According to official figures in London UK, a mobile phone is reported stolen approximately every six minutes. In 2022, there were 91,000 reports of phone theft in the city, averaging 248 incidents per day. However, only two percent of these reported thefts resulted in the recovery of the stolen devices. The Metropolitan Police acknowledges that policing this crime is challenging, and they continue daily operations to address it. (ref [1], [2])

To date, the charge rate for phone theft has been deemed “unacceptable and unsustainable” by the independent inspector of police forces.

Preventive Steps You Can Take

  • Do not leave your mobile device unattended or in open view in public places.
  • Do not leave your mobile device on open display in an unattended car.
  • When using your device in a public place, consider your surroundings and be discrete about how you use it.
  • Do not give your device to strangers.
  • Ensure you have enabled and switched on the security features that are available on your device to prevent unauthorized parties from using the device if it is stolen. These features include the ability to track your device and to remotely lock and wipe it from another connected device.
  • Use a PIN lock or biometric authentication feature on your device and SIM card.

    • Check Apple iPhone security guidance page <here>
    • Check Android security guidance page <here>
  • Keep a note of the make and model of your device and any distinguishing features.
  • Consider marking your device with your postal code and house or flat numbers using an ultraviolet security marker pen.
  • Keep a note of the IMEI number of your device. Find your device’s unique IMEI number by dialing *#06# and note it down.

Steps To Take If Your Phone Is Stolen

  • 1

    Remotely Erase Your Phone: This will prevent anyone from accessing your personal information. For Android, use Google’s Find My Device, and for iPhone, use Apple’s Find My iPhone.

  • 2

    Change Your Passwords: Update the passwords for your email, social media, banking, and any other accounts that you accessed from your phone.

  • 3

    Promptly Contact Your Carrier:  Report the theft to your service provider’s customer service. They can block your SIM card to prevent unauthorized calls and charges, for which you might otherwise be liable.

  • 4

    Inquire About Device Blocklisting: Ask your service provider if they can blacklist your device using its IMEI number (dial *#06# to find it). Blacklisting will prevent the phone from working on their network. Some countries have shared blocklists, preventing the stolen phone from working on any network within that country.

  • 5

    File a Police Report: Report the theft to the police. This may be necessary for insurance claims and could also help recover your device.

  • 6

    Notify Your Bank: If you have banking apps or sensitive financial information on your phone, alert your bank to monitor for fraudulent activity.

  • 7

    Use ‘Find My Phone’ Features: If you had these services activated, you might be able to locate your phone or at least see its last known location.

  • 8

    Alert Your Contacts: Let your friends and family know your phone was stolen in case the thief tries to scam them using your identity.

Additional Considerations

  • Insurance: Check if your household insurance covers device theft. If not, consider specialized device insurance.

  • Backup Your Data: Use services or tools provided by your carrier or third parties to back up contacts and other data from your device and SIM card. This makes recovery easier in case of theft.

  • Encrypt Sensitive Data: Protect confidential personal or business data with encryption software. This prevents unauthorized access if your device is stolen.

  • Lost Device Message: If supported by your device, create a message to display on the lock screen. Include contact information to aid anyone who finds the phone in returning it to you.