Protect Your Phone from Theft Abroad

phone theft happens everywhere
Most thefts occur in the cities but they can happen in the suburbs too. Unsplash Photos

What to do if You Experience Phone Theft During Vacation

By Kaelie Piscitello

Protect yourself against phone theft by backing up your device and using anti-theft bags.
Protect yourself against phone theft by backing up your device and using anti-theft bags.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses their phone!

A little over a year ago, my friend and I were having a blast in a nightclub on our trip to London…until we realized my friend’s phone was missing.

We couldn’t find it anywhere, and when my friend returned to the establishment the following day, the business owners informed her that professional pickpocketers were in the club last night, taking many people’s phones.

One out of five travelers has their phone stolen abroad every year, and a staggering 77% of people do not protect their property by insuring their devices.

Where do you have a greater chance of having your phone stolen? Can you protect yourself and your private data?

Keep reading to learn how to prevent phone theft and what to do if this happens to you.

Where Does it Happen the Most?

According to CNBC, some of the most common cities in the United States where people steal phones are Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, Baltimore, New York, and Boston.

Up to 55% of phone thefts occur in urban area, while a surprising 33% occur in the suburbs.

Most people have their phones stolen because they leave them unattended in public. However, thieves also steal phones in bars, nightclubs, and workplaces. Most phone thefts occur between 12 and 5 pm, so take extra care of your device during those hours.

Avoid having your phone out when walking around in cities.
Avoid having your phone out when walking around in cities.

Be Smart: Preparation Tips for Just in Case

Of course, no one wants their phone stolen during their vacation. However, you should take some security measures to protect yourself in case of an emergency.

Print out all documents related to your trip, including any transportation tickets, IDs, and hotel reservation receipts. Or else upload them to Google docs so they can be found on another device even if your phone is gone..

You can also download security apps ahead of time that sync your data with another device. This way, you do not lose any data if you must completely erase your device’s contents. Make sure to also back up your phone to another device before leaving for the same reason.

People can steal your phone's data after taking the device, so make sure to erase everything if it's stolen.
People can steal your phone’s data after taking the device, so make sure to erase everything if it’s stolen.

How to Protect Yourself from Phone Theft

Many phone thefts in cities occur because thieves drive by in cars or on scooters, grab devices out of people’s hands, and speed off.

To prevent this from happening to you, avoid having your phone out when walking in public. Never take out your phone near the street; this way, no one can drive off with your phone.

Since many people have their phones stolen in restaurants, you should keep your device in a zipped pocket or a bag as a best practice. If you leave your phone lying on your table, you have a greater chance of someone stealing it, even if you keep a close eye on it. Even in the blink of an eye, as I found out in Barcelona airport, you have to be very careful not to leave it there…it will be snatched up quickly.

If you stay in a hostel with roommates you do not know well, never leave your phone unattended. Take the device everywhere, and never leave it alone while charging it. If you need to leave it in your room, keep your phone in a locked suitcase.

Additionally, anti-theft travel bags now exist, so you can buy one and keep it on your person when walking around crowded tourist areas.

Change all social media passwords if your phone is stolen on vacation.
Change all social media passwords if your phone is stolen on vacation.

What to do If Someone Steals Your Phone

If the unimaginable does happen and someone steals your phone, you need to take immediate action.

Many people store some of their most important and private information on their cellular devices today, and you will want to keep it away from thieves.

You first must immediately freeze any bank accounts and credit cards connected to your phone.

Then, ask to borrow a friend’s phone and change as many passwords as you can think of, including social media and apps with linked bank information, such as Venmo and PayPal.

Enable Lost Mode on the Phone

Next, enable your device’s lost mode without turning off location services if possible. This way, you can still track down your phone if you want to. Then, call the police. Though they might not be able to get your phone back, you must do this because your bank and insurance will ask for proof of theft.

After contacting the police, inform your travel insurance about the theft, as some will cover the cost of a new one. You should also tell your network provider and banks, so they cannot attribute any suspicious activity on cards to you. Hopefully, you pay the $9.99 a month for AppleCare, which would cover a replacement if your phone is lost or broken.

After completing all these steps, erase everything on your device, even if you did not complete a backup recently. It’s better to lose some data than have someone steal your most important information.

Continue monitoring your phone’s location, but do not put yourself in harm’s way if you do not need to. It’s better to stay safe and lose your phone than to get hurt.

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