Does Using Your Phone In Public Make You A Target For Thieves?

You, like just about everyone else these days, probably rely a lot on your mobile phone. A phone now is not just where we keep our friends’ numbers and send the odd message from, but an indispensable device that lets us keep on top of work on the go, relax with games and apps, and access all of our favourite social networks and essential sites (as well as of course, the old school uses like actually calling people and texting them!).

One of the whole points of a mobile is you have it with you wherever you go, and in most cases (unless you are travelling through the back of beyond), it will grant you telephone signal and web access. However, with mobile phone thefts always being reported as being on the rise (as in this report from the Daily Mail), a lot of people are starting to feel that using their phones in public may make them a bigger target for thieves.

Do Thieves Watch For People With Good Phones?

In extremely public places, for example train stations, where pick pocketing can be a problem, it is possible that opportunist thieves do look out for people who are seen to be using the more valuable handsets, such as iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models. However, in most cases, because everyone these days has a phone, if you are dressed smartly for work a thief is going to just assume whatever you have got is going to be worth stealing.
The problem isn’t so much them seeing you use the phone and seeing what model you have, as them seeing where you put it away afterwards. While the phone is in your hand being typed on, or up against your ear, it is very unlikely (in a public place at least), that a thief is going to swoop over and grasp it from you. However if they see you finish using it and stuff it in a pocket of your laptop bag, handbag or coat that they think they can get it from without you feeling it, that is when you are making yourself a target.

What Kind of Advice Can You Take to Protect Yourself and Your Phone?

The Met Police actually offer some very good advice on avoiding becoming the victim of phone theft and other kinds of personal theft on the go, which is worth a read even if you don’t live or work in the London area. It is mainly focussed around being aware of where the valuable things you own are, and keeping a close eye on your surroundings rather than ‘zoning out’ as so many of us do when commuting or walking somewhere.
Personal theft, including phone theft, doesn’t just happen in places like Waterloo station, but just about everywhere from bars and coffee shops to university campuses and offices, so it does pay to have a little extra awareness when it comes to what is going on around you.

But What If My Phone Does Get Stolen?

The best things to do if you are worried about what you would do if your phone was stolen are these. First of all, make sure you have set up any built in security measures, like a pin code lock on your phone and additional security on any accounts (like your Facebook, Twitter and email accounts) that your phone tends to stay permanently logged in to. Secondly, make sure you have a comprehensive insurance policy for your phone, such as Protect Your Bubble Phone Insurance or insurance offered by your bank or phone service provider.
This will mean that if your phone is taken, you will be able to get a replacement fast and without a big, expensive kick. It tends to be better to go for this kind of specialist insurance rather than assuming your home contents insurance will cover a stolen phone, because while there usually is some coverage, it is often highly limited and so you will often need to fork out a fair amount of your own money to get a phone of the same calibre to replace your old one.
Equally, these kinds of insurance often cover against things like damage to the phone, which your home contents insurance probably will not, and also the theft of your phone when you are abroad.
Obviously prevention is better than cure and protecting yourself where you can against phone theft is crucial, however if you know you have yourself covered so you can a) get a replacement quickly and b) prevent any malicious people accessing your phone’s data, this is really the best position you can be in, rather than being afraid to use your mobile when you are out and about.

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Laura Ginn advises everyone who uses their phone in public to have a phone insurance policy in place.  This way you can rest assured that if the worst happens, you are covered.