My family staycation last summer had a rude ending when my double City Mini stroller was stolen at Legoland. My 4-year-old daughter and husband were on their last ride of the day, while my 2-year-old and I were doing some archaeological digging in the dinosaur sand box.
What we discovered instead was that our stroller went missing. We returned to our stroller 10 minutes later to change diapers, when I noticed the 3-foot minion doll we just won lying on the ground with the mommy hook still attached to it. I knew in that instant someone didn't mistakenly take our stroller. It had been stolen.
Worst of all, I left my backpack in one of the seats. Why did I do this? Because on some level I believed that leaving my belongings in the stroller would prevent someone from taking the stroller; and vice versa. I didn't think anyone would take something from inside a stroller either. I was wrong.
I spent the next three hours circling Legoland carrying a 27-pound toddler (I never appreciated my stroller like I did at that moment), filling out a police report, speaking to Legoland security, and calling credit card companies. Replacing a stroller is expensive but it can also put a damper on your vacation. Avoid this mishap from happening to you by following these simple steps.
1. Purchase a stroller lock. Stroller locks are very affordable (around $20) and probably provide the best line of defense against stroller theft. Many stroller locks have chords that stretch for several feet making them easy to use. I've looped mine around trees, chairs and gates. Like any theft prevention device, the mere appearance of it will deter thieves.
2. Put on the breaks. Not all stroller breaks operate the same. So figuring out how to undo the breaks is just one more added step for a looter to have to take. Also, many strollers are mistakenly taken. Putting on the breaks will make someone think twice before taking a stroller that isn't theirs.
3. Label your stroller. A hello-my-name-is sticker won't suffice. Sew or iron a decal label with your family name onto your stroller in a conspicuous place. That way, even if you do get your stroller misplaced or stolen, and happen to recover it, you can lay claim to it. And who would want to steal a stroller that has somebody else's last name on it?
4. Don't leave valuables inside strollers. Some people may think that leaving their belongings inside a stroller will prevent theft (who would think such a thing?). But it can have the opposite effect (I live proof). So don't leave your purse, shopping bags or anything of value inside your stroller.
5. Decorate your stroller. The minion doll would've been a great way to notice and track down my stolen stroller but it was too easy to discard. A balloon, tightly coiled around your stroller, for instance, may work as an effective deterrence.
6. Rent or bring a cheap stroller. It won't be as comfortable but at least you won't risk losing hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.