A Word on Phone Theft at Music Festivals

by Hadley Schaffer // DJ Duckington

In my life, I have been to four music festivals. I attended one day of Music Midtown in 2014, one day of Shaky Knees in 2019, and the full weekend of Shaky Knees in 2021 and 2022. This year’s Shaky was the first time I had ever heard of a problem with phone theft, but apparently, it is a very common issue at these events.

My phone was stolen right out of my front pocket on the second day of the festival, and since then, I have spoken to dozens of people facing the same problem. When I asked security about it, they told me to talk to guest services, who told me that over 100 phones had been reported stolen over the course of the weekend.

Apparently, a big group of pickpockets were roaming around the festival before striking at well-calculated times. The biggest hits were reportedly at Amyl & The Sniffers and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: two of the largest and most intense crowds of the weekend. Mine was stolen just before these two, at The Regrettes.

With music festival tickets costing somewhere between 90 and 300 dollars, and the typical smartphone costing upwards of $1,000, it’s a pretty sure-fire way to make a profit, if you’re a scumbag.

Luckily, my insurance covered theft, and I was able to wipe my old phone and get a new one within a week of the incident, though it was still quite a headache. However, this issue runs much deeper than my problems alone.

When over 100 phones can be stolen at a single music festival, we are clearly doing something wrong as festival-goers. I thought wearing pants with zipper-pockets were enough to protect me, but clearly I was wrong, as somebody managed to unzip my pocket, take out my phone, and zip it back up, all without my noticing.

So what can we do?

The most obvious solution is just to keep a better eye on your belongings, but that can be tough when you’re trying to have as much fun as you can, especially if you’re a big fan of moshing like myself.

It may be a good idea to keep your phone zipped up in a bag, such as a hydration pack or fanny pack, hidden underneath less valuable belongings. However, this could be a dangerous game as well, since there have been stories of thieves cutting open the bottoms of bags and snatching whatever falls out.

The best solution I have stumbled across seems to be purchasing some type of phone lanyard you can attach to your body. They’re pretty cheap, and they look like they’d make a pickpocket’s job much more challenging.

The only thing I can say with 100% certainty is BE SURE TO BACK UP YOUR PHONE AND PURCHASE INSURANCE. I would undoubtedly be MUCH more upset by this situation had I lost all of my information and had to buy a whole new phone. Just be smart, keep an eye on your belongings, and realize that setting foot into a music festival with anything expensive is taking a risk.