Two weeks ago, approximately 95,000 festival goers flocked to Insomniac’s EDC Orlando each day to experience music, carnival rides, and of course, PLUR vibes. The energy was once again disrupted by pickpocketers and cell phone thieves working in groups, targeting distracted individuals. It’s disturbing, but the harsh truth is: pickpocketing at festivals is getting worse.
Orlando Police Department arrested 3 people with a backpack full of phones. Last month, over 100 phones were found during Insomniac’s Escape Halloween in Southern California after sleuthing friends chased down thieves in possession of large garbage bags. We must protect ourselves and our fellow ravers from these pickpocketers targeting large concerts and festivals.
You can’t steal what can’t be stolen. Carry only what you need and limit the amount of possessions on your body. To limit the number of credit cards in hand, utilize Apple Pay if you have an iPhone. If needed, rent out lockers onsite to keep your wallet or other items safe. This may be a no-brainer, but be sure Find My (Apple) or Find My Device (Google) is set up and your location is shared with your friends before the festival. As always, never disclose any passwords or other personal information that could be stored on your phone.
It’s smart to invest in a retractable phone/wallet leash or even a Lunchbox Pack which has an anti-theft design. Enjoy yourself, but beware of distractions and stay alert, especially when moving in trains through large crowds in between sets. Small belt bags/fanny packs to wear in front of your chest are also great, so your belongings are kept close to you and within your vision.
If you find a phone
If you find someone’s phone, first see if it’s unlocked and contact someone on the phone. Typically after someone loses their phone, someone is texting or calling it, so be sure to answer if you can. If you’re unable to get a hold of someone after some time or there is no service, take it to lost & found. Before doing so, do a good deed and film a few videos on their phone to capture the experience! It may also be beneficial to take a picture of their lock screen to post on social media such as the festival Facebook group, Twitter, or TikTok using appropriate hashtags such as the event name, so the owner can track it down.
If your phone gets stolen
If you or someone in your group’s phone ends up getting snatched, try not to panic and try not to let it ruin the entire weekend. After all, it is just a phone, but it is completely understandable to be upset and worry about any information that could potentially get hacked. Make sure you check all your bags and pockets to ensure you didn’t just misplace it. It could be helpful to retrace your steps, but I wouldn’t spend too much time doing it. Enjoy the festival as much as you can and have your friends take videos and pictures for you. Hit up the onsite lost & found and if you don’t have any luck, leave your name & a phone number of someone in your group. Some festivals, including Insomniac, have a digital lost and found on their website as well. Check back up each day to see if it has been returned. Track it as soon as you can and if it is moving and/or is far away, it may be a good idea to swipe it clean if you believe the thief can unlock your phone to access sensitive information. You can also report it to the county police and keep an eye out on social media if there have been any phones collected. Stay present and stay hopeful!
As frustrating as pickpocketing is, it’s a reality we must face. If you see something, say something! Look out for yourself and others. We come to rave, not to rob.