Italian police worked in cooperation with the Alitalia air carrier to catch bag handlers stealing cell phones from passenger’s bags. Petty crime is common in southern Italy, especially Rome. The lessons learned from this story are universal.
Never leave your Smartphone, laptop, or similar devices unattended. In fact, you should consider leaving it at home for long-term visits and simply buy or rent a phone while you’re traveling. If your Smartphone is stolen, contact your service provider as soon as possible and ask them to shut it down.
Since most people manage their personal lives on their Smartphone, this is a big vulnerability. Most likely, your personal email, banking information, pictures (hopefully not those party pictures), social media accounts, apps that access your bank, all of your contacts, and other information useful to a criminal are on that Smartphone. You may even have your home address set up in your GPS. Think about it.
The problem is amplified if it’s a company or business-related Smartphone that might contain proprietary information. This could get you into big trouble with the company.
Still, if you feel the need to take your phone with you, be sure to write down the equipment ID number of your Smartphone. If you have a “world phone” with a SIM card in it, be sure to write down that number too. Cell service providers offer “location services” but in a scenario like this, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see the smartphone again.
For more than 25 years, Steve was an intelligence community professional who traveled and lived throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America. He now uses his experiences and formal training to help people overcome their reluctance to travel by giving them the solid, reliable information they can use to plan effectively, reduce risk, react to danger, and return home safe.