Murder On The Dance Floor: Crime At Coachella And Other Music Festivals

Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2012 [Wikimedia Commons]

Festival season is meant to be a time of peace, love and partying — and, in general, arrests at music festivals have been declining in recent years.

Related: Crime History: The Rolling Stones Play Altamont In 1969; Death Steals The Show

Unfortunately, sometimes criminals take advantage of the good vibes for their own nefarious purposes. From pickpocketing to mysterious murders and sexual assault, here are a few crimes that made headlines during music festivals around the world.

Reinaldo De Jesus Henao [Indio Police Department]

Reinaldo De Jesus Henao [Indio Police Department]

Coachella Festival-Goer Steals 100 Cell Phones

Several festival-goers noticed their cell phones had vanished during the first Friday of Coachella 2017. According to the Indio Police Department, the music fans worked together by activating their “Find My iPhone” app and followed Reinaldo De Jesus Henao around the venue until he was detained by security workers. Officers later arrived and found more than 100 cell phones in Henao’s backpack, police said. Henao, 36, of New York was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property. Several cell phones were returned to victims, and others were left at lost and found. [Los Angeles Times ]

Related: Man Sneaks Into Stranger’s Home, Spends 3 Days Under Bed Charging His 4 Cell Phones


Mumford & Sons, Teatro Romano, Verona, 2012 [Andrea Sartorati/Wikimedia Commons]

Mumford & Sons, Teatro Romano, Verona, 2012 [Andrea Sartorati/Wikimedia Commons]

Sexual Assault At Festivals In Sweden

In July 2016, reports of sexual assault and molestation snowballed at two music festivals in Sweden. Police said that they handled over 50 reports of sexual assault in total, including five reports of rape. Authorities said they were investigating seven suspects ranging in age from 18 to 35, and that most of those assaulted were under 18. The assaults occurred at Putt i Parken, a festival in Karlstad focusing mostly on Swedish acts, as well as the larger Bravalla Festival in Norrköping, which hosted international acts like Mumford & Sons, Macklemore, and Afrojack. Police in Sweden have been under scrutiny for covering up the assaults, as well as similar incidents in 2014 and 2015, which many people claim were committed by refugees. Mumford & Sons boycotted the event following the reports. [Jezebel]

Related: Is Cologne Safe? One Year After Dozens Of Women Were Sexually Assaulted By Packs Of Men, Police Beef Up Security

Man Dies Following Fire At Glastonbury

Glastonbury festival poster [Wikimedia Commons]

Glastonbury festival poster [Wikimedia Commons]

Last summer, a festival attendee in his twenties was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries after investigators say he caught fire after a gas spillage in the Green Field area where the Glastonbury music festival took place. According to police, the death was not treated as suspicious. Rescuers were reported to be hampered by mud and access roads blocked by stuck vehicles as they tried to reach him. Eventually, a  helicopter was able to fly the casualty to hospital in Bristol. He was then transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he later died. [Daily Telegraph]

Related: Heavy Metal Hell: The 2003 Great White Concert Fire That Killed 100

Death At Electric Daisy Carnival 

Andrew Graf, 19, died after being taken to the Baylor University Medical Center from the Electric Daisy Carnival, an electronic music festival. Though the cause of death remains under investigation, Graf was one of multiple people who were taken “to hospitals for drug, alcohol and heat-related illnesses.” In addition, at least 24 others had been hospitalized after the festival.

Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London [Wikimedia Commons]

Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London [Wikimedia Commons]

London Festivals Are Hotbeds For Pickpockets, Police Say 

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, insurer Policy Expert complied data to determine which UK revelers were most likely to lose their wallets. The festival where theft and pickpocketing was most apparent was at Wireless in London, where 1 in 531 people had valuables stolen last year, and £124,000 was reported lost or stolen. It was followed by South West Four in Clapham, where attendees have a one in 640 chance of being pickpocketed. Experts recommend not displaying money or jewelry, renting a locker at the venue if possible, and checking to verify that homeowner’s policy covers lost goods. []


Related: Two Weeks After Losing Wallet, Man Receives Hilarious Mystery Note In Mail

Mysterious Death At (The First) Woodstock 

Part of the crowd on the first day of Woodstock in 1969 [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Part of the crowd on the first day of Woodstock in 1969 [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Many people think of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which ran from August 15 to August 18, 1969, as the ultimate hippie love-in — but there were fatalities. According to, two people died at Woodstock — one man from a heroin overdose and a teenager in a sleeping bag who was killed when a tractor ran over him. The driver was never traced. []

Related: Did Jeffrey MacDonald Kill His Family? Or Was It A Group Of Manson Family–esqe LSD-Raving Hippies?


Riots, Rapes, And Rage At (The Last) Woodstock ’99 

In 1999, hundreds of thousands of people showed up at Woodstock, the temperature soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and all hell broke loose. After dealing with overflowing toilets and no garbage collection, things got ugly when Rage Against The Machine took the stage. Hordes of men chanted “show us your tits” to women — and there were many sexual assaults and eight reported rapes during the festival, including a moshpit gang-rape of a crowd-surfer during Limp Bizkit’s set.

Related: Spring Break Partygoers Riot, Injure Dozens, Including Cops

The next day, a group called PAX distributed “peace candles” to the crowd. They were hardly used peacefully by the crowd — during the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” concertgoers used the flames to set fire to the toppling piles of garbage, eventually even destroying the stands to make bonfire fuel. The fires rages for hours, as the crowd lost it’s mind, and the “Peace and Music” festival turned into a full-scale riot.

It was later reported that 10,000 festival-goers required medical treatment. [The Huffington Post]

Main photo: Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2012 [Wikimedia Commons]






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