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Phone theft?

Hello everyone.
I'll be in London and Paris at the end of June/beginning of July. I'm doing a good amount of reading/research online to get some travel tips. Frequently, I have read that you need to be careful about having your phone "nicked". For instance, I have read not to use your phone for google maps or similar because having your phone out frequently is an invitation for theft. Is this something we really need to be concerned about? I feel like using my phone to navigate is going to be very important. Plus, I plan to take A LOT of photos with my phone. Should I not do that? I'm very confused by all the advice I read to keep my phone away.
Thank you, in advance, for any insight.

Posted by
21709 posts

Never sure how to take those comments. Ya, phone thefts, because they have value, can be a problem but it is a problem in Chicago and elsewhere. But is it a 10% problem or a 90% problem? I think it is closer to a 10% or less problem. You should not have you phone loose on a table top or in a hip pocket. But that is common sense for almost everything. And I would not walk down the street with my total concentration on holding a phone in front of me. Phones are very common in Europe and nearly everyone has one so just use a little caution with how and when you use it and you will be OK. Use common sense.

Posted by
1556 posts

I have a wrist band on mine. They’d have to take my hand with them.

Posted by
646 posts

Me and my misses are in town regularly and haven’t had any issues, but we tend to be in the nicer parts in the West, can’t speak for other areas.

I use my phone as needed, but if i’m standing still and looking something up, i never do it standing next to a road, instead i’ll face a wall or lamppost, just so someone can’t dash past and grab it… but do try and relax, Zone 1 London is very safe during daylight hours, just be sensible.

Posted by
5533 posts

Holding or using a phone isn’t an issue in London - many locals carry their phones or use them in the streets. The issue is more likely to be if you leave the phone on a table or sticking out of a bag or pocket. I have worked in London for 25+ years and have never had any issues. Just be sensible.

Posted by
5843 posts

I think in "research" you tend to hear the most sensationalist reports, and they are implied to be "common". One would think London is rife with teenagers on motorbikes, swooping along, grabbing phones out of the unsuspecting's hands.

I am sure phone theft happens, I am sure tourists in crowded tourists spaces are targeted, but no more than the usual pickpocket, and I was going to say camera...but people don't have those anymore, and thieves find no value in them.

It is a rare enough occurrence that I would not worry, certainly use caution as you always would, feel free to use it for maps, just be cognizant of your surroundings (you probably have more danger wandering into traffic or into a wall while looking at your phone).

I do not even think a leash or tether for your phone is necessary, but if it gives you comfort despite the hassle, then fine.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you everyone for you responses.

Paul, I do have cameras and I am considering taking one but...it's just another thing to carry so I thought I'd stick with my phone since it produces good photos.

Thanks again! I definitely find this forum to be the most sensible of them all so that is why I asked here.

Posted by
140 posts

I agree w/ the others. Everyone in those cities walks around with their phone in their hand. It's probably most at risk if you sit in on a cafe table where someone could walk by and snag it. I was in London recently and did consider getting a lanyard for my phone, just to have it handy, but there were so many options on Amazon that I never made a decision. If someone has one they like, please recommend.

Posted by
3340 posts

I think the main concern is leaving a phone on a table, eg. at a restaurant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve alerted the waitstaff after someone has left their phone on a table. In addition I have seen cameras left on a ledge with a gorgeous photo opportunity! I purchased a “travel wallet” for my phone & $$ last year for daily walks & future travel. The brand is running buddy. “Premium phone neck wallet set of two.” On sale $23.99. Free shipping with orders over $20. It serves the purpose.
the running buddy.com

Posted by
2705 posts

The point of bringing a phone is to use it. So use it for maps, photos, whatever you need. It’s a great tool.

Do phones get stolen? Yes. Does having one out, in and of itself, make you a target? IMO - No, not in Europe and to my experience certainly not in London or Paris. Why? Because every other person you see has a phone out in their hand. So if phones out in your hand make you a target, 50% of the people around you are also targets. If you are careless and leave it sitting unattended on a table or hanging out of your back pocket it might get stolen as a crime of opportunity. Could a phone be stolen literally out of your hand? Sure, but that’s like a mugging - something rare that does happen unfortunately.

In short - don’t be careless but use your phone as needed. That’s what I’ve always done.

I feel safer looking at google maps vs a paper map. The latter marks you as someone lost. The former - you’re just looking at your phone. To a casual onlooker, as long as you aren’t pointing at street signs and yelling about which way to go, you could be doing anything on your screen.

Posted by
454 posts

I did read something on here within the last 6 months about one person who did have their phone stolen on the first day but don’t recall if they described the circumstances.

I had one incident this trip (just got back), fell out of a loose pocket but realized it within 2-3 minutes. Fortunately I have “Find My” on my Apple Watch and pinged the phone, was dropped in the hotel lobby while I was in the restaurant so was retrieved quite quickly and easily. I also use the watch to basically direct me. Put in my route on phone and the watch pings me just on my wrist on turns, etc. so not walking down street holding the phone. I do agree with others here, NEVER leave it loose on a table.

Posted by
5456 posts

Paris is a terrible place for pickpockets. You should take precautions with you valuables, especially passports, wallets, phones.

Posted by
2564 posts

what an odd comment about Paris, what are you basing that on? Based on my readings it's about average for a tourist, unlike places like Rome and Barcelona.

Posted by
1220 posts

I had my phone stolen in London in 2018, I returned the next year and I’ll also be back in 3 weeks.

I think I’m one of the youngest regular contributors on here, I was at an after hours nightclub and was outside in the smoking patio. I don’t smoke but I wanted a break. I’m pretty sure the pickpockets were the group of guys that came up and started talking to people on the patio.

Anyway, I doubt after hours nightclubs are on the agenda of most of the readers of this forum and the exact same thing could have happened to me anywhere.

Posted by
11 posts

So, it sounds to me like I need to take slightly-elevated-normal precautions. :) Thank you for all the input. I truly appreciate it and I wish you all safe travels and/or wonderful dreams of travels.

Posted by
21709 posts

....Paris is a terrible place for pickpockets. ..... I do wish people would not make such bombastic statement because they are basically unsupported. Granted, Mr. Steves finally did get hit in Paris but is no worse than any other major city. We been fortunate over many, many years never to have encounter a pickpocket or even an attempt. But there is always the next trip. Take reasonable --- not extreme -- precautions and you will be fine because the pickpocket's attention will be diverted to someone who is not taken any precautions. You have little to fear.

Posted by
1034 posts

I keep my phone on the lanyard around my neck when I am traveling. That way it’s handy for me to use for photos, not stuck in a pocketbook or a pocket. And if I’m using it for a map I can hold it in my hand but still have the security of the lanyard.