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Safeguarding Phone

Does anybody have any particularly good tips about where to conceal your phone when you are in crowds, the metro, etc?

Posted by
2365 posts

Can't do links at the moment, but I recently found a Baggallini bag that has a "secret" slip pocket, and use a tether on my cell to attach to the strap. Add links later.
Links added
https://www.baggallini.com/modern-pocket-crossbody/POK730-BG.html
One of the views shows the pocket I use for my phone.

https://niteize.com/hitch-phone-anchor-tether
I attach one end to the bag strap hardware. My phone is handy for taking photos, hard to drop, and easy to put out of sight.

Posted by
737 posts

What I have done with my wallet is to buy fishing wire leaders from Amazon. I have a 12 inch one attached to wallet and then to a shorter 6 inch one looped in my belt. The wire leaders are very thin and flexible. Seven strand stainless steel with a plastic coating. There is a swivel at one end and a stainless steel snap at the other end. I punched a hole in my wallet to accommodate the snap.
With my wallet in my front pocket I can easily take it out to use it.
If it were pickpocketed the thief would only get twelve inches away.
I m sure you could do the same with a phone.

Posted by
748 posts

There really are no special precautions needed above what you would do in any other big city. Keep it out of sight in a zipped pocket, don't leave it sitting around on a cafe table.

If you put it in a bag/backpack make sure when you're in a crowd the bag is in front of you, not hanging off your back. Just be aware of where your stuff is and you'll be ok.

If you make the phone too inconvenient to steal you're also making it too inconvenient to use, so you may as well leave it at home.

Posted by
1368 posts

I travel with a satchel, so that is where my phone stays. The satchel strap is across my body and the bag portion is resting on my left hip when walking or on my lap in Metro or Bus. Never hanging from the back of my chair in a cafe. During the colder months, it usually is in my inside coat pocket.

You will see folks with their phones in their front & back pockets just like you & I see back at home.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
13889 posts

I carry a crossbody bag when I'm out and about. The current one I'm using is a Baggallini Town Bagg. It has an internal zip pocket that is pretty deep. If I'm not actively taking pictures or using the phone for ticket purposes I stash it in there. I also have a split ring on the strap with a carabiner on the zipper that I can secure shut. I don't particularly like the security purses with the steel cable in the strap and the metal mesh inside the bag itself as they feel too heavy for me so this improvised system works for me.

I don't put my phone down on a table anywhere.

Posted by
8025 posts

I wear my phone and thus can never set it down on a cafe table and have it swooped up by a passing thief or pulled out of my hands on the metro. If I am wearing a coat I wear it under on transit, but in warm weather I just consider it like any cross body purse. I use a Bandolier. Used the first one many years and just bought a new one for a new phone.
https://www.bandolierstyle.com/collections/all/products/sarah-pebble-leather-crossbody-bandolier-black-pewter
The phone case has a little snapped envelope that will hold a credit card and my passport card, but I also have
a leather envelope purse that attaches to the lanyard and holds a passport (only at the airport, I stow it otherwise) keys, a spare mask, lip gloss, meds etc. For me the secret of happy travel is learning how little you really need to carry around. The phone is my camera.
https://www.bandolierstyle.com/products/pebble-leather-expanded-zip-pouch-black-gold?keyword=purse
This is an expensive product but I used the first one for literally many years and it still looked as good as new. I am using the same purse I got years ago but had to buy a new case when I got a new phone -- that is something I do rarely. It is one of those high quality items that goes on forever.

There are many cheaper products that do pretty much the same thing if this isn't your idea of a luxury splurge. I highly recommend it. You use the product in the case, so you don't remove it and risk losing it, dropping it or having it grabbed.

Pockets are just not safe, even inside breast pockets, although an inside zipped hidden pocket in a jacket is probably reasonable. Don't underestimate the skill of pick pockets -- you are unlikely to be mugged but anything an experienced picker can reach is likely to disappear.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you for your responses. I have always kept my phone in a pocket inside my backpack or zipped inside a pocket inside my raincoat. The bandolier (maybe that is not the spelling) on a strap sounds risky to me as it would be easy for someone to cut the strap. The thing about losing one of these phones, especially abroad, is that it really would be an enormous hassle. almost a catastrophe so I was putting the post out there looking for new ideas.

Posted by
8025 posts

I have been traveling in Europe since 1960 and in recent years for weeks and months at a time. I have yet to meet anyone who has had a strap cut. I am sure it has happened sometime somewhere, but it really is not a risk worth worrying about in Paris. Pickpockets are skilled. they are not cutting pockets or straps.

Posted by
5365 posts

No one cuts straps. I carry my phone in my pocket or in my backpack.

Posted by
748 posts

I think strap cutting happened twice in Rome in the 1980s and bag makers have been selling useless cr*p on the back of it ever since.

The worst that will happen in Paris is having your pocket picked. Keeping your stuff in a zipped bag or pocket virtually makes you pickpocket proof - despite what people say most pickpockets just aren't that good.

Posted by
21 posts

When I was in Argentina, I had a crossbody bag similar to what you are describing and I was told immediately not to use it because the straps on purses like that were frequently cut!

Posted by
6865 posts

The levels of theft in Argentina are much, much, much higher than in France. If you have a coat or jacket, an inside pocket will do. If you have a purse, whatever the kind (as long as it closes), the purse will do. When it is not coat season, I have never had any issues using my front pockets even, but I can appreciate that as non-locals you might stand out just a bit more.

Posted by
21 posts

Twenty or so years ago, the fanny pack was a thing. It fit around your waist with a strap and was very convenient for travellers. I had a student who had hers pickpocketed in the metro in Paris in the mid 90s. My husband was also cornered in the metro when he was wearing one but of course, he had nothing in there but a water bottle. Glad to hear that the bandelino which is essentially an updated version of the fanny pack works so well - and I may yet get something like it - but it does seem to me that anything visible is a target.

Posted by
8025 posts

Backpacks and bum bags are a pickpockets dream. Pickers routinely take wallets and phones from. front pockets of people who think 'they will notice and stop them.' A Bandolier type phone carrier is like a cross body purse and in the metro or other very crowded place you treat it as one with your hand on the bag.

As to pickpockets not that skilled -- well not all of them but the pros yeah. I remember the time my husband put his hand in his front pocket on the metro and discovered a hand was already there; he had had no idea. we know many people who have had wallets stolen from front pockets or backpacks. we were once in a language class where two of our classmates had had wallets stolen from their backpacks in the same market the same morning; they were not together.

but nobody is cutting straps and it is fairly rare for an overt snatch to be made or anything approaching a mugging; this is a stealth operation. And they want cards, phones and money -- not cameras or passports (although obviously if someone is careless with a camera that might be taken -- but it is rarely a target). In really professional operations the credit cards can have thousands on it in an hour. We know someone who had their wallet picked at the Orsay and by the time they got back to the hotel, discovered it and reported it, there was over 20K in charges on it.

Our only successful pickpocket occurred in st. Petersburg where my husband had a credit and transit card picked from his front pocket on the bus (I worked for years to get him to not carry things like that but at least he wasn't carrying the whole wallet and lost only those two things). Within an hour our card company had allowed 3 7 or 8K financial transactions to go on the card; can't recall the exact product but it wasn't an object, it was like 7K gift cards or similar. This is a company with a hair trigger fraud system that often frustrates me in booking travel because any foreign transaction triggers fraud alerts and yet they let these obviously bogus transaction go through. I always assume there was corruption in the company itself. It took us the entire rest of the 10 week trip to get it sorted out. there are crime families, often from Eastern Europe who have this down to a science.

Posted by
496 posts

I use a PacSafe cross body bag and my phone is in the bag and bag in front of me.

Posted by
17801 posts

When I put it on the bar in front of me, I am careful to keep an eye on it; just like i do at home. In crowded tourist venues and public transportation I push it down deep in my front pocket (its a flip phone, so its small).

The last European city I was in has this new phone app transit pass system. But you have to pull your phone out to show the inspector the screen. Perfect opportunity for someone to grab it and run. I used the paper pass hanging on my key chain so I only have to pull out my room key to get on.

I do know one young lady that puts her's in a purse with a chain strap. That works too unless you hang your purse on the hook under the bar and then walk away without it.

EDIT, I have been corrected. Her phone was not in her purse. It was on the bar where she could see it and as a result did not forget it. The purse only contained her money and credit cards.

I also remember a young lady who was very cautious and kept her phone and all her money and documents in a bag with a wire strap around her neck. Sitting at a cafe in Rome a moped went by, the man reached out and grabbed the bag without slowing down. She was dragged by the neck about 20 feet before he let go. But she kept her phone. The new ones have a clasp that breaks before you get decapitated, but that sort of defeats the purpose.

I guess I like the steel fishing leader solution above. Tie one end to your skivvies (or elsewhere) the other to the phone. but has to be about 3 feet long to conveniently use the phone (especially if you are using it for a transit pass).

Posted by
17801 posts

What is more complicated is where to carry my passport?

The ideal solution? What every puts your mind at ease and does not distract from your enjoyment of the trip; while considering the hassle you will face if you lose it.

AND, should you ever hand your phone to someone and ask them to take your photo? NO!! Of course not!!! Get a selfie stick.

Posted by
696 posts

I like small cross body bags/purses rather than some of the larger styles. I carry the Baggallini Subway Cross Body Bag. Phone, passport and CC go in the zip next to my body. The very front zip carries absolutely nothing worth anyones’ time. The other zip pocket is sunglasses and other items not of interest. Bag goes in my lap at a table. Phone might come out, but goes back in. I often wrap the strap around my wrist/arm when seated. Carry it next to my body in crowded, tight spaces and usually have one hand on it for security.
Have travelled extensively and have never been targeted. Hope Paris visit is the same.

Posted by
2745 posts

Somehow, I survived another week in Paris, without tethering my phone to my body with a chain, without a locking purse or any other “security devices”. And I came home with my phone, with all my credit cards, but not all my money,( but I can’t blame a pickpocket for that problem.😂)

Posted by
812 posts

Sorry, I don't understand this issue with someone wanting to spend $10 to keep a phone safe.

I travel solo, and I have to drive 3+ hrs AFTER my trip to my house - so even if I could hang out in a city w/o a phone, I definitely would need one to navigate either NYC or Montreal to get back home. And let's not forget all the OTHER things on the phone, including your airline's app to check in, etc.

So YES, it's a PAIN to lose a phone overseas (just like a passport) and if we can do something to mitigate, so be it.

Frankly, I'm also a dropsy kind of person, so having my phone tethered to me while I'm on a Seine Cruise or a bridge or the Eiffel Tower or whatever, is another reason why I have no issue with this question. Smh.

Posted by
32197 posts

In less hazardous locations such as on hiking trails or walking about cities, my phone normally sits in an Otterbox clip on my belt. It's underneath my travel vest so isn't visible. If I'm in more crowded locations with more people such as crowded Metro cars or Buses, I place it in an inside secure pocket in my vest. In extreme cases, I might place it in my Money Belt.

I also carry a small Canon P&S camera and that's what I use if I want anyone to take a photo of me. It was purchased in 2008 so if it gets pinched, its' not a huge loss.

Posted by
4366 posts

No no no! Do not do this

When I put it on the bar in front of me, I am careful to keep an eye
on it; just like i do at home

Now the bad guys know you have a phone and they can watch until you input your PIN. And then they get your phone and they are off to the races because your phone (esp. an iPhone) has all kinds of personal and financial info either in it or accessible to it. Big article recently in the WSJ about this very thing, bars are a bad place to be flashing your phone.

Posted by
8025 posts

Never cease to be amazed at people who think they just need to 'watch' and 'be alert' -- a phone on a bar is so easy to grab. A computer bag set at your feet as you check in at a hotel is so easy to make off with as people think hotel lobbies are safe.

In crowded public spaces populated by professional thieves, it is important to be actually pickpocket proof. Things need to be stowed under your clothes or in an inside zipped pocket or be attached as a cross body bag etc. You will not notice the hand in your front pocket that you thought was so safe or that someone has rifled your backpack or casually draped purse.

Of course odds in any one day are good, but if you don't come from a place with skilled pickpockets you are naive to think being alert is enough. Americans are very vulnerable because it is not an American crime. (muggings yes, but artful pickpockets are rare.). Europe is safer for people, but riskier for stuff.