By Michelle Roberts, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Thieves have a new target when you’re flying and your valuables could be in jeopardy when they’re just a few feet from your seat on the plane.

Imagine opening the overhead bin on your flight and finding your carry-on bag is gone.

READ MORE: Massive Water Main Break Floods Part Of Beacon Hill

It happened to Laura Bevis when she was returning from overseas with her family.

“I had instant panic and anxiety,” she said. “I always put my jewelry in my carry-on, and, most importantly, our passports.”

In-flight theft is the new reality when it comes to air travel, according to George Hobica of

“It’s easy pickings,” he said.

Travel experts such as Hobica say theft on planes is a growing problem, with bags getting swiped, valuables stolen and pockets picked. Jewelry, money and medications are often the sought-after prizes, Hobica said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments

One of the reasons in-flight thefts are rising is because more travelers are trying to avoid checking their bags these days.

“People don’t want to pay the check-bag fee,” Hobica said, adding, “They also know there can be a lot of theft from baggage handlers.”

More passengers carrying on luggage means overhead bins are packed. Travelers often cannot use an overhead bin near their seats, putting their valuables out of sight. This clearly makes it easier for a thief to quickly steal something without being noticed.

Experts advise passengers to keep valuables out of the overhead bins and at their feet.

Bevis said she spotted a fellow traveler carrying her bag.

She was able to get her stuff back, but it taught her a tough lesson on how to travel.

MORE NEWS: I-Team: COVID Patient Unable To Get Monoclonal Antibody Treatment At 2 Hospitals

“You hate to say it,” she said, “but you can’t always trust people.”