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Keeping your mobile phone and tablet safe

Mobile phones and tablets are a big attraction for thieves. Theft is most likely to occur in a public place where you are distracted, such as bars, night clubs, restaurants and public transport.

If your mobile phone or tablet is stolen, the damage can extend further than the loss of the device itself. A thief can cause much more harm with your banking apps, personal photos, videos and other important documents.

Follow these simple steps to help protect your phone or tablet.

Download a tracking app

One of the easiest ways to protect your mobile phone or tablet is to download a tracking app. Once downloaded, these apps enable you to find out where your device is located by using another smartphone, laptop or computer.

Most importantly, these apps also help police recover your smartphone or tablet should it be stolen. There have been a number of cases where a tracking app has helped officers locate the thief and return the smartphone or device to its rightful owner.

Make sure the tracking app you chose is reputable and uses GPS. Remember that once your service provider “blocks” your phone you will not be able to track it anymore. Some apps have the ability to take covert photographs of the person using the phone, or record their internet usage trail.

If your device has been stolen and you later track it through a tracking app, let the police officer dealing with your case know that you have traced it. Never be tempted to attend the location to recover the property yourself.

Understand how to identify your mobile phone if it is stolen

All mobile phones and some tablets have a unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI) which is a unique identifier for your device.

To find your IMEI number, key *#06# into the keypad of your mobile phone or tablet and it will display a 15 digit number. You can also look inside the battery or SIM card compartment of your handset to find your IMEI number.

Keep a written note of your IMEI number as UK network operators can prevent a stolen handset from working across their respective networks if you can tell them the IMEI.

Use the security features on your phone and tablet

Most mobile phones and tablets have security features that will protect your data and prevent your phone from being used if stolen.

In order to protect your phone, consider switching on the following security features:

  • Set the screen lock. Make sure your phone automatically locks the screen and you create a PIN code that unlocks the handset. If available, use biometric authentication (fingerprint or facial recognition) so that thieves can not immediately access your phone.
  • Install an anti-theft app. These apps may allow you to locate, track, and remotely wipe your personal data (such as banking apps, Facebook passwords, and contacts). On some apps, the camera will be triggered when someone enters the wrong PIN code three times. The phone will lock itself and take a snapshot of the perpetrator, which is then emailed to the phone's registered owner. Anti-theft apps can be an effective way of helping police trace your phone and identify the thief.

Be aware of your surroundings

It can be easy for a thief to take your mobile phone or tablet from you when you are out and about. 

Protect your phone or tablet from opportunist thieves, consider the following:

  • Never leave your mobile phone or tablet unattended in a public place. Think about where you are when you use your device outside. Shopping centres, busy train stations are popular places with pickpockets - especially if your mobile phone is visible in an open bag or hanging out of your back pocket.
  • Try not to text or use your phone while walking as you’ll be distracted. If you need to use your mobile phone in a public place, look out for anyone on a bike, moped or walking near you. 
  • Go hands-free to prevent a thief from snatching your device out of your hand.

Further Information

You can register your mobile phone and other property on the Immobilise website. This service is free, easy to use and secure.