Cell Phone Theft

As cell phones have evolved into smart phones, people are storing more personal information on their phones.  With that, the risks for identity theft, as well as the financial loss, of having your cell phone stolen keeps increasing.  Be sure to keep a close eye on your cell phone as it can take only a moment for it to disappear.

Tips to prevent cell phone theft:

  • Keep your Phone with you – Make sure your phone is with you and that you know where it is when you are out in public.  Do not set it down on a table or leave it behind if you get up to leave–even if it is just for a second.  Thieves are looking for the easiest target and an unattended cell phone is much easier to snatch than one that you have on you.
  • Make your Phone Difficult to Steal – When you have your phone with you, make sure that it is secure somewhere on  you: secured in a pocket, bag, purse, etc.  Preferably, keep your phone in an inner jacket pocket.  Thieves know most people keep their phones in an outer pocket (front or back of pants) and may try their first.  Avoid using a pocket someone can access without you feeling it.  Similarly, if you are carrying your phone in a bag, backpack, or purse, make sure the phone is hidden and secured so someone cannot just reach in and take it.
  • Avoid Using your Phone in Public – Especially when you are alone or in an unfamiliar place, avoid using your phone.  Your phone is easy for a thief to snatch when you have it held up to your head or you are holding it out to text or otherwise look at it.
  • Be Observant and Aware of your Surroundings – As with all your personal property and any theft or robbery, know who is around you and what is happening around you.  If you sense trouble, trust your instincts.  Leave the area and contact DPS if you observe someone or something suspicious.  If a stranger approaches and begins asking about your phone or if he/she can use it–think twice.  If asked what sort of phone you have, tell them it is an older model, has problems, or is less-than-desirable.
  • Back-up your Phone – make sure the information on your phone is backed-up in the event it is stolen
  • Password Protect your Phone – Make sure that you use the password protection on your phone and that you have a unique password.
  • Download and Install Tracking/Anti-Theft Applications – Make sure that you have downloaded an application that will allow you to track a stolen phone and remotely wipe the data (e.g. Apple’s Find my iPhone).  Make sure that you investigate the application to ensure that it will allow you to fully wipe and erase the phone remotely.
  • Write down the Serial Numbers of any Mobile Devices – As with all electronics, make sure that you keep a record of the serial numbers.  In the event the phone is stolen and later recovered, your phone is easily identified by the serial number–especially if you have wiped the data from it.

If your phone is stolen:

  • Remain Calm – Remember: Safety first!  If the phone is taken from your person, follow the robber’s directions, but do not volunteer more than is asked for.  If you have to move, tell the robber what you are doing and why.  Try to get a good look at the robber so you can describe him/her later.  Give the robber time to leave and note the direction he/she travels.
  • After a Robbery – CALL DPS OR THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY.  Avoid touching anything the robber has touched.  Try to recall as you can about the robber including speech and mannerisms.
  • Report any Theft or Robbery - Call DPS or the police and make a report.  Depending on the circumstances of the theft (i.e. not a robbery or burglary), you may be able to use the Minneapolis Police’s e-file system.
  • Report your Phone Stolen to your Carrier – Contact your cell phone carrier and report the phone stolen.  Your carrier may be able to erase your phone, disable service, or track your phone

The Minneapolis Police Department also has information on preventing mobile phone theft.

The Federal Communications Commission has contact information links for common cell phone carriers.  Check the FCC’s site if you are not sure how to report your phone stolen to your carrier.