How to Protect your phone from pickpockets

From all the reading I've been doing, it appears that smartphones are a hot commodity for pickpockets. How does one (men and women) keep them secure. Last trip I used a hidden pocket to store my passport, cash and credit cards, but there's not enough room for a phone as well. Short of getting a second pocket, how does one ensure that the phone makes it home safe. FYI, I'm only using it as storage for guides, maps, GPS, facetiming, checking emails etc.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8729 posts

I kept mine in my regular purse, the same as if I was at home. I used it on the street all over Spain with no problem. I didn't use the metro or anything, so I was never in close crowds of people.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Never set it down on a restaurant table, ticket counter, etc. Stow it safely away when you are in those situations because it's easy to get distracted and forget that you have set it down.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3581 posts

Treat it much like you would a camera. Keep it in a secure purse, travel bag or backpack. One could probably keep it pretty safe in a front pocket, but pickpockets are very good at removing most items without you noticing, so that is by no means foolproof. What I mean by a "secure" purse or bag is that it cannot just be unzipped or opened without your notice. Some bags and purses are designed that way, or you can put a travel lock on the zipper of a regular bag.

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
260 posts

Carrying a purse, okay "a bag" is not an option for this guy :). Thanks for the suggestions. Need to come up with something else.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Hahaha! Good one, Warren. I don't know when you're traveling, but I fell in love with wearing a multi-hidden-pocket travel vest in April. First time I tried it and it was great! My iPhone went in one of the inner zipped pockets and it was completely secure and easy to stow/remove quickly. One brand is Scottevest, but there are others. Might be too warm, though, for the height of summer in some places. Another possibility might be some type of pants that have several zipper pockets. Here's one example that looks quite manly. :)

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
260 posts

I'll be travelling in August/September. I ended up getting some Kuhl travel pants with a bunch of zippered pockets, but of course, they are only zippered pockets, none hidden.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Still, with zippers so close on your body you won't be as easy a mark as others will be with open pockets, purses and daypacks. Pickpockets (like bears) are where they find you. It's not like there are exactly swarms. When I'm out in crowded public spaces I behave like I know what I'm doing and where I'm going, and no stranger ever gets close enough to me to be a threat. I plan ahead as best I can and don't put myself in potentially compromising situations. If I get stuck in one, my antenna goes up and I practice situational awareness until I can move aside from the pack. An advantage of living in NYC and moving every day through midtown Manhattan is that one learns the fine points of how to handle oneself in a crowd.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3134 posts

What about using neck wallet? Depending on the size of your phone, that might work. Wear it inside your shirt and pull out when needed.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
888 posts

I too just carried mine in my purse {or backpack or daypack - whatever you want to call it) with no problems. We traveled all over Europe for 30 days with NO issues, close calls nor did I ever feel uncomfortable at any time. Before we left, after reading these boards I was somewhat apprehensive - some folks here make Europe sound like its teeming with pickpockets, you'd better hide everything or strap it to your body or it'll be gone. Sure - some areas in some cities are prime target areas but for the most part its just like being in any big city. I used my phone a lot - especially for google maps - so it was out in my hand a lot. I also used it as a camera - I was more worried about dropping it into rivers or canals than having it stolen! Really need a strap! I carried cash, credit cards, rail pass & passports in my purse - no problems. We were always aware of our surroundings - I never walked with my purse exposed to the street - it was in between me & my husband. We brought a money belt but never used it. I guess I am trying to say be aware, be prudent but don't make yourself crazy or feel you need a bunch of "special" items to keep your belongings secure. Relax & have a great time!

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1750 posts

Just a quick mention...and maybe our friend just had really bad luck but when he was in Spain on the metro someone slashed his cargo pants pocket (one lower on the leg) and boom - there went his passport...he didn't even notice for a few hours that it just beware and be aware of where you put things. Some people think they are overkill, but we have a PacSafe Metrosafe 200 slings over the body and doesn't look like a 'purse' (it's a cross-body messenger type bag) so hubby doesn't mind carrying it since I'm wearing the camera. But for only one or two things it may be way to big for your purposes and they are heavier then a reg type bag, but I like the peace of mind, as well as the layout (we carry our map, maybe a small guidebook, money, wallet in crowded cities, passports, etc in it for the day.)

Posted by Karen
507 posts

I just put my camera and/or phone in a front pocket, preferably with a zipper, and keep a hand on it when I am in crowded areas. I have never had a problem doing that. In cooler weather, I wear a jacket with a front inside pocket and keep these items in that pocket. I feel best about that, but it doesn't work when it is warm.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

My phone is cheap and basic. If a pickpocket accidentally stole it, they'd probably stop me, hand it to me, and say I dropped it. If you have a $400+ phone, however, you may well become a target. I also pack an iPod touch for music, travel alarm, and the other uses you mention (but only when I have wifi).

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

I have a crossbody purse with a flap opening, and the underside of the flap has a zippered pouch. I put the phone there or in the zippered pouch closest to my body. No one is getting in either of those without me noticing, especially if I move it to the front of my body in crowded places. My husband carries a waist pack (ugh) or else our day pack, which is a small-ish backpack. Also, if it's cooler out, I have coats or jackets with inside pockets. I don't keep anything of value in my pants pockets or the outer pocket of my purse--maybe a tiny bit of money temporarily, but nothing I'd be lost without.

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
908 posts

1. Second hidden pocket, if it is an expensive phone. I keep my hidden pocket right under my front pants pocket, so I never notice. I really like the hidden pocket.
2. Buy/bring a cheaper model and keep it in a shirt pocket. I was in London/ Ireland a few weeks ago and brought my unlocked privately purchased Iphone 4 and did not worry about it. I used it for all of my trip data, maps, GPS, Wi-Fi, etc. and bought a local SIM card for calls and data. It worked great.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24148 posts

Warren, In many cases I carry my iPhone in an OtterBox belt holder, but it's hidden behind my Vest so not really visible. In "high risk" locations such as the Metro, I place it in one pocket of the Vest that's secured by both a zipper and very tough Velcro. It's on the same side as my Wallet, so my arm is always resting on the pocket. The clothing I use has many hidden pockets, so there's always somewhere to carry it that's "out of sight". I rarely use it in public places except for restaurants and indoor locations. So far this method has worked for me, but I always try to be vigilant. I'm in Spain at the moment, and the risk seems to be a bit higher here than Italy, but so far no problems. Happy travels!

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Don't most people just stick the sucker in a pocket and not worry about it?

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
1210 posts

Ok, I guess I'm a travel dork, but I wear a fanny pack! I love it, it sits in front, straps go through my pant belt loops and I safety pin the zipper closed. Can't get too much more secure and I'm hands free. It holds my video and still camera, and iPhone. Yes, I stand out as a tourist, but would anyway, even without it. I also wear my money belt and take my civita bag for sweaters, water etc. Yes, others get away with no money belt, holding a purse with passports/money inside and don't have any problems, but it doesn't take much to keep things secure. And, it only takes one bad time to ruin an expensive trip.

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
260 posts

Thanks for all the ideas. I'm still trying to come up with something that works for me. I'm expecting the weather to be fairly good for most of the trip, Aug 12-Sep 9, so I don't see wearing a jacket much. My travel pants have numerous pockets, some with zippers, some with velcro flaps. I keep my passport, credit card etc in a moneybelt/hidden pocket thing that hangs from my belt inside my pants. I keep a travelling wallet in my front pocket. My iphone usually resides in a zippered pocket lower on my leg, with the identifying bulge. I'm now thinking of getting a case for it with a lanyard attached and maybe somehow attaching this to my belt while the phone sits in an upper pocket, or even hanging the phone off the lanyard around my neck, underneath my shirt. I know I'm making a big deal out of something kinda trivial, but if I can figure out something with two layers of security, like a zippered pocket and a velcro flap, or maybe the lanyard thingy, I'll be okay. Even if I can't, I kinda like the lanyard idea cause I'm always afraid of dropping my darn phone. A wrist strap would be nice.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

This is a bit dorky, but what about one of those sports armbands that are worn on the upper arm? Google 'iphone sports armband' to see what I'm talking about.

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
260 posts

Didn't realize you could get tshirts and polo's with pockets for iPhones. Scottevest has some. This may be the way I go.

Posted by DW
Bothell, WA, USA
206 posts

One option is a messenger bag. Another is a front pocket (with velcro at the top). Good luck!

Posted by Rose
922 posts

I saw something different at REI the other day - a shirt with a short covered zipper in the upper arm. It opened a pocket into which my iPhone fit perfectly. Probably meant for runners or bicyclists, but I liked the idea.

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
260 posts

I ended up ordering a few T-shirts with the iphone pocket from Scottevest. I'm hoping this will be win-win situation. Phone would be handy, phone would be secure (like how un-attentive would one have to be lose a phone stored inches from your face) and my pants are now lighter.

Posted by Carole
Edmond, OK
98 posts

How about taking an old-fashioned safety pin and pinning the pants pocket that holds your phone. The flap should conceal the pin. Yes, it will take a minute to remove the phone but it isn't difficult and a pickpocket certainly could not do it without your knowledge. I'm all for simple low-tech solutions.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5687 posts

My messenger bag/satchel, that I wear cross-body, has a flap that comes down over the front and fastens at the bottom. My iphone is in one of the inside pockets. This is where I carry it all the time, and while traveling, would do the same.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
1114 posts

What Ed said. While being prudent and aware of your surroundings, methinks we obsess much about pickpockets.

Posted by Andy
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
1 posts

Perhaps a cheap, hard plastic case with a thin metal cord attached with glue in the back. Attach the other end to your inner pocket with a safety pin or something and you'll be set. you'll just have to pop it out of the case if you're bringing it farther away from your body than mid-waist. At the very least you'll feel it tugging if someone's got their hands on it.