About 3.1 million American consumers were victims of smart phone theft in 2013, according to Consumer Reports. Thieves target cell phones from travelers because they are easy to steal and easy to sell.
Overseas thieves are often more brazen than here in the United States. Individual thieves and teams of thieves, involving both and men women, orchestrate scams and diversions targeting tourists just to steal their phones. That’s the bad news, the good news is that with some increased awareness of how cell phone thieves operate, as well as learning to take a few precautions you may return home from vacation with your phone and your photos and other irreplaceable information.
To start off, watch these short videos that captured actual cell phone thefts in action. See how easy it is to steal an expensive cell phone. Some of these cell phone theft videos show snatch and run thefts, and others you may have to watch a few times to see the exact moment a skilled distraction thief steals the victim’s phone while the thief is talking directly to the victim.
Video # 1 Fake Petition – Cell Phone Theft Scam
This cell phone theft video shows a phone being stolen from a tourist while dining at a restaurant in England. This type of cell phone theft tactic is very common around the world, especially in Europe. Watch how the thief approaches the victim with a fake petition on a clipboard. The thief then asks the victim to sign the fake petition which is usually for some made up social cause that anyone would sign – the distraction here is that the verbal conversation as well as the petition to sign are both emotional pleas that you would of course sign, and would almost feel bad for not signing it.
The thief uses this as a trap to get you into a conversation. Watch the cell phone thief lay his clip board over the victim’s phone as they are distracted by removing a few Euro coins from her purse to give as a donation. Once the victim signs the fake petition and gives a donation, the thief picks up the victim’s cell phone by concealing the theft with the fake petition clip board. The victim has no idea her cell phone was stolen and the thief quickly leaves the restaurant.
Video # 2 Two female thieves stealing an iPhone from a restaurant table
This theft shows two female cell phone thieves that are waiting for just the right moment to steal an expensive phone that the victim left unattended. While you can’t see it in the video, the victim is only a few feet away talking to some friends at an adjacent table in the restaurant. The thieves are waiting in line at the restaurant in an attempt to place a “fake” to-go order so they fit in the restaurant.
Video # 3 Team of female pickpockets using a young 7-year-old child to steal an iPhone
The victim thought she was smart by not hanging her purse on the back of the chair, and instead placed her purse between her back and the back of the chair. While most would think that would keep their valuables safe from pickpockets, watch how easy it was for the young child to steal the victim’s expensive cell phone without her noticing the theft of her phone.
Video # 4 Cell phone theft on a Hungarian subway
Watch as the cell phone thief steals an iPhone from a woman who is texting on her phone. The phone thief has the timing of the closing of the subway car doors mastered. When the subway door beeps, the thief blocks the door from closing with his foot, he waits another second or two for the doors to start forcefully closing as they are designed, which is his signal to snatch the phone out of the victim’s hand and run away. You will then see the victim try to run after the thief, but due to the subway doors being kept open too long, the door forcefully shuts, stopping the victim from chasing the thief.
Here are a few tips to help keep your cell phone safe from theft while traveling
1. Know Your Surroundings
Situational awareness is very important when it comes to preventing the theft of cell phones. As you saw by many If you’re thinking of using your phone in a public place, take a look around. As you saw in the videos, cell phone thieves look for people who are not paying attention to their surroundings.
2. Cell Phone Anti-Theft Carry and Storage Options
Sometimes you need to safeguard your cell phone, but don’t know where do store it because you don’t want to carry a travel bag, purse, or you are wearing shorts or pants that don’t have pockets. Here are a few anti-theft cell phone bags and gear to help you keep your phone secure when it’s not in use.
At The Beach
When you’re at the beach, where can you store your phone? Consider one of a number of waterproof cell phone pouches that will do the trick. From waterproof waist packs, waterproof cell phone cases, waterproof neck, belt, or arm bands will let you take your phone with you and keep it dry. If you don’t want to keep it on your person there many secure options such as portable beach and pool safes, locking beach bags, as well as small portable safes that secure to your beach or lounge chair.
Cell Phone Security Pouches When Your Pants or Shorts Don’t Have Pockets
If you don’t have pockets, and you don’t want to carry a purse or travel bag, you have several options to carry your cell phone and other small valuables. The Tube Wearable Waistband is a stretchy fabric waistband that you wear around your waist under your shirt and has several pockets that will hold your phone. Women have several cell phone security ideas to pick from. The Sholdit Security Scarf holds your cell phone in a special security pocket and is very stylish so it can be worn days or when going out for the evening. You can see more of these types of products here.
Cell Phone Security Wallets
If you don’t want to carry your phone in your pocket and want something a little more secure and not as visible, consider the Belt Loop Wallet, which is a pouch that you attach to your belt and wear it concealed in the inside of your pants.