New research out this week says that women's handbags are getting bigger, and so are providing bigger rewards for criminals. Most worryingly, according to ID fraud experts CPP, these larger bags are encouraging women to carry around personal documents such as their passport, bank statements or payslips that are indispensable to an identity thief, leading to an increase in cases of bag theft. And it's not just women at risk, the same research also reveals that 1-in-10 men now tote a "man-bag", most with personal documents inside (Telegraph).
Unfortunately, the advice to keep an eye on your handbag came too late for one member of the UK's "Serious Organised Crime Agency" (a sort of British FBI). On arriving at the main airport in Bogota, Colombia, to gather information on the drug cartels there, the unnamed agent managed to lose her handbag, and with it the memory-stick she was carrying containing the names and addresses of dozens of SOCA's informants and operatives. According to sources the agent is "a lovely girl but a bit daft and scatterbrained", just the sort of person to be transporting information vital to your country's war on drugs then (The Australian).
Of course, it's not always what's taken out of your handbag that can get you into trouble. A Melbourne woman faces five years in a Thailand jail for stealing a beermat, even though two people have come forward and testified that she is innocent and they hid the mat in her handbag. The woman's lawyer has appealed to the Prime Minister of Thailand to intervene in the case (ABC News).
Somehow I don't think the same excuse would work for Teresa Tambunting though. Tambunting, who worked for Jacmel Jewelry in New York, is alleged to have fashioned a hidden pocket in the lining of her handbag and smuggled out over $12 million in gold over the course of 5 years. Surprisingly, money doesn't seem to have been the motive, and soon after the company began an investigation into the higher than expected "manufacturing losses", Tambunting returned a suitcase containing 66lbs of gold pellets. Police later recovered another 447lbs from her Scarsdale home (The Times).
But even loaded with gold, Mrs Tambunting's handbags would fare a poor second in value to those of a certain Mrs Beckham. Victoria "Posh" Beckham, perhaps in a bid to be to handbags what Imelda Marcos was to shoes, has amassed an incredible collection of over 100 designer handbags. Specifically, they are all by one designer, Hermès, and all of one design, his extremely desirable (apparently) "Birkin" model, named for actress Jane Birkin, which start from around $7000 a piece. Beckham's entire collection, which she refers to as "an investment", is worth an estimated $2.3 million (Female First).