It’s a terrible feeling – the moment of panic when you check your pockets and you realise that your mobile phone isn’t there. Sure, it’s an expensive gadget, with many of the latest smartphones costing over £1,000… but it’s much more than that.
Mobile Phones are so entwined with modern life that we can barely function without them. Whether it’s social media, family photos, or whipping out our phones to use contactless payments – they aren’t just phones anymore. So, when they go missing, it’s not just a handset that vanishes in a puff of smoke, it’s often our window into the world.
Obviously, phones are a prime target for thieves and pickpockets. They’re portable, easily misplaced, and worth a lot of money. And with phone theft on the rise across the UK, you don’t want to be their next target. After all, it’s not just your handset – if a thief unlocks your device, they could even gleam all your personal information, making identity theft a major concern, too.
After selling off your handset or stripping it for parts, phone thieves are quids in. So, what can you do to stop them? Thankfully, we’ve got a few tips…
Table of Contents
Keeping Your Phone Safe Outside Your Home
It may seem obvious, but you’ll want to keep your phone as close to you as possible at all times – especially when you’re travelling outside of your home. Here’s what you can do to stop your phone from being stolen in the first place:
- Keep Your Phone Near You. Don’t leave it on the table in front of you when you’re on the train or in a café and don’t leave it tucked in the side of a bag, either. Ideally, you want to make sure it’s on you at all times, preferably tucked away safely in a front trouser pocket or a coat pocket where you keep your hands while walking.
- Don’t Leave Your Phone Unattended. If you do put your phone down on the table, don’t walk away from it. Keep a close eye on where it is at all times, and don’t be tempted to leave it there while you go to grab a coffee or stretch your legs – professional thieves can whisk it away in a matter of seconds.
- Keep a Tight Grip on your Phone. Ideally, try not to use your phone in a crowded space, such as on the tube or in a crowded bar. If you really have to, make sure you hold it securely at all times and keep an eye on anyone who gets too close. It’s better to move away into a less crowded area than risk your phone being nabbed.
- Don’t Use Your Phone in High-Crime Areas. It doesn’t matter how urgent that WhatsApp message is – keep your phone firmly in your pocket if you know you’re in an area where thefts and other robberies take place. Be careful in car parks at night-time, and in other secluded areas where CCTV may not be in use.
- Don’t Wear Apple EarPods or Wireless Buds. A set of EarPods may be handy, but they’re also a neon sign to phone thieves that you’re carrying an expensive handset. Try not to wear them in public as this may make you a target for phone theft. Instead, buy some inexpensive headphones – preferably wired.
- Be Extra Vigilant on Public Transport. Don’t get too comfortable on your daily commute – buses and trains are the perfect staging ground for thieves and pickpockets to target high-value phones. If you do need to use your phone, keep an eye on those around you as well as a firm grip on your handset.
- Don’t Fall For a Scam to Get Your Phone Out. If you don’t feel 100% safe, don’t agree to tell a stranger the time by getting out your phone – use your watch instead, if you have one. Also, be careful not to let strangers “in need” use your phone as it may be a scam to spirit away your handset.
Securing Your Mobile Phone Ahead of Time
Ideally, you want to stop your phone from being stolen in the first place, but what if a thief nabs it straight out of your pocket? There are steps you can take to make sure that even if they do get hold of it, you are still in control.
- Keep a Record of All Your Phone’s Details. Before you take your flashy new phone out on town, make sure you write down all your handset’s important information and keep it in a safe place just in case.
- Your Phone Number.
- Handset Make and Model as well as the manufacturer’s product code.
- Any identifying details such as colour, customisations, or unique attributes.
- Handset PIN code.
- Handset IMEI Number – some networks will be able to use this to disable the handset remotely.
- Add an Old-Fashioned Security Mark. Remember when everyone used ultra-violet pens to tag their bikes at school? It’s still a good idea to mark your fancy smartphone in some way – if you don’t want to do it on the outside, writing your name or other identifying mark inside the phone battery compartment or another removable panel would also work. An alternate phone number could also be written so that anyone who finds the phone can contact you directly.
- Always Add a PIN Code to your Lock Screen. Simply locking your phone screen isn’t enough – make sure you use a PIN Code, fingerprint, facial scan or a combination of these to ensure your phone won’t get unlocked even if it is stolen.
- Call Your Network to Disable Your Phone. If you have your phone’s IMEI Number, you should be able to contact your phone network and ask them to disable the handset remotely. If successful, it will block the phone from being used by anyone on any network – even with a new SIM card. Note: Once the phone is disabled, it may not be able to be used again, even if it’s recovered. Also, keep a record of the phone call made when you contacted your network – date, time, and who you spoke to. Ask for confirmation in writing that the handset has been blocked. It could be useful if the thief racks up charges on your phone.
- Install Anti-Theft Software on your Phone. There are plenty of options when it comes to anti-theft apps. These apps will help you remotely disable your phone and keep thieves from getting hold of your sensitive information. Popular apps include Avast One for Android and iOS as well as plenty of others.
- Make Sure You’ve got Mobile Phone Insurance. It’s a no-brainer – your mobile phone is likely the most expensive item you’ve got on you all the time, so make sure it’s insured. We can help you find mobile phone insurance if you haven’t already got it, but you can also get some great deals via your bank, with some offering free insurance with certain accounts, so it’s worth checking out.
- Keep Your Phone Updated. It may not seem obvious but keeping your phone’s software up to date could be the difference between thieves getting into your handset and keeping them out. Software updates often include security updates, patching exploits that may make it easier to get into your phone, so make sure your phone’s OS is kept up to date.
- Store Important Photos and Info in the Cloud. It’s been a mobile game changer – cloud storage lets you upload files and data wherever you are. Make sure you keep your files, photos and all your contacts backed up automatically, so even if you do lose your handset, you can get your new one up and running in no time.
What to do if your Phone is Stolen
It’s the worst-case scenario – your phone has been pilfered and it’s in the hands of phone thieves. What do you do next? First of all, don’t panic. You may have lost your handset, but there are steps you can take to make sure it’s not a lot worse.
- Get Your Phone Number Disabled. You’ll want to report your phone as lost or stolen immediately, but don’t forget to get your number disconnected, too. This ensures that no further charges will apply, meaning thieves won’t be able to rack up charges on your account. This is especially handy if your network won’t block the phone using the IMEI number.
- Keep a Record of When You Contacted the Network. You’ll want to make sure you keep detailed logs of any communication with your network, just in case the thieves have managed to use your phone before it gets blocked. Keep a record of when it was lost or stolen, when you reported it, and every other communication you make.
- Contact the Police Immediately. Most importantly, you want to report your handset has been stolen. Mobile phone theft may be on the rise in the UK, but it’s still a serious crime, and a police report can help if things get messy with your network. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the police will be able to recover your device, but an official report will help you deal with insurers and your phone network if you need to dispute charges, etc.
If you’ve followed our guide, we hope you’ve avoided your phone being stolen at all, but even if it has, our hints and tips will help you take control and stop things from getting worse. Make sure you back up all your data and get your phone blocked ASAP to minimise the damage, and a good phone insurance policy will get you back up and running in no time.