What's in your manbag? Harmonicas, kittens and ipads

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manbag on the catwalk

Manbags are on the rise, and are packed with all sorts of valuables. New research has revealed that they are more than four times as likely to contain expensive tech than the typical handbag - putting them at risk from opportunist thieves.

So what strange things are men keeping in their manbags, and how can they keep them safe?

Valuables

The survey, from Nationwide Building Society, found that men are increasingly likely to carry a bag at least some of the time: almost two thirds said they had a manbag (compared to 95% of women who carry a handbag).

These bags are veritable treasure-troves. Men are more than four times as likely as women to carry expensive iPads, tablets and laptops in their bags. Some 18% of men listed a tablet or laptop as the most valuable item in their bag - compared to just 4% of women.

Women are more likely than men to carry between one and three valuable items over £20 (74% compared to 59% for men). Overall, the item listed by those surveyed as the most valuable in their bag (in monetary terms) was a mobile phone (34%).

Stolen

The concerning thing is that opportunist thieves have an eye out for exactly this sort of thing. The research also found that 19% of people have had at least one item stolen from their bag (that's one in five people).

Wallets or purses are the most likely valuable to be stolen, with four times as many women as men reporting that they have had them stolen from their bag outside the home (16% versus 4%).

However, not all of the lost or stolen possessions were necessarily of significant material value. Unusual items stolen from people's bags include a flag from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, an anorak, a blood donor card, hearing aids and a wetsuit. Items highlighted as 'most valuable' by those surveyed included a kitten, a harmonica, secateurs and the bag itself.

Martyn Dyson, Nationwide's Head of General Insurance, said: "People very often are unaware of how much valuable property they carry with them, especially given the increasing popularity of expensive smart phones, tablets and laptops. The research shows there is a huge variety of objects that people consider to be particularly valuable or precious, but too few think about the potential financial loss if these items were stolen."

When asked to describe the other unusual possessions in their bags, the following were listed: an Absinthe hip flask, a resuscitation face shield, tick remover, a blood test kit, cotton buds, car wheel unlocking kit, dice, a tennis ball, hair paste, milk, a radiator key, pebbles, a plastic duck, fluff and a tuning fork.

Protection

Clearly there's plenty to protect in our bags - so how do we keep them safe?

There are some basic rules. You should never leave your bag out of your sight - including under the table or under your chair when you're out.

You should choose a bag with sturdy straps, and wear it over your body, in front of you.
Keep the bag zipped, with valuables zipped into an inside pocket if possible, and keep your hand on your bag in busy places.

These steps will reduce your risk of having something taken from your bag, but will not guarantee you never lose anything, so it's essential you are insured too.

The research found that only 31% of UK adults know for certain that they would be covered for these thefts under their household insurance. A further 38% knew they had household insurance, but did not know whether they would be covered or not for thefts of valuables from their bag outside the home. Men are slightly more likely to know if they would be covered than women (33% compared to 29%).

It's worth checking your policy. Nationwide home insurance, for example, offers two different contents insurance policies: Home Insurance, which includes personal possessions cover both in and out of the home as standard; and Home Insurance Essentials, which offers personal possessions cover as an optional extra.

Dyson says: "Many people have not checked their contents insurance to see if they are covered or have no insurance cover at all. Others will have unnecessarily purchased individual products to cover a mobile phone or laptop when they are already covered for theft from a bag through their contents insurance. While it is very unfortunate to be the victim of theft, with Home Insurance and Home Insurance Essentials Nationwide strives to ensure that customers have the right level of cover in place to meet their needs, enabling valuable items to be replaced if the worst happens."

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