What to do is your phone is stolen on holiday

What to Do if Your Phone is Stolen Abroad

Posted by

Last updated January 17, 2024

1 in 5 People Fall Victim to Device Theft on Vacation

Have you had your phone stolen on vacation? Ever felt into your pocket or back in a bar or restaurant to find that your phone isn’t there? Perhaps you have fallen asleep on the beach only to wake with your cell phone nowhere to be seen?

Millions of us go on vacation every year without giving a second thought about how to avoid losing our phones whilst we’re in a different country. Few people know exactly what to do if they unfortunately fall victim to cell phone crime whilst abroad.

“SellCell.com’s research has found that almost $96 billion worth of cell phones have been lost or stolen whilst Americans are on vacation.

The research revealed that 132,988,509 American owned devices had gone missing whilst on vacation across their lifetime.”

On vacation we tend to relax and let our guards down, making it easier for pickpockets to find an unattended cell phone and walk away without the owner even noticing. If you do lose your cell phone on vacation, language barriers can make it harder to get our prized possession back, but there are several things you can do to maximize your chances of being reunited with it, whilst also protecting the valuable information stored on your cell phone.

If you do fall victim to cell phone theft it is crucial to act as fast as possible to secure all of your private information.

Phone stolen from backpack

Urgent Steps if Your Phone Has Been Stolen Abroad

As soon as you suspect your phone has been lost or stolen, find a friend who is willing to let you use their phone. Alternatively, find another device, like a laptop, to take the necessary actions to keep your cell phone as safe as possible.

Use this other device to log in to your cloud accounts and freeze bank cards, change passwords, and erase all data. Being able to log on to your cloud account on another device as soon as you can is the quickest way to protect all of your personal data.

It’s also important to know which people to contact as soon as possible – your bank, insurance provider and network company can all also help keep your information safe if your phone falls into the wrong hands.

Filing a police report is essential for insurance purposes and to have proof and official documentation of the event.

Turning on the lost mode feature will display contact information on the homescreen in the slim chance of the phone landing in safe hands. Keeping the location turned on will also make it easier to find the device if there is still a chance of tracking it down.

Lost Phone Mode
Ref: Apple.com

Likely, getting your phone stolen is going to ruin your vacation. Not only is it a nuisance to get everything erased and reported to the police, a lot of important documentation is stored on our phones that is necessary for vacations.

Things like boarding passes for the plane home, digital hotel room keys, contact information for villas, travel insurance documents and important emails regarding your trip, are often all kept on your phone and usually not backed up.

If your cell phone is stolen or does get lost, it can be hard to overcome the likely reality that the possibilities of having your device returned is slim – but it’s important to act as fact as possible to take the necessary steps to protect all of your personal data and maximize the likelihood of getting your cell phone safely back.

Research Findings

SellCell.com conducted a survey of 1000+ people to find out how many people had had their phone ‘lost’ or ‘stolen’ abroad. The data revealed some interested statistics about phone theft whilst on vacation.

How Many People Have their Phone Stolen on Vacation?

Reserach shows the percentage of phones that are lost or stolen on vacation

The data revealed that almost a quarter of Americans have had their phone stolen whilst on vacation, and a further 23% had reportedly lost their cell phones abroad.

Out of those who had their phone stolen whilst on vacation, the majority were males (13%), and 9% were females.

Males were also the majority sex who lost their cell phones when on vacation (14%), and females were less likely to misplace their devices (10%).

According to the survey, despite high numbers of thefts and losses, 77% of people fail to buy insurance for their devices – meaning they will not receive any payouts if their device goes missing.

Do Holiday Makers Invest in Gadget/ Phone Insurance?

Do you usually get gadget/ phone insurance out on holiday?

It is surprising that just 23% of Americans purchase gadget/phone insurance before going on vacation, as so many people put their devices in vulnerable situations.

Bringing your cell phone on a night out gives pickpockets an ideal opportunity to steal the device, as the cell phone owner is likely to be less alert and concentrating on where their phone is.

Only 7% of Americans keep their phone safely inside their accommodation, whereas 93% take their cellphone on a night out, likely increasing their chances of having it stolen.

What do I do if My Phone is Stolen?

Phone lost by the pool

If you do fall victim to having your phone stolen, or end up losing it whilst on vacation, you need to act fast to maximize the chances of getting it back and protecting your data.

Losing your cell phone abroad will no doubt ruin your trip, and it’s hard not to get upset and stressed by the events. But it is crucial to take all the necessary steps as soon as possible to be able to shield your personal information from thieves, as well as informing the right people to increase your chances of finding your cell phone.

Use a friend’s phone or another device to log in to your cloud accounts and be able to take the right steps to look after all your data.

Steps To Take if your Phone Has Been Stolen on Holiday

1. Cancel everything important and freeze your credit cards

Many of us have Apple or Google pay connected to our bank cards, so one of the first things you should do is cancel or freeze all of your credit/debit cards. If you can log in to social media and any shopping apps which have your pre-saved credit card information from another device, change all of the passwords to protect your money, and private information. Tell your bank that your phone has been stolen as soon as you can to prevent any thieves from spending your money.

2. Keep the location turned on to track it down

When accessing your phone details from another device (such as logging in to iCloud accounts), do not turn off the ‘find my phone’ features. There may still be a chance that your cell phone could still be found using this feature, so long as the thief hasn’t turned the device off. Before going away on vacation it’s a good idea to keep the GPS location turned on to make it easier to track down the device in the event of it getting stolen or lost.

3. Use another device to mark the phone as lost

Smartphones have a feature which allows the user to remotely mark their phone as lost. By logging in to cloud accounts, this ‘lost mode’ feature will then lock the device and display contact information on the homescreen in the chances of getting it returned to the owner.

4. Wipe the phone to protect your data

It’s crucial to wipe all of your personal data from your cell phone, so no one can access any private information if the device falls into the wrong hands. Although this means that nothing that hasn’t been backed up will be recovered, it’s best to erase everything so none of your data can be accessed, hacked, or used against you. Log on to the account from another device and select the ‘erase phone’ option to wipe everything.

5. File a police report for proof

Tell the local police as soon as possible if you suspect your phone has been stolen. Filing an official report in the country you’re vacationing in will provide you with the proof that is needed when claiming for insurance purposes, or when disputing any bank charges that weren’t made by you. Although it is unlikely the device will be found and returned, it’s a good idea to file a police report to have documentation as proof.

6. Tell your network provider

Reporting your device as stolen to your network provider means they will be able to disable your account. This means that no calls or texts can be made or received to the phone, as well as any data usage. Some contacts and providers may have terms where a temporary replacement cell phone can be provided.

7. Inform your travel insurance

Let your travel insurance know that your phone has been stolen whilst on vacation. As soon as you have documentation from the police report it is a good idea to present this to the insurance company as proof. Some insurance companies will cover cell phone theft even if you haven’t taken out specific device insurance, so it’s worth checking what your excess is and what you can claim back.


  • 91% of Americans own a smartphone – 307,843,770 (Source)
  • 20.2% have had their phone stolen on vacation – 62,184,442
  • 23% have lost their phone on vacation – 70,804,067
  • Total sum of phones stolen or lost on vacation – 132,988,509
  • Average price of a smartphone (US, 2023) – $718.28 (Source)
  • Average price of phone multiplied by number of devices stolen/lost (ie. 718.28 x 132,988,509) = $95,522,986,244.52