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Security features on devices reminder

Police are reminding people that they can protect their mobile devices by making use of security features and tracking applications. Stolen mobile devices have been recovered by police, thanks to the tracking applications installed on them. The ‘apps’ make it possible to locate devices using the GPS signal, helping to recover lost or stolen devices and even catch criminals before they can dispose of them. Most mobile devices have security features designed to stop anyone else accessing and using them other than the owner. These security features include:

• Creating a straightforward access code that locks your handset
• Tracing the location of, wiping data from, or locking your handset remotely using another internet enabled device
• Needing to enter a separate password or account ID to prevent thieves from simply resetting your handset to its factory setting, and therefore resetting any codes or other security features you have set.

However, these features will only protect your devices if they are switched on, and notifying the police as quickly as possible makes recovery much more likely. A variety of tracking ‘apps’ are available for Apple, Android, Windows and other mobile devices and are easy to download and usually free. The ‘apps’ can be activated remotely via internet enabled devices, such as PCs, smart phones or tablets.

If a device which has a tracking ‘app’ installed has been lost – the owner can locate the device and collect it themselves. However, if a phone has been stolen the owner should call the police as soon as possible, as they may be able to track the phone, recover it and make an arrest.

If you believe your mobile device has been stolen call the police non-emergency number 101. If you are able to report the theft while it is progress, call 999 and give the call-taker your tracking app details.

It is strongly recommended that owners contact the police rather than try to recover stolen devices themselves, as this could place them in a difficult or even dangerous situation. Lost devices that you can trace back to somewhere you have recently been will be safe to collect yourself, but if it is subsequently stolen or you remotely locate it to a place you have never been, please exercise caution and call the police for advice.

There are tracking apps available for Android, Apple, Windows and other devices, which can be downloaded from the appropriate application stores. More information on these apps can be found at: www.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/protecting-your-mobile-phone/.

Other steps you can take to make your mobile devices more secure:

• Only use apps from your accredited app store and look for the ones with the best ratings and feedback.
• Some devices have tracking apps pre-loaded but may need activating.
• Always lock your device when not in use.
• Use your device discreetly in public places.
• Never leave devices on tables in cafes, pubs etc or on display in the car.
• Register devices on the free online database www.immobilise.com. That way if it does get lost or stolen, police are able to return it to you if it is recovered.

Inspector Paul Lawrence, from the Crime Reduction Unit said: “Mobile devices are amongst the most commonly stolen items, as they are small, easy to sell on and can contain lots of valuable data. Most newer devices have a variety of security features, which can make it more difficult for thieves to steal and access your personal data, but only if they are installed and enabled.

“If you don’t have a tracking app installed on your devices and switched on, I would strongly urge you to do so. Not only will this help to recover your device if it is lost or stolen, it can also act as a deterrent if enough people start using these apps. You should also keep your devices locked when not in use, to ensure a thief cannot deactivate the app, and to protect your personal data.”


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