tommydog wrote: I have had so many things stolen over the years (3 bikes, 2 cars, 2 motorcycles, 2 trailers and a boat.) that I am determined not to be a victim again.
Well, theft happens. I lost my rucksack in New York as a young backpacker. I was going to suggest that despite the risks, panniers don't often get stolen - but you might have proven me wrong!
This thread has been about physical prevention of theft but that strikes me as always the least-good option even though it might be useful at times. My strategy (nothing new) is:
1. Reduce the amount of really valuable, sentimental items that you carry.
2. Split money and other valuables between luggage.
3. Cover stuff with pannier covers etc (as suggested above). It sort of reduces your radar image.
4. Use stuff as much as possible so what they take was due for replacement anyway.
5. Get into the habit of leaving your bike plus panniers in a noticeable place and ask someone to watch it - it is extraordinary how willing people are to do that.
6. Keep your bike in sight. This IMV is easier than it sounds and where minimal locks and security then come into their own.
7. Be a bit more assertive with places where you shop and eat - take it in to the supermarket or don't shop there.
8. Most of us get used to looking for places like cafes that have window seating or shops that have open windows - it becomes second nature.
I think we still live under the illusion that you can lock your bike up and leave it - I don't think you can and it happens to be one of the downsides of cycle touring, especially when you travel alone. But if you travelled as a single parent with a small child, you would never lock them up and leave them tied to a lampost (well, there might be times ...
). Similarly with suitcases and laptops - even locked in cars. Your bike and you are married for the trip and you stay together. Panniers just make this even more important. All the physical measures discussed in this thread are useful but they aren't sufficient as people keep pointing out. One day more places will have secure bike containers outside but not yet.