5 essential things you must do before your phone gets stolen

phone theft

Two years ago, I had a nasty incident. I got robbed by thugs at night. I know, mum said I should never walk at night. But it wasn’t even late. It was just 8:00 pm and I was coming from work fully loaded with laptop in my bag and smartphone in my pocket.

The thugs didn’t just take my laptop and smartphone, they also left me with an injured eye. Terrible! I know. But it happens although am not saying it should happen to you. God forbid.

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Your phone might however, get misplaced or lost. Yet you had to part with an arm and a leg to have it. So here are 5 essential things you should do before you lose your phone.

Get to know your own phone

This is trivial, but it’s a highly essential tip. Get to know your phone for instance the brand, color, shape, operating system. This will help you identify your device from a far. However, the most important detail to note down is the IMEI number.

Every phone has a unique serial number called IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) that correctly identifies your device from the rest. You will need these details as soon as you report loss of your device to the police or your network operator. If you don’t provide these identifiers, nobody will be able to help you since you won’t be able to prove that the device belongs to you.

On the keypad, enter *#06# without any spaces, you’ll be presented with the IMEI number. Consider saving this in your contact book so you don’t have to remember it again. Also on some devices like the Nexus, you can find these by navigating to settings, about phone, status and then IMEI. Alternatively you can find your phone IMEI from inside your phone. To do this, power off your phone, remove your phone battery and then look in the empty battery slot for a white label noting the IMEI. 

Set a lock screen PIN code

Another trivial thing. Have you ever been able to operate a friend’s phone that has a lock screen PIN or unlocking pattern? No! you’ve not. That’s a good reason you should take this security precaution and set your 4-digit lock screen PIN or pattern depending on your preference. The lock screen PIN will buy you some time as you try to chase the thief (not advisable) since they won’t be able to use your phone and access your private data.

The best the thief can do is power off your device and remove the SIM card and battery but not accessing your photos, emails, bank accounts, passwords (yes some of you keep this stuff in plain text) etc.

Back up your data

Backing up data until now has been a chore unless you don’t own a smartphone. Back in the day, when you lost your phone, you also lost your contacts, photos, calendar, settings etc. Fortunately those days are long gone.

When you buy an Android-powered device, all you’ve to do is sign-in with your email address and allow syncing of data in the settings. Google will back up your contacts to your email account in the cloud automagically without you doing a thing.  Google backs up your calendar appointments, Emails with the Gmail App, chats on hangouts, photos with autoawesome properly configured to its remote servers. The same goes for Apple with your  iCloud account setup and Windows Phone too. You can further back up your music, photos and video to Dropbox, Google Drive or any other Cloud services that offer free storage.

When I lost my phone to the thugs, It was the least thing I ever worried about. A month later when I recovered from the injuries, and acquired a new device, I simply signed into my new device with my Gmail account and Bingo, everything just came back as before. The silicon went, but the data remained although I wish I could say the same for the laptop.

Install Anti-theft phone Apps

This will be your attempt at getting back your smartphone once it is lost or stolen. I can’t be too optimistic though since there are high possibilities of never recovering your phone.

I will start with Android Device manager. This App from Google itself will help track your lost device using your friend’s Android phone. All you’ve to do is sign in with your details from your friend’s phone and track your lost phone. If you don’t have access to a second device, you’ll have to use the web interface. Window Phone guys have to configure “Find my phone” option in the settings. This feature saved my Lumia when it slipped out of my pocket. iOS guys simply have to sign into their iCloud accounts and use the “find my iPhone” App to locate their devices.

Register your SIM card

Register that SIM card with your operator before someone else uses it for the wrong purposes. Registering your SIM card simplifies the process of reclaiming your SIM card once you lose it and also protects you from criminals that would otherwise use it for criminal activities. I know UCC (Uganda Communication Commission) promised to shutdown unregistered SIM cards, but we all know where that road led to. But that’s not an opportunity for laxity.

Okay that’s all we’ve got for you. Do you have some more tips? Please share with us in the comments.

Image: thestar.com

  • Jemimah


    Samsung also provides an anti-theft service for its devices

    • That’s great, although they were late to this. I think security should be built into the phone itself and not implemented by independent vendors.

  • Primah Kwagala

    Nice Piece in here, -I have done most of this be4 & i recovered My phone once, the second time i was only able to have all my files backed up in the cloud -I was delighted when i realised i only missed the call function to my ex Phone!