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Do Leave Home Without It


I tem: Billionaire oil baron Marvin Davis and his wife, Barbara, were robbed of $10 million in jewelry and about $50,000 in cash while vacationing on the French Riviera last weekend.

Our reaction: ARE THEY NUTS???????

HE: Golly, I don't know about you, but the very first things I always toss into my carry-on bag when I dash off to Bakersfield for the weekend are a big sack of gems from Van Cleef & Arpels and an immense wad of large-denomination folding money. After all, you never know when you're going to run into one of those restaurants that won't let you in unless you're wearing a Rolex inlaid with the Kohinoor diamond.

And you absolutely must have sufficient tip money on your person at all times. You know how surly the natives can get when you forget to strew the landscape with crisp new sequential hundreds. Why spend all that time in the bank signing those bothersome traveler's checks when all you have to do is draw out the cash and stroll out the front door counting it?

SHE: I was stunned to learn that Babs and Marv had stored their cash and flash in the trunk of their limo.

Haven't they heard of the safety pouches that seasoned travelers hide under their clothing? Or fanny packs?

Of course, they had a bodyguard to do their protecting. But what good is a guard when your goodies are in one car and he's in another? (Trapped in traffic, no less.)

Lesson learned: Leave the jewels home. Or tote faux gems, like the rest of the world has begun to do.

HE: Those fanny packs first appeared years ago as a skiing accessory, designed to carry wallets and small repair tools or first-aid items (or, in my case, a couple of oranges and a Snickers bar so I wouldn't have to stop for lunch). But they're not exactly a Brinks-truck-in-a-belt. Yes, they're attached to you, but what's to stop somebody from conking you with a chair and making off with the entire pack?

You're right: travel with costume jewelry and costume money, a.k.a. traveler's checks.

Actually, my sense of outrage about the Davises' little adventure was that the silly clunks felt that they couldn't get along on vacation without bringing a huge chunk of their disposable wealth with them. I thought that sort of vapor-locked thinking went down with the Titanic.

SHE: Blame it on the European society set. Every day, they sport--and behold--baubles the size of gumdrops. For them, it's old news. All of those passed-down-for-centuries rocks, you know.

I guess billionaires such as the Davises showing up, sans mega-jewels, at the snooty Eden Roc in Cap d' Antibes would be like us arriving at a Rams' tailgate party without our blue and gold pompons.

The first leg of the Davises' trip took them to Wimbledon. I hope Babs didn't sport her drop-dead sparklers there. Even I know diamonds and grass don't mix (unless they're on a tennis bracelet).

HE: These folks have obviously never heard of the apocryphal Willie Sutton rule. When somebody asked Sutton why he robbed banks, legend has it he replied, "Because that's where the money is." If you were a thief, would you hang around the local youth hostel in hopes of shaking down a summer school student from Bryn Mawr, or would you case the Eden Roc, laying for a pair of boneheaded Americans dripping with jewelry and fresh cash?

A compromise solution--assuming that our travelers wouldn't dream of setting foot on the Continent without a chest full of gemstones at the ready--would be to ship the jewelry in advance, heavily insured, to the hotel, where it could be locked in the hotel safe. Then, after it had been used to dazzle the local gentry, it could be locked back up and then shipped back home, again heavily insured.

Or our travelers could simply use the jewelry money to feed Equatorial Africa for a decade.

SHE: In Peter Savage's "Safe Travel Book" (Lexington, $12.95) he tells travelers who walk in public places not to wear any jewelry, even a wedding ring.

"If you carry a watch," he writes, "put it out of sight in a pocket. Even fake jewelry, if it looks expensive, will attract unwanted attention. If jewelry is required for a formal event, hide it under a coat until you arrive."

He also notes that he keeps valuables out of sight in a neck pouch that hangs unobtrusively beneath his shirt.

HE: Getting jostled in crowds is another thing to watch out for. If somebody "accidentally" falls into you, or if you get hit a fairly good lick by someone who doesn't even look back, you may have just met a pickpocket. In crowds--airports, train stations, drunken riots--I often switch my wallet from my hip pocket or an inside coat pocket to one of my front pants pockets. It feels uncomfortable, but it also feels safe.

Women with purses are at a bigger disadvantage, but they can hug the thing a little closer and drape the strap diagonally across their body, rather than just letting it dangle from one shoulder.

SHE: I have a tailored Tiffany gold necklace that I cherish. And I took it on a tour to Egypt in 1990. Why? The Cleopatra thing. You know, visions of me floating up the Nile with Caesar popping kumquats into my mouth.

But it was a foolish thing to do. I was terrified to leave it in the room or the ship, didn't stay long enough in either to put it in a safe, so I ended up wearing it all of the time . It was on my neck at the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, King Tut's Tomb, you name it.

It wasn't long before I realized the necklace owned me, not the other way around.

I guess the Davises have learned that in spades.

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