Keeping your phone safe outdoors

Keeping your phone safe outdoors

Considering how affordable smartphones used to be, it seems astonishing that consumers are now willing to pay almost £1,500 for a SIM-only handset.

That’s a higher value than the total out-of-home cover provided by many home insurance policies.

It’s a sum of money you certainly wouldn’t want to pay twice, if your handset was lost or stolen.

Yet look around any public space, and there are people being blasé with phones that cost them many hundreds of pounds and remain under contract.

They’re dropped onto rocks or buried under sandcastles at the beach, left on bus and train seats, and carried around in unzipped handbags on main roads and packed trains.

Given our casual relationships with these expensive devices, it’s perhaps surprising phone crime isn’t more prevalent.

It isn’t recorded as a specific crime by the Home Office, but estimates suggest almost 200 smartphones are stolen every day in the UK.

Fortunately, keeping your phone safe isn’t difficult. These simple steps should help to avoid appearing in 2019’s crime statistics:

  • Keep devices out of sight when not in use. High-end smartphones may be fashion statements, but leaving them on bars and tables encourages snatch-and-grab thieves.

    Carry handsets in trouser pockets or handbags, and never leave them unattended in public while ordering a round at the bar or nipping off to the toilets.

  • Ensure bags are closed. It’s easy for a pickpocket to extricate a phone out of a handbag being loosely carried over a shoulder or dumped on the ground.

    Ensure zipped or popper-fastened bags are always closed. Having to undo the fastening is a minor inconvenience, but it could save major distress.

  • Turn on biometric identification. A thief might see a PIN code being tapped onto a screen, but they won’t be able to copy biometric login credentials.

    It’s worth keeping your phone safe by unlocking it with a fingerprint or facial recognition scan, to prevent unauthorised people from using it.

  • Activate tracker apps. Dedicated apps can be pre-installed onto a device, using GPS tracking to identify its location even if the internet connection has been disabled.

    Providing the police with GPS coordinates could help them return a stolen handset that might otherwise be lost forever.

  • Prevent a factory reset. Speaking of the police, they advise everyone to disable options like Android’s Factory Reset function.

    Otherwise, unauthorised users could bypass security features like login/knock codes, especially if the device is unlocked as they acquire it.

  • Note the IMEI number. Every smartphone sold in the UK has a bespoke International Mobile Equipment Identity number hardwired into it.

    Find it by typing *#06# into the keypad, or look on the battery or SIM card compartment. Write the number in a diary or notebook, to help identify the device if it’s found or returned.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Keeping your phone safe relies heavily on common sense, so think twice before making a call as while walking down a dark alley.

    Snatch-and-grab crimes frequently occur outside train stations, as people check for missed messages. Do a quick scan for potential thieves before taking out a handset.

  • Register devices on the Immobilise property register. This global database lets consumers record ownership details of valuable devices.

    As well as helping with insurance claims and generating loss report numbers, every UK police force uses Immobilise to return recovered items to their rightful owners.

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