What to do when your smartphone is stolen

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If you’re reading this post, you probably have gone through a nasty experience of where you have lost your pricey smartphone. In this post I am going to present tips on what to do to prevent your smartphone being stolen, or if it has been stolen how to recover it or make it useless for the thief. This article does not guarantee you will recover your smartphone but it guarantees that you’re in the know. Black market for smartphones is a thriving business in Kenya. This mean that the number of phones stolen is alarming. But with the advent of smartphones in Kenya you shouldn’t be caught flatfooted by the not so smart muggers. Here is what you should do;

Use common sense.

Well this sounds simplistic but trust me this will help you avoid your phone being stolen in 8 out of 10 occasions. Precaution is always better than caution. How many times have you been told not to use your smartphone near a window while in public transport vehicle? I have many friends who have lost their smartphone this way.
There’s also the unwritten rule that while on some streets (mostly the crowded and dark ones) in Nairobi mostly at dusk avoid making or receiving calls. These streets mostly in downtown (Tom Mboya Street, River Road etc.) Nairobi are the thriving hubs for muggers. You’re also advised if you MUST get out your phone to text or email hold it firmly with both hands to make it impossible from being snatched away.
Make sure you keep your phone in sight all the time. If it's in a pocket, then a front pocket is of course better and if it is in your bag, (and this is mostly for the ladies) then make sure it is in a zipped up section and that you keep your bag within reach or where you can see it.
Finally if you come across stranger claiming to be in distress asking that you help him or her with your phone just walk away. Well, this sounds crude but trust me, this is Nairobi!

Install a tracking app

Android has Android Device Manager. You can use it to locate your phone, lock it or completely erase it. To use Android device manager you must have logged into the Google web portal using the Google account that is associated with your android phone. The downside to Android Device Manager is you cannot use it if your phone has no data connection or is switched off.
Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus, my recommendation for premium Android security suites, completely secures your device with an impassable lockscreen. It also features remote SMS commands, so you can keep control of your device even when it's not connected to a Wi-Fi network. This app is not cheap. It costs around KES 1400 per year but it is completely worth it.
My Choice for free Android security suites is avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus which features an incredible amount of anti-theft features, including powerful SMS commands and the option (on rooted devices) to place an anti-theft software module within the phone's OS partition. All of this, in addition to a Web interface that lets you trigger all of your anti-theft tools simultaneously, helps balance a problematic lockscreen that a thief could use to access your notification tray. It will not be erased even on hard reset. It also prevent your data connection from being disabled making it easier for you take control of your lost device.
There are also dedicated anti-theft apps for Android like Prey and Bitdefender Anti-Theft that provide much the same protection as an Android security suite. Some of them, like Lookout's Plan B and Android Lost are actually designed to be installed and activated remotely, even after a theft has taken place. Unfortunately, Plan B only works on devices running Android 2.0-2.3, making it useless on most current devices. Android Lost is more flexible, and while I have successfully installed and activated it remotely on a Samsung Galaxy S III, I was unable to repeat the process later. Again: individual results may vary.
For iPhone users, Find my iPhone will allow you to use another iOS device to show you where your phone is on a map, after which you will be able to protect your data by remotely locking it or deleting everything on it.

Windows Phone users can go to the My Phone section of the Windows Phone website where you will be able to ring, lock, erase or show your phone on a map from any internet-connected computer.

Finally, BlackBerry users can download BlackBerry Protect that will help you find your device and keep the information on it secure. If your phone is stolen, you can log in to the BlackBerry Protect website and lock your device, as well as delete the information on the phone itself and the microSD card.


The moment your phone is stolen you should report to the police. Yes, we don’t do this in Kenya because the police will probably never recover your phone but it is a good habit. Most people are discouraged because of the hectic process involved but it will help just in case your phone is found. You will be issued with police abstract form which you will give to your mobile network subscriber. This information will help your subscriber to block your phone once it comes online.

Be prepared

The moment you buy your phone you should make note of the basic identification of your phone. You should note down the model of your phone, the color and the IMEI number which you can obtain by dialing *06# on your phone. All this can come in handy once you lose your phone. You can also make a mark which can be used to identify it.
Yes it is very frustrating typing in a PIN, drawing unlock pattern or entering a password every time you need to unlock your phone, but it will make your phone less valuable to thieves and they won't be able to access what you have stored on your phone easily. Whether you have an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry device, they all have the capacity to set up a PIN or lock code so make sure it is one of the first things you do when you get a new phone. With some modern phones, such as the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8, you can also lock your phone using your fingerprint.
Finally take time to know your phone. Learn how to use the anti-theft apps. This is not only for the tech enthusiasts alone. Using these apps is as easy as 1,2,3... Theft and loss are the biggest threats to Android devices, and no matter how careful you are it will probably happen to you at some point. The time (and maybe money) you invest in the tools and the knowledge you need to stay safe will pay off with peace of mind and, maybe, a recovered Android.

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