Mobile phone theft is a very common crime in most cities and if you fall prey to thieves who steal your phone, it can be a very stressful and frustrating process to protect the data held on your device, deal with the Police and navigate through the claims process with your insurance company.
We will take you through the steps that you need to follow when your phone is lost or stolen, and also look at important steps that you should take now in case your phone is stolen in the future. Firstly, here is what you should do when your mobile phone is stolen.
Do not fight back
If your phone has been snatched out of your hand whilst you are making a phone call, which is a very common crime in cities and busy locations, your first reaction may be to chase after the thief, or fight back in some way.
This happened recently in London when bystanders intervened when they saw thieves steal a phone, however three of “have a go” bystanders ended up in hospital when the two thieves stabbed them with a knife.
Although you might feel angry and want to fight back when your phone is stolen like this, it is highly dangerous to take matters into your own hands. After all, it is only a phone that you have lost and your life and health is far more valuable than the phone.
Remotely lock the phone down as soon as possible
Although the security built into mobile phones is generally very good, it is important to lock down your phone remotely, as soon as possible. The two most common phone operating systems – Google Android and Apple IOS – have excellent apps that can track where a phone is and allow you to lock down the phone remotely and initiate the erasing of all data on the phone.
Obviously you won’t be able to do this on the phone that was stolen, however you should be able to use these apps on devices such as iPads and tablets from the same company. For example, Apple Find My can lock down a lost iPhone from an iPad or Mac Book.
Although these apps work when the lost phone is turned on, the latest versions of Apple IOS (software versions 15.0 and 16.0+) allow you to track the phone even when it is turned off.
Disable your Apple ID and Apple Pay on the lost phone
If you use an iPhone, you will be aware of how important your Apple ID is. It unlocks a wide range of Apple services so it is important that you disable your Apple ID on your lost iPhone as soon as possible.
You can do this remotely via the Find My app from another device such as an iPad. You should also disable Apple Pay on the lost phone too, again using the Find My app.
If your Google Android phone has been stolen you should use its powerful features to lock, erase and secure your phone as much as possible.
Inform the Police and ask for a crime reference number
Once your stolen phone has been remotely locked and secured, you should inform the Police as soon as possible. Doing this will not only initiate a possible investigation that might result in the phone thieves being caught, but also allows you to report the crime and to receive a crime reference number, which is vital information when making a claim against your insurance company.
The Police will ask you to describe when, where and how the crime was committed and will ask you to describe details about the thief such as what they were wearing, their height and appearance, and even details about what you were wearing and your physical appearance so that you and the thief can be tracked by CCTV systems in the vicinity of the crime.
Having you phone snatched from your hand is shocking but it is important to try and remember as many details as possible about what happened and by whom to give the Police a good chance to find the suspects.
Important – the Police will ask you for the IMEI number of your phone as this is a unique identifier that identifies your phone should it be eventually be found. Remember that you won’t be able to use your phone to retrieve the IMEI number when it is lost so it needs to be stored elsewhere.
Important – Remember to ask the Police for your crime reference number and write it down as you will definitely need it for an insurance claim.
Inform your network provider and cancel the SIM card
It is vital that you contact your phone provider as soon as possible to inform them that your phone has been stolen and ask them to do the following steps to safeguard your data and make it difficult for the thief to sell your stolen phone:
Block your SIM card
This prevents the thief from using your phone to make calls that could be to expensive services or international numbers that you may have to pay for. It also prevents the thief from receiving calls on your phone and potentially impersonating you to ask callers for information that could provide more information about you that could subject you to other crimes.
Once the SIM card had been blocked, ensure that your network provider sends a replacement SIM to your home address, so that you can use it when you receive a replacement phone. It will also provide you with a certificate showing that the SIM card has been blocked and when that happened, which your insurance company will ask for.
Obtain proof of usage
Your insurance company will ask for proof of usage from your network provider which shows that you have been using your phone properly and have not just kept it unused in a drawer somewhere. Your network provider will email you a certificate that shows proof of usage in a format that is acceptable to the insurance company when making a valid claim. It is very important to ask your provider to send this information.
Blacklist your phone
It is very important that you ask your network provider to blacklist your phone. You need the IMEI number of your phone in order to do this as it allows your network provider to add your phone to a nationwide database of stolen and lost phones. Having a phone blacklisted in this way should make it more difficult for a stolen phone to be resold as legitimate used phone dealers should always check their phones against this database.
If you bought your phone from the network provider, as many people do, the provider should be able to easily blacklist your phone, and may, in fact, already have your IMEI number stored in your account. If you have bought your phone from somewhere else, then your network provider may be more reluctant to blacklist your phone, or take a long time to do this.
It is vital that you get your phone blacklisted by your network, so be very persistent with them to ensure that they do this for you. Some networks are better than others at blacklisting phones that they haven’t supplied. Make sure that you give them your IMEI number and also ensure that the number is accurate as it is a very long code.
Your network provider should also provide you with a certificate showing that your phone has been blacklisted and when that was carried out. You need this to make an insurance claim so make sure that you receive this certificate as soon as possible.
Take screenshots of your stolen phone being tracked
If it is practical to do so, it will help the Police investigation if you can provide them with as much information from your Apple Find My and Google Find My Device tracking apps as possible.
Using these apps, you should be able to see where your stolen phone is being taken by the thieves. If at all possible, take a series of screenshots of the phone locations as it is moved after the theft and let the Police know the addresses and give them the screenshots as evidence.
This could be hugely important information for the Police that may lead to the arrest of the suspects, but it is vital that you do not attempt to retrieve the phone yourself.
Lodge a claim with your insurance company
We all know how expensive mobile phones can be and as phone thefts are very common, it makes sense to have an insurance policy that covers the theft of your phone.
If you have insurance cover, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible after receiving your crime reference number from the Police. You should be aware that there is a huge amount of attempted fraud in which people claim to have had their phones stolen when in fact they either don’t own the phone in question, or intend to claim money from an insurer without having lost their phone at all.
The process for claiming an insurance payout for a stolen phone is designed to protect the insurer from this fraud and may present a number of hoops that you have to jump through in order to make a successful claim for a legitimate theft.
To make a claim, you will need to provide this information:
- Your personal details such as name, address, contact details
- Give a brief description of what happened, where and when
- The crime reference number
- A certificate of proof of usage from your network provider
- A certificate of proof of SIM blocking from your network provider
- A certificate showing that your phone has been blacklisted by your network provider
- Proof of purchase of your phone such as the purchase receipt
Unfortunately, phone thefts are very common and are increasing. If you fall victim to this crime it is important to follow the steps described in this article to ensure that you obtain all the correct information. This ensures that the Police can register and investigate the crime, that your data is safe, and that the insurance claims process is as trouble free as possible.
It’s when you lose your phone that you realise how important these devices have become in our everyday lives so you will want to find a replacement phone as soon as possible, hopefully from a valid insurance claim. Helping the Police identify the suspects is beneficial in tackling this crime but ensure that you let them tackle the criminals rather than you risking a confrontation with the thief.