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What to do when your phone is stolen

By Mate Tongola | November 5th 2021
By Mate Tongola | November 5th 2021

DCI officers inspecting some 294 mobile phones recovered in a house at Kaptembwo slums, Nakuru. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Losing your phone can be stressful and it can happen to anyone. From the memorable photos, videos in one’s gallery, financial accounts, email, social media and private notes that one stores on their mobile device.

However, with advanced technology, the pain has been eased and a victim can remotely clear his or her phone to prevent the intrusion of privacy.

But, what do you do when you are a victim of mobile phone theft?

The Standard engaged Sonuh Chaudhry, an Information Technology (IT) expert who runs a data recovery services company. He advises that the first step is a person would need to do after he loses his or her phone is to call the lost phone using another phone so as to locate it.

“This can only be helpful if at all the phone is not in the wrong hands. Worse still, it can prove difficult to locate it if it is on silent mode for instance if you have been robbed in a matatu,” Chaundry explained.  

The IT guru however advises that smart mobile phone users should set their devises to display texts on the home/lock screen.

“Not all lost phones are in the hands of thieves…Sometimes you might have dropped your phone and it ends up being picked by a good Samaritan, you can try your luck by texting your phone to provide information on how to contact you,” he said.

Built-in Feature

Most Android phones also have an underused in-built feature that allows the owner to lock, erase, track and even ring remotely the misplaced phone.

Chaudhry advises that everyone needs to enable the feature on their phone under ‘Find my device’.

“From this feature, once you have ascertained that your phone is stolen, you can remotely delete personal information or data from the list device”.

Finally, Chaundry explains that the last resort if one is unable to locate the phone is to contact your mobile carrier who can disable service to your phone by making it unusable to anyone else.

“That is why it is advised not to purchase a used phone from a stranger” he explained.

This not only helps protect you, but anyone who may unknowingly purchase a used phone that's been stolen.

Report to Police

Mugambi Andrew, an officer at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) stresses the need for anyone who has lost his phone to report to the nearest police station where they will be issued with an abstract.

“In as much as many people ignore reporting to the police, it is key. With an abstract, it is easy to follow up and even prosecute a documented case hence making it easy for the police,” Mugambi said.

He notes that every phone has a different 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number which is among the most prominent ways to find lost devices.

One needs to note it down and with that, the police can easily track and trace your phone.

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