'The psychology of leaving a stranger with your valuables' blog discussion

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.




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  • When surfing from a crowded beach I ask a nearby family to keep an eye on my stuff. No problem so far!

    Its more difficult from a deserted beach; in which case I hide my stuff in the car and conceal the key under the bodywork. The trouble is that a lot of surfers do this and a thief will know that if they have time to search an isolated car they may find a key.
  • pinkteapotpinkteapot Forumite
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    A few weeks ago I was out shopping on a weekday morning and popped into the town Wetherspoons for their £1.80 sausage bap and cuppa - very MSE. :) As usual for a weekday, it was populated with a combination of elderly people having breakfast and town drunks drinking pints. I was loaded up with shopping bags and one of the drunks (they're a friendly bunch) said he'd watch my bags while I went to the bar to order or went to the loo. :)

    I commute to work on a long-distance train so have the loo issue. Commuters on my trains are a friendly bunch as we all have long journeys to work. Have often asked people to keep an eye on my stuff and never had a problem.

    Then again, I tend to assume people are decent unless given reason to think otherwise. I do know some people who assume that everyone is up to no good and probably wouldn't dream of doing this.
  • edited 18 November 2011 at 12:02PM
    tgroom57tgroom57 Forumite
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    edited 18 November 2011 at 12:02PM
    You're too trusting! Trains have cctv, much better to also be in view of one of the cameras
  • ShaneUKShaneUK Forumite
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    Very rare I use the train and have a laptop these days. However, when I do it is normally a long journey (Leeds > London or back). Therefore, I know that stops are infrequent so therefore is someone was to do a runner, they wouldn't be able to leave the train. Whilst I would still ask for someone to watch my stuff if necessary, I would time it so that is was soon after leaving a station.

    I did have a dilema recently, whilst in a food court. I had got my lunch (a McD with milkshake) and found a table, only to realise I had no straw. Did I risk leaving the table with my stuff on it (and risk the cleaners clearing it away, or someone nicking it), or take the whole tray back with me and risk not having a table anywhere afterwards!! Everyone looked too shady to ask to watch my food!!
  • ErrataErrata Forumite
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    It's a matter of degree. Generally people don't leave something valuable like a baby or their wallet with a stranger, but laptops or a carrier bag full of Prinmark rubbish are easily replaced.
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • geri1965_2geri1965_2 Forumite
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    No way will I ever ask a stranger to look after any of my stuff, unless it's stuff I'm prepared to lose.

    I have a netbook anyway so if I needed to use the toilet or whatever, I would close it up and take it in my bag with me.

    Ex-housemate of mine asked some people in a club to look after her bag whilst she was dancing, when she came back they had gone with her bag, and her car had also been stolen!

    My friend and her husband were at the beach and saw someone run off with someone's bag. Her husband is a very fast runner, so he chased after the thief and got the bag back.
  • The person who is actually at risk is probably the person you're asking to keep an eye on it. IIRC, an eppisode of "the real hustle" where the mark who had a laptop was asked to keep an eye on someone else's laptop. Once scammer A went to the toilet, scammer B started looking interested in the laptop. About half the marks would get up, or move intervene in some way, where upon scammer C would nick something from the mark's table (laptop, hand bag etc) and not even be noticed.
  • Errata wrote: »
    It's a matter of degree. Generally people don't leave something valuable like a baby or their wallet with a stranger, but laptops or a carrier bag full of Prinmark rubbish are easily replaced.
    Whilst on the face of it true - I'd be devastated if my laptop went missing :o
    Simon_c wrote: »
    The person who is actually at risk is probably the person you're asking to keep an eye on it. IIRC, an eppisode of "the real hustle" where the mark who had a laptop was asked to keep an eye on someone else's laptop. Once scammer A went to the toilet, scammer B started looking interested in the laptop. About half the marks would get up, or move intervene in some way, where upon scammer C would nick something from the mark's table (laptop, hand bag etc) and not even be noticed.
    oh my :(

    also about the train: if you regularly commute the same route at the same time you start recognising 'regulars' and can consider them more reliable to ask to keep an eye on things than someone who you have never seen before
  • tyllwydtyllwyd Forumite
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    In a canteen, if you pop off to the loo asking someone to keep an eye on your laptop, what happens if you get delayed, and come back to find that your friendly stranger has had to head off to their meeting, leaving your laptop sitting alone on the table?
  • tyllwydtyllwyd Forumite
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    And as a journalist, I expect that Martin would have a lot of personal details about other people on his laptop - letters with addresses on, phone numbers, maybe senstitive personal information about other people's financial affairs if he's doing research. If the laptop is stolen and someone gets access to that information, does that have any legal implications for him? And if he has left the laptop unattended in a public place, would that make a difference? Even if legally he doesn't have anything to worry about, on a personal and professional level I'd have thought it would be pretty damaging for him.
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