Outsmarting Smart Phone Thieves

Outsmarting Smart Phone Thieves

There is an all too common crime threatening to make its way into St. Louis: Smart Phone Theft. Phone theft, particularly Apple iPhones, has increased dramatically nation-wide in recent years.   Prevent this from happening to you with these simple, yet effective tips.

Pay Attention!

It is worth repeating: Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid leaving your phone on tables in public, where it can easily be taken. Be mindful of what is going on around you while walking.  Thieves look for opportunities to “snatch and grab” cell phones when the user is not paying attention. The police often use this example; a person is walking with their phone in their hand, texting or listening to music. A popular move for the thief is to come from behind, startle the user, and snatch the phone.

Password Protect

People keep many private things stored on their phone, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Should your phone get taken, a lock screen password can stall the thief from immediately getting access into your phone, giving you time to wipe your phone clean of any private information by switching passwords to email and other private accounts. Change your passwords immediately if your phone is lost or stolen!

Keep a Record of Important Info

It is important to know your phone’s unique numbers. Write down your phones model number, serial number, and unique devise identification number, or IMEI. Your IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identifier, can be found on most phones by dialing *#06#, or on some models, simply turning your phone off and removing the battery to find the numbers listed on the back.  On an iPhone, go into Settings, click General and then click About and you will find a page listing your phone’s model and serial number and IMEI code. These numbers are crucial to reporting a stolen phone and retrieving a lost cell phone.

Make Use of Tracking Apps

The first thing an officer will ask you when a phone is lost or stolen is whether or not you have a tracking application. The police have recovered many misplaced cell phones by tracking the GPS signal trail. If it has been stolen, and is reported quickly, they can even track it straight to the robber’s location. For iPhones, use Find My iPhone. This app can be turned on in Apple’s iCloud or downloaded from iTunes. For Android users, apps such as Where’s My Droid and Lookout can be used to track cell phones. Besides GPS tracking, many of these popular apps can be accessed from your home computer to quickly lock your phone, wipe it clean of important information, and even set off a “screaming” phone alarm.

Report It!

If your phone is stolen, immediately report it to the police and your cell phone carrier. The police will ask for your IMEI number and the password to your tracking app. Once you have reported this to the police, call your carrier to disable your device. The carrier should also add your IMEI number to a database of blacklisted phones, keeping it from being activated.

Wollan, Malia. “Outsmarting Smartphone Thieves.” The New York Times 28 May 2013. Web. 8 July 2013.

Federal Communications Commission Guide to Stolen and Lost Wireless Devices