Heading out to celebrate Pride? Be sure to secure your phone.

A panel displays buttons that were offered for sale at the 2019 Chicago Pride Parade. | CWBChicago

If you’re heading out to Pride Fest in Boystown this weekend or have plans to attend next weekend’s Chicago Pride Parade or Pride in the Park events, we have just two suggestions: have a great time and secure your phone.

All three events have become popular hunting grounds for organized teams of thieves who specialize in stealing phones and, to a lesser extent, wallets.

You should be particularly careful if you go dancing at one of the live shows or local nightclubs. Typically, thieves that work major events ply their trade in highly-congested areas and dance floors where victims may not pay attention to random bumping and touching.

More than 30 phone thefts were reported during Pride Fest 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID, but a couple dozen thefts were reported during last year’s fest, which was held in October and drew a smaller crowd due to COVID.

Police recorded 39 theft and pickpocketing reports during last year’s Pride in the Park event, a two-day LGBTQ-focused show held in Grant Park. Another 16 thefts were reported in Boystown bars that weekend. Near all of the thefts in bars happened on the 3300 block of North Halsted, which is home to the city’s premiere LGBTQ-focused bars like Sidetrack and Roscoe’s Tavern.

Three people were charged with misdemeanors after police allegedly found them in a car with more than 60 stolen phones near Montrose Harbor that weekend.

There were 29 thefts reported during last year’s Market Days street festival in Boystown, including seven from within Boystown bars. Nearly all of those cases were reported on the 3300 and 3400 blocks of North Halsted Street, where the largest crowds gather and dance floors are located.

Pride events aren’t the only places where phone theft teams work. Police recovered more than 120 stolen phones and made seven arrests during last summer’s Lollapalooza in Grant Park. City records show 311 thefts and pickpocketings were reported on the festival grounds and immediately adjacent streets during last year’s event.

The actual number of phones stolen is probably much higher than the crime stats suggest. Unless victims are sure that someone stole their phone, the police classify the incident as “lost property” rather than a crime.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com