Tent Security Tips for Music Festivals: Dos and Don’ts

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Tent Security Tips for Music Festivals: Dos and Don'ts

So, you’re worried about tent security at music festivals? I don’t blame you! Tents are not exactly the most secure structure to keep your worldly possessions inside. That being said, general crime at UK music festivals is very low.

In a music festival of 20,000 festival-goers, there’s likely only going to be a handful of tent break-ins or thefts reported. You should take the same precautions with your valuables as you would anywhere else. Festivals may be safe places, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to look after yourself!

Fortunately, theft is very rare at festivals; out of the tens of thousands of people who attend, only a very unlucky few will fall victim to theft. Opportunists exist everywhere and as a festival-goer, you should make it difficult for these opportunists.

Festivals have a sort-of holiday vibe about them, people naturally have their guards down – this is an ideal environment for opportunist thieves. Don’t make it easy for them to strike by taking certain precautions to protect yourself from becoming a victim of crime at a music festival.

If you’re asking yourself questions like:

  • Where shall I keep my money and ID when I’m sleeping in my tent?
  • Is it safe to leave my stuff inside the tent unattended?
  • Should I lock my tent with a travel padlock?
  • What do I do if someone tries to come into my tent?

…then this article is written for you! We hope that your question is answered here but, if not, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you asap!

No one wants to have their weekend ruined – you’ve probably worked hard to save and have looked forward to this for ages! So, take these tips seriously and you’ll be just fine!

Tent security tips for music festivals
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Can you Leave it at Home?

The first thing you should ask yourself before packing any valuable item is:

Do I absolutely have to bring this? Can I leave it at home? What are the consequences of not having it for 5 days vs not having it forever?

As we’re talking valuables here, things like jewellery, mobile phones, cameras or other electronics, there is always a risk that these could get damaged at a festival too!

If it really means that much to you then just leave it at home. Wearing your nicest clothes or favourite jewellery is not going to make your experience any more enjoyable. Besides, festivals are not about material possessions and having all the things.

The safest place to leave things is at home.

Locking Things in the Car

If you’re driving to the music festival, you can always keep things locked safely away in your car. There’s an obvious problem though – a festival car park is just another field. Although there may be security stationed nearby, parking your car in a field full of other cars isn’t the most secure place in the world.

If you decide to keep valuables in your car, use common sense and keep them locked away and out of plain sight.

There’s another clear flaw with this idea: festival car parks are far away. It’s unlikely that your car will be parked a 5-minute stroll down the path. To access your car, you’ll probably have to go to the gate, make your way out, remember where you parked your car, get to your car (which could be miles), retrieve your item then make your way all the back inside. This could easily take 2 hours, depending on the festival.

Pro tip: take a photo of a nearby landmark in the car park so you can easily locate your car when you need to!

Use a Locker Provided by the Festival

Almost all British music festivals will have a locker service available. Be aware though, these lockers are tiny, and expensive! They’re usually about the right size to keep a passport, some credit cards, and a phone but not much else. Sometimes there are laptop-sized slim lockers too.

This is the safest option. The lockers are manned 24-hours daily and only staff have access. You can drop your valuables off and collect them as needed.

Glastonbury is pretty unique and they have a much better system for lockers. They offer a completely FREE lockup service,  but they accept voluntary donations to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who operate the lockups at Glastonbury.

Property Lockup Glastonbury 2019
Free property lock up at Glastonbury 2019

They also accept any sized item, literally! 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 dancing all night until the early hours, collect your dry clothes and stay nice and cosy for the sunrise at the Stone Circle – how convenient!

People also use these to store luggage carriers and trolleys so they don’t have the stumble over these bulky items in their tents.

Make Friends with your Tent Neighbours

When you’re getting set up, make a point to introduce yourself to your tent neighbours. That is – the people setting up their camps immediately around you. Not only do you get to meet new people, but there’s an element of security. People come and go from their tents a lot during the day and night – if people around you recognise you and see someone unfamiliar entering your tent, they’re more likely to be questioned, stopped, or scared away entirely.

You can have a mutual agreement with your tent neighbours to protect each other and help each other stay safe.

Music festival crowd
Most of these people are genuine music fans – can you spot the opportunist?

Stopping Tent Thieves

Remember that most people who attend music festivals are genuine music-lovers who just want to have a good time. Occasionally, some arsehole will ruin that for someone else. Do not let this happen.

You should never leave valuables unattended in your tent at any time. It’s much safer to keep them on your person, in your pocket, in a bag or in your bumbag at all times.

Here are some practical tips for deterring tent thieves during music festivals:

Don’t Bother with a Padlock

A padlock on a zipped-up tent is not going to stop a thief. In fact, a locked tent looks more appealing to an opportunist thief.

“What could be inside that tent that warrants a padlock, hmmm? Let’s find out!”

A simple pair of scissors or a penknife is enough for someone to gain access to your tent. That is why padlocks are a bad idea!

Leave your Tent in a Mess

Leave it in a complete mess. If everything is nicely arranged then it will be so much easier for a thief to quickly swipe a bag and run.

Empty your bag out and throw your clothes around, unroll and unfold everything and leave it looking like a messy student’s bedroom! That way, it’s difficult for a thief to find anything. A tent thief wants to be quick, so a messy tent means a difficult steal.

It may be difficult, especially if you’re a neat-freak, but it’s better than having someone else ransack your tent so you may as well do it yourself!

Valuables and Sleeping

It’s so common for people to stumble into their tents, drunk and the rest, unbuckle their bumbag by the door and pass out inside. That’s easy pickings for a thief. A bumbag likely has money and a mobile phone, and it was left right next to the tent’s door, all they have to do is slide their hand inside and the passed out owner is oblivious until the morning.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Here are some ideas for what to do to protect yourself and your valuables when you’re sleeping in your tent at a festival:

Spread Everything Out

Don’t keep all your valuables in the same place.

For example, if you have £100, put 4 lots of £25 in various places around your tent. Maybe £25 in your wash bag, £25 in your pocket, £25 inside a pillowcase, etc. That way, if a thief does strike, it’s unlikely they will find everything,

Make a Tent Alarm from Empty Beer Cans

One creative solution to stop tent-invaders when you’re asleep is to attach something noisy to the zips on the inside of your tent door. Keep a few empty beer cans with the ring-pulls still attached. Then, tie some string through all the ring-pull holes and through the two inner tent zips. So, if someone tries to break-in, the noise of the cans rattling together will wake you and deter the thief!

If you’re sharing a tent with someone else, this could get really annoying, really fast, if you or your tent-mate needs a late-night visit to the toilets.

Zip Tie and Tent Zips

Some people fix a zip tie to the inside of their tent door for security. So if someone tries to open the zips from the outside, they can’t because the two zips are fixed together inside. You need a knife or scissors to undo the lock the following morning. This is essentially locking yourself inside your nylon tent.

This probably wouldn’t stop a determined tent-slasher. Also, if you had to leave your tent in an emergency such as a fire, then the makeshift lock would slow you down.

“Sorry! Wrong tent!”

This actually happens a lot like a genuine mistake. Imagine being asleep in your tent and being woken up by someone trying to get inside. Frightening? Definitely. If the unsuspecting victim wakes up, the intruder will say something like “Sorry mate, wrong tent!” before moving on to another tent and another potential victim.

Of course, this isn’t impossible. Lots of people at a festival will have the exact same or indeed very similar looking tents. If Tesco have a half-price blue tents the week leading up to a Festival, you can guarantee that thousands of festival-goers will have the exact same half-price blue tent.

Keep a torch next to your head when you’re sleeping so you have it ready to shine in the face of any intruders! Theft isn’t the only potential crime that could be committed by a tent intruder and someone inside the tent, so stay vigilant. You’re surrounded by people – scream if you must.

So many tents look the same or very similar at British music festivals, try to put something unique on yours to help you identify it and make it clear to others at the same time

You could spruce your tent up with decorations and other novelty items if you’re that way inclined. Flags and bunting are fun to decorate your tent with, but decorations are easy to steal as well!

A festival full of tents
Dude, where’s my tent? Glastonbury, 2015

Diversion Safes

A diversion safe is an ordinary everyday item that has a secret compartment used to conceal cash or other small valuables. They’re typically disguised as a deodorant can, hairbrush or another non-descript item.

Amazon sells plenty of these. Hopefully there are no would-be thieves are reading this page!

Don’t get Complacent

Remember how people let their guard down at festivals because they’re basically on holiday for a few days? Well it’s very easy to get complacent after a few days of fun.

Seriously, we’ve encountered people at music festivals who have stumbled back to their tent in a very drunken state, taken their trousers off and passed out within minutes. When they wake up in the morning, their trousers are gone, along with their phone, ID and cash that were all in the pocket. One single swipe and everything important is gone.

They later found the trousers discarded next to a bin about 30 meters away.

All you have to do is find a moment for clarity before going to sleep.

Where’s my phone? Check. Gather my cash, put it somewhere safe. Check.

The same goes for bumbags or backpacks – empty them out before you go to sleep. A bag is very attractive to a thief.

Other Things you can do to Stay Safe

It’s easy to lose things when you’re out and about enjoying yourself at a festival, not just the risk of theft. 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 may just increase the chances of finding your lost phone 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 Reading 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, so hopefully, if someone finds it, they will do the right thing.

Get Insurance

If your phone or gadget means that much to you, then you need insurance that covers theft, loss and accidental damage.

Check Lost Property

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

What to do if you are Robbed at a Festival

If you are unlucky enough to become a victim of theft, or any crime whilst at a festival then it’s important to report it.

Report the incident to festival security or the police.

Police at Glasto phone holder
Police at Glastonbury gave out these phone holders – not a great deterrent but ok.

What have we missed here? Do you have any other tips or tricks on how to keep your cash, valuables or yourself safe at music festivals? Drop a comment below!

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