Statistics from Ireland's National Police Service, An Garda Síochána, shows that nearly 8,000 smartphones were reported stolen in the first six months of 2012. According to police, smartphone theft has increased significantly in Ireland.
"Stories of stolen smart phones abound and the ordeal for victims is considerable. The theft often happens in broad daylight when people are walking along the street using a smart phone." - Gerry Breen, Chairperson of the Committee Councillor
According to Ireland police, only 15% of mobile phone owners recorded their IMEI number prior to the theft incident, which makes it difficult for police to match recovered devices to their rightful owners. Recording the IMEI is just one step we advice in basic mobile phone theft prevention and preparation tips, as outlined below.
With smartphone thefts on the rise, here are some tips you can take to avoid being a mobile phone robbery victim:
- Don't use your phone in the street, advertising that you have a valuable device
- Password protect access to the device
- Auto-set screen lock functionality for the minimum time allowed
- Be aware of who is around you; if you feel uneasy, go inside a store or business if necessary
- Always maintain control of your device in public places – never leave it alone, even for a minute
- If you need to make a call, go somewhere public and visible like a business, then conceal your phone before going outside
- Put your cell phone on vibrate and only answer it when it's safe to do so
- Be especially vigilant on transit or in transit stations as these are the top locations for mobile phone robberies
- Don't use your earbuds or listen to music, even if your phone is hidden. The earbuds are a dead giveaway and you don't want to diminish your awareness by blocking out surrounding sounds.
- If possible, provide non-identifiable contact information on or in the device for good Samaritan scenarios
- Record device identifiers (IMEI, serial number, make/model. ESN/PIN, identifiable characteristics) in a safe place
- Use an ultra violet pen to print your personal information onto both your mobile handset and battery, to claim it if stolen (needs to be repeated every couple of months, it wears off)
If someone tries to take something from you by force, give it to them and call law enforcement at your first opportunity. If you do become a victim of cell phone robbery, do not attempt self-recovery, even if you do have tracking software installed, and read our Do's and Don'ts of Stolen & Lost Mobile Devices post.