lot more than deposits from their customers.

Mary Zachrich has worked at several banks over the years. She now is with Centennial Bank on Marco,

“People have left cell phones, checkbooks, drivers licenses, credit cards, money, car keys, even groceries,” Mary says. “Also eyeglasses, purses, toys and dolls.”

Staffers at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort get a lot of those items as well, plus electronic chargers for cell phones and laptop computers. Some people also leave behind beach toys, but a common theory on that is that parents leave that stuff on purpose, not wanting to schlep it home.

Servers in Marco restaurants often get more than tips left at or around the tables.

“We often find iPhones and cell phones, iPods and occasionally small cameras,” says Brian Penn at CJ’ on the Bay.

One repository of lost and left stuff is the rental car return lot.

Mark Feola, manager of the Hertz office at the Marco Beach Marriott, says he and his colleagues have found in cars, among other things, radar detectors and GPS systems.

“But he biggest thing, the most commonly left behind items are garage door openers. They stick them on the visor and they never look up.”

Then there’s losing valuable gadgets and data to thieves

From low-tech forgetfulness to high-tech skullduggery, having our identities appropriated by cyber-sinners is an outrage one need not even leave home to experience.

But if you’re among summer travelers, some advice you might find valuable is available from Kim Komando, a multi-media computer expert. She’s on TV and radio and has a prolific website empire.

Locally, Komando’s three-hour program is heard at 1pm Sundays on 92.5FM and at 1240 and 1270 on the AM dial.

Among her observations on keeping your electronic data safe when you’re out and about:

“Losing hardware will put a huge dent in your wallet, but it is replaceable. You really need to worry more about your data.”

One caution is to back up key data before you travel incase your laptop or smart phone disappears. And another thing:

“I’ll bet you’ll be using public hotspots while you’re traveling. You might stop by a coffee shop. Or maybe you’ll connect from your hotel. Public Wi-Fi is everywhere. Unfortunately, you can’t count on these hotspots to be secure.

“I really advise against banking at public hotspots. Someone can read your password over your shoulder. Why risk it?”

Our advice is to Google “Kim Komando” and prepare for a blizzard of information that can help you guard your gear and the goodies installed on it.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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