Herts Police are reminding people how to protect their mobile devices by making use of security features and tracking applications.
Many stolen mobile devices have previously been recovered by police, thanks to the tracking applications installed on them. The ‘apps’ make it possible to locate devices using the GPS signal, and even catch criminals before they can dispose of stolen devices.
Most mobile devices have security features designed to stop anyone else accessing and using them other than the owner. These security features include:
· Locking your devices using a code, pattern or fingerprint recognition;
· Tracing the location of, wiping data from, or locking your handset remotely using another internet enabled device;
· Needing to enter a separate password or account ID to prevent thieves from simply resetting your handset to its factory setting, and therefore resetting any codes or other security features you have set.
However, these features will only protect your devices if they are switched on. A variety of tracking ‘apps’ are available for Apple, Android, Windows and other mobile devices and are easy to download and usually free.
These apps can be activated remotely via internet enabled devices, such as a PC, smart phone or tablet.
If a device with an app installed has been lost – the owner can locate the device and collect it themselves.
However, if a phone has been stolen the owner should call the police as soon as possible, as they may be able to track the phone, recover it and make an arrest.
If you believe your mobile device has been stolen call the police non-emergency number 101. If you are able to report the theft at the time it is happening, call 999 and give the call-taker your tracking app details.
It is strongly recommended that owners contact the police rather than try to recover stolen devices themselves, as this could place them in a difficult or even dangerous situation.
Lost devices that you can trace back to somewhere you have been recently will be safe to collect yourself, but if it is subsequently stolen or you remotely locate it to a place you have never been, please exercise caution and call the police for advice.
There are a number of suitable tracking apps available for Android, Apple and other devices, which can be downloaded from the appropriate application stores. More information on these apps can be found at: www.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/protecting-your-mobile-phone/
Inspector Paul Lawrence, from the Crime Reduction Unit said: “Mobile devices are amongst the most commonly stolen items, as they are easy to steal, valuable, and can be sold on very quickly.
“Most devices now have tracking applications, or can have app installed on them, which makes it more difficult and risky for thieves to steal these devices.
“If you don’t have a tracking app installed on your devices I would strongly urge you to install one and keep a record of the app installed. Then, if it is lost or stolen, it is much more likely that you can get it back.
“These apps can also protect the data held on your devices which could otherwise be used to access your bank accounts or other personal data. You should also keep your devices locked when not in use, to ensure a thief cannot deactivate the app, or access your personal data.”
These are other steps you can take to make your mobile devices more secure:
· Only use apps from your accredited app store and look for the ones with the best ratings and feedback;
· Some devices have tracking apps pre-loaded but may need activating;
· Always lock your device when not in use;
· Use your device discreetly in public places;
· Never leave devices on tables in cafes, pubs etc. or on display in vehicles;
· Register devices on the free online database www.immobilise.com. That way if it does get lost or stolen, police are able to return it to you if it is recovered.