Phone Theft at Music Festivals

Yup… phone theft at music festivals is a problem.

The Problem(s)

One of the problems is there are a lot of problems with phone theft at music festivals. But overall, it ends up being the consumer impacted the most. So we thought we’d try to outline the issues, add some suggestions, and (hopefully) reduce the impact of these a**holes. 

It's Common

Phone Theft at music festivals is terrifyingly familiar. When phones cost >$1,000, and 100,000 people will be carrying one around in the same place… the phrase “fish in a barrel” comes to mind. 

Phone theft at music festivals headlines

It's Professional

You might think my phone is useless without my passcode (fingerprint, face recognition, and so on). Unfortunately, many people still don’t use passcodes, and there’s a coordinated effort in trying to con you out of it once they have the device (more on that later).

shame gif from GoT

More commonly, the devices are moved internationally, frequently to Mexico or China, sold as parts, or wiped and used off the network. So that new $1,000 iPhone gets sold for ~$30… It doesn’t seem like buying a $400 ticket to a music festival to steal phones would be worth it, except when you can grab 100 phones (back of the napkin math = $2,600 profit), it looks pretty good. 

Multiple teams of pickpockets flock to festivals to steal your phone and whatever else they can get their hands on. It has unfortunately become big business and is only getting bigger.

You Don't Expect It.

Theft isn’t an experience you’re constantly tracking, so you aren’t out looking for it. Music festivals, in particular, assuming you’re paying to have a good time, lull you further away from vigilance. Additionally, many festivals attempt to maintain good vibes to avoid advertising that you might be at risk. 

Plus, 24/7 vigilance paired with alcohol (or possibly other vices… you crazy kids) can be pretty impossible.

Theft Tactics

So how do they pull it off? A little insight into some everyday situations can help you avoid them. 

the more you know about phone theft at music festivals
back pocket phone

Classic Pickpocket

Target: alone or a tiny group, intoxicated or distracted, easy access to the item (phone sticking halfway out of the pocket)

Side note: it’s messed up that typical girl clothing has smaller or no pockets.


  1. Walk behind the target & just pull the phone.
  2. Have a crew member engage and distract the target while they pull the phone.
  3. Bump into you to test the pull. 
phones recording a festival

Slap that Shiz

Target: mosh pitting or heavy crowd, phone out recording the set, the environment is crazy, or the crowd is surging.


  1. They slap it out of your hand, and a crewmate scavenges it from the ground.
backpack at a music festival

Slashing Bags

Target: backpack holders, the environment is crazy, or the crowd is surging, distracted or intoxicated.


  1. During tight crowds and loud sets, the thief uses a razor or knife to cut the straps or open the contents of the bag or backpack. Any valuables that fall out or the entire bag might go missing.

The Solution(s)-ish

While nothing is foolproof, it’s been shown that you’ll be less likely to be a victim if you’re not as easy of a target. The saying: “You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away. You have to run faster than the guy next to you.” But… for phone theft at music festivals.

Don't appear as an easy target.

Essentially, don’t make it look easy.

  • Keep items out of back pockets or easy-to-reach places. 
  • Carry less stuff. (you can’t lose what you don’t have)
  • Maintain a level head (watch those vices, you kids)
  • Use tight hugging bags to store stuff. My favorite: A Running Belt

Plan for an issue.

Have a fallback plan for if they try something. 

  • Attach your phone to your body… cough cough… Phone Leash
  • Back up your pictures and data just in case. 
  • Payment alternative. Apple and Google Pay can be a miracle if your wallet goes missing.
  • Leave backup items locked in a car or secure area, like a locker. (Don’t forget it, though)
  • Have Find My (Apple) or Find My Device (Google) set up. Don’t get scammed afterward if your phone is taken. 
scam phone theft
This is a friendly scam warning. Phone theft at Music Festivals is getting creative.

Ask the Festivals to try...

A shameless plug, but Liff Happens helps reduce phone theft at Music Festivals, like with our Protect phone registration & Property Tags, and we help attendees recover from all kinds of item loss. So it’s in your best interest (and ours) if you ask all the festivals you attended or plan on attending to use the Liff App.

Coachella Protect Wallpaper