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Six Ways to Protect Yourself from Phone Theft

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by Geri Silver (subscribe)
I'm a postgraduate Media and Communications student at City University London from the United States. Check out my blog at:
Published December 3rd 2012
No one wants to lose a phone
A recent article in the Evening Standard reported that 264 mobile phones are reported stolen in the UK every day. Although this a frightening statistic, there are a number of smart ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of this epidemic.

Photo: Jeremy Noble (wikimedia commons)

1) Be careful and alert when using your phone on busy streets.

One of the most popular ways in which phone thieves operate is to ride up to a curb or sidewalk on a bicycle, swiftly snatch a phone from someone's hands, and hop right back on and disappear from sight. It's hard to run after a moving vehicle on the street, so it often leaves victims little hope of catching the snatcher. To protect yourself from this situation, it's best to only use your phone on busy sidewalks with extreme caution. Don't walk on the side nearest to the street. However, some phone snatchers also take phones by foot, so keep a firm grip at all times just in case.

2) Don't leave your phone out at cafes and restaurants.

If you're sitting at a cafe, whether alone or with friends, try to keep your phone either in your hands or out of sight. Often thieves approach a table, distract customers with a question or by striking up a conversation, and it's not until they leave the restaurant that anyone notices a phone or two has been snatched from the table. By keeping your phone out of sight, thieves don't have the opportunity to sneakily grab your phone.

Be careful at restaurants, cafes, and bars.

3) Use purses and pockets that successfully hide and protect your phone.

If a phone can be clearly seen hanging out of a pocket or at the top of an open purse, it makes it easy for pickpockets to steal without you noticing. Be especially careful of this in crowded areas, like tourist spots and public transportation. Often thieves will 'bump into you', acting as part of the crowd, when really they take that opportunity to grab for your phone. If your purse has a zipper or your coat pocket has a button to close it, it's wise to do it and make your goods less accessible.

4) Try not to look clueless.

I know that sometimes, especially as a tourist, it's hard not to look clueless. But thieves often seek out victims who look distracted or unaware of their surroundings, making it easier for them to steal without getting caught. Always be on alert, especially in crowded areas, and you won't look like someone to be messed with.
Thieves are likely to target crowded events, like this one in Trafalgar Square

5) Don't let strangers borrow your phone.

Ever heard of the phrase "no good deed goes unpunished"? Sadly, this is true in many cases of phone theft. People have been approached by strangers on the street in seemingly honest situations, like a dead phone battery and needing to call home. When the phone exchanges hands, the stranger(s) disappear before you even realise what happened. If you're faced with a situation where you sincerely believe that someone needs to borrow your phone, I'd suggest going into a nearby cafe or store and offering to make the call yourself, never allowing them to take the phone from your hands.

6) Don't get drunk, go on a train alone, put your phone in your lap, and fall asleep.

I'm never one to blame a victim, but this is probably the most reliable way to wake up in the middle of nowhere with no phone.. Nothing about this situation is really going to help you... best to avoid it altogether. (Shout out to my friend Adam for setting an inspiring example for this one.)

Photo: Charles O'Rear (wikimedia commons)

To sum it up, staying aware that thieves might be around is the best way to protect yourself from becoming one of their victims. By making it difficult for them by keeping your phone out of sight and protected, you're greatly minimising your chance of having to deal with a stolen phone. It's also a wise move to regularly back up the information on your phone, just in case. But don't get freaked out or paranoid. City life should be enjoyed by you and your smart phone--just follow the few precautionary measures to keep it safe!
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