How to Keep your Valuables Safe at Music Festivals

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How to keep your valuables safe at music festivals

So, festival season in the UK is well and truly upon us and it’s time to have that last minute packing panic! It’s common to worry about losing your valuables to theives, the mud or through drunken antics.

Fortunately, theft is very rare at festivals; out of the tens of thousands of people who attend, only a handful will fall victim to theft. However, opportunists are everywhere and as a festival-goer you should make it as hard as possible for those opportunists to get to you. Here are our tips & tricks on how to keep your valuables safe at music festivals.

Do you absolutely have to bring it?

Seriously, if you’re worried about something getting lost, stolen or broken and it really means that much to you then just leave it at home. Wearing your best clothes or favourite jewellery is not going to make your festival experience any better so, ask yourself: would I be heartbroken if I lost this?

If the answer is yes – then leave it safely at home.

Lock it away in your car

This comes with an obvious caution – a festival car park is just another field, clearly not the most secure place ever. If you keep valuables in your car, things such as a Sat-Nav, other electronics or valuables, make sure they’re locked away and well out of sight.

It’s also a good idea to take a picture of a sign or landmark near to where you’ve parked – all those fields look the same and after 5 days of festival fun, you’re bound to forget!

But, what if leaving it at home or in your car is not an option?

You’re going to need somewhere to keep your keys, you’ll need cash for the festival, probably a phone or camera, and you may need to bring your driving license or ID if you have a young face and plan on drinking. Obviously, you don’t want to lose any of these important items and it could ruin your festival if this was to happen.

So, what can you do to keep your valuables safe?

Use a locker

Most large commercial festivals in the UK and Europe will provide a locker for you to store your items. In most cases, the lockers are actually tiny (large enough for a passport, car keys and credit cards) and you have to pay a fee to use them. These lockers are in an area which is manned 24-hours per day and only staff have access to the lockers. You drop off your valuables on the first day and collect them when you leave.

Glastonbury is pretty unique and they have a much better system. They offer a completely free lockup service, where you can make a voluntary donation to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who operate the various lockups around the Glastonbury site.

These are absolutely great as they accept any sized item, whether it’s an iPad, a pair of boots or even a bicycle, they will look after it for you. They’re also great because you can leave a bag of warm clothes in a lockup, go off partying to the South East Corner until the early hours, collect your clothes and stay nice and cosy for the sunrise at the Stone Circle – how convenient!

How to deter tent thieves

Tent theft is actually really rare at music festivals, most people who attend festivals are genuine music-lovers who just want to have fun. But it does happen, opportunists are everywhere and it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant and take certain precautions to prevent someone from spoiling your fun.

It’s not recommended to leave cash or valuable items unattended inside your tent. It’s much safer to keep them on your person. Putting a padlock on the outside of your tent zips is also not a good idea – it tells any potential thieves that there may be something worth stealing inside, or invite tent slashers to ruin your festival even more. Seriously, don’t bother with a padlock.

Keep your valuables safe at music festivals - Boomtown - Tents
Downtown in Boomtown Fair 2015, before the sun came out

Don’t make it easy!

Leave your tent in a complete mess. If everything is organised and arranged then it will be much easier for a thief to swipe a bag and run. You should empty your clothes all over the place, throw your things around the tent so that there is nothing obvious to steal at first glance.

But – you’ll have to retreat to your tent at some point to sleep off all the fun you’ve been having, so you can feel refreshed and ready for the next day of drinking and dancing!

Here are some tips for what to do with your valuables when you want to sleep:

Spread everything out

Especially your cash. If you have say, £200 in cash – put 4 lots of £50 in different places, e.g. £50 in your wash bag, £50 in your sock, £50 in your pillowcase and £50 in a bag of dirty clothes. That way, if the unthinkable does happen, you’ll have minimised your losses and still have enough cash for the rest of the festival.

Don’t be complacent

Seriously, we’ve met people at festivals who have gone back to their tent in a drunken state, taken their trousers off and passed out. When they wake up in the morning, their trousers are missing and, you’ve guessed it – their phone, ID and money were all in the trouser pocket. These people have unfortunately lost all of their valuables in one single swipe. They may even find the trousers dumped somewhere a few metres away, with all the important items missing.

If these people would just pull themselves together for a few minutes, empty their pockets and put their money and valuables away safely, this wouldn’t have happened.

The same goes for backpacks or handbags – empty them before you go to sleep. A full bag is very attractive to a thief, especially if you’ve left it just inside the door of your tent!

“Sorry! Wrong tent!”

This actually happens a lot, maybe it’s a genuine mistake, but who knows. Imagine being asleep in your tent and being woken up by a stranger trying to climb inside. Terrifying? Definitely. If the person inside the tent wakes up, the intruder will likely say something like “Sorry, wrong tent!” before moving on to another potential victim.

Not an impossible scenario, lots of people in a festival will have the same or very similar looking tents. If the local Halfords have a half price sale on tents the week leading up to a Festival, you can guarantee that thousands of festival-goers will have the exact same tent.

How to keep valuables safe at a music festival - Glastonbury 2016, tents
Glastonbury Festival 2016, much tents – many the same

Keep a torch close to you when you sleep, be prepared to grab it and shine it in the intruder’s face. Wrong tent or not – thieving isn’t the only safety issue here and it’s not worth taking any chances.

You could jazz-up your tent; get a flag or tie some bunting to the outside guy lines to help identify your tent. This would only be for your benefit – decorations could get pinched too. It may deter the genuinely lost people who can’t find their tent, but it wouldn’t stop a horrendously wasted person or determined thief.

Make friends with your neighbours

When you first arrive and you’re setting up your tent, introduce yourself to the other people camping around you and make friends with them. Meeting new people is part of the fun of going to music festivals, but it’s also helpful for security. If you spot an unfamiliar person near your neighbour’s tents when they’re out, ask if they’re looking for them (use their name) and gauge their reaction. If they’re not supposed to be there then by asking a friendly question, you’re letting them know that you’re suspicious – your tent neighbours can do the same for you.

Get creative

One solution to stop unwanted tent-invaders is to attach something noisy to the zips on the inside of your tent door – the most common being a few empty beer cans attached to some string (through the ring-pulls). The string is then attached to the inside zip and it acts as a makeshift intruder alarm; it should make a loud enough noise to wake you or deter an intruder.

If you’re sharing a tent, this could get annoying if you or your tent-mate need a late-night visit to the toilets.

I’ve also heard of people tying the two zips of their tent door together using a luggage lock or something similar, so if someone tries to open the door from the outside, the zips will move together and won’t open the tent.

We’ve never done this as we don’t see the need, it wouldn’t stop a tent-slasher and if you had to leave your tent in an emergency, then the makeshift lock would slow you down.

Read more tent security tips for music festivals

Keep your valuables safe at music festivals - festival jail
Where thieves belong

Other ways to protect your valuables

It’s easy to lose things when you’re out and about, enjoying yourself at a festival. If you happen to lose your phone then, there’s a chance you’ll be able to get it back at the festival!

Change your phone’s lock screen

You increase the chances of finding your lost pone if you put your friends’ contact details as your wallpaper on your phone’s lock screen.

Open a new note, type something like “[Your name]’s phone, at Glastonbury Festival with [your friend’s name]. If you find this phone please call [friend’s number].” Take a screenshot and set this as your lock screen, hopefully if someone finds it, they will do the right thing.

Get insured

If it means that much to you, or it’s that valuable and you haven’t left it at home, then you need insurance. In some cases, your existing home insurance policy covers certain things – so double check!

Report all incidents to the police

If you are a victim of theft, or any crime whilst at a festival then it’s important to report it. All licensed events in the UK will have security personnel and probably real police too. If you’re insured against theft and want to claim, you’ll need a crime reference number before you can make a claim.

It goes without saying but we’re going to say it anyway – if you find something which someone has clearly lost – do the right thing and get it back to its owner if possible, or hand it in to police.

Check the festival’s lost property policy

The festival will likely have a lost property policy, many items are recovered and returned to their owners. Visit their website, send them an email or ask them on social media. Sometimes, they use a separate company to manage lost property, it’s different for every festival.

Have we missed anything? Do you have any other tips or tricks on how to keep your valuables safe at music festivals? Leave a comment below to join the conversation – we’d love to hear from you!

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