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It's an unfortunate fact that the pricey pocket computers we carry around with us at all times are prime targets for thieves—as well as very easy to leave behind in subway cars or on coffee shop tables. Now that we all rely on our smartphones for so much, having one stolen or misplaced can feel like the end of the world.

We are not bothered about the life-saving apps until we lost our Smart Phone or PC. Once something happens badly, we will run behind the apps to track the device.

But, by taking the correct Preemptive Measures/precautions beforehand, we can reduce the likelihood of crooks accessing our data, and make it easier to find our phone’s location. We can even make the phone itself pretty much useless to the thieves or anyone they sell it to.

And my question is what are the Preemptive Measures You Should Do Before—And After—You Lose Your Phone?

  • Safeguarding android device

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Secure your device (before it is lost or stolen)

Set a PIN or password

The most important security measure on an Android Smartphone is to set an PIN or password.

An unprotected device is directly accessible to every one if you have lost it while it was running.

For a the length of the PIN/password at least five or better six digits are recommended.

A pattern lock is also possible but not recommended as it is easier to crack and in case of an broken display it will will prevent you from accessing your device as it can't be solved with an attached keyboard.

Set or keep the PIN for the SIM

If your SIM allows for unlimited calls and does not have a PIN, someone might use the SIM even if he/she cannot use the phone. So it's better to keep the default PIN, or set one. You would have to unlock the SIM once after powering on the phone. Disadvantage: You'll have to remember it (Only three attempts allowed).

Do not unlock bootloader or root the device

From the perspective of an attacker that have found or stolen your device an open bootloader simplifies a lot of attacks. Hence the general rule for secure devices is not to unlock the bootloader or root your device.

Know the device IMEI

If your device has been stolen you may want to complain this to the police. In such a case you need some device details like Phone brand and model number and the most important the device IMEI (most mobile network operators have IMEI blacklists of stolen devices). Usually the IMEI is printed on the boy the device is shipped in. Hence as long as you keep this box everything is fine. If not you can use your phone to display the IMEI by entering *#06# in to the Telephone/dialer app. After entering the last dash immediately a dialog show pops up showing your IMEI.

After the device is gone

Worst case

To say the truth if your device has been stolen and the thief is not an idiot your device is gone. No GPS/cell tower/Wifi location technology or whatever can locate the device or send back the location it the device is in a electrostatic shielded bag. Hence if your device has been stolen and you were unprepared it is now too late.

Other cases

If you just lost your device or the thief is a complete idiot you may be able to use one of the location trackers. Regular Android devices that are "Google enabled" (Google Play Services and Google PlayStore installed and equipped with an active Google account) can simply use the Google Find My Device functionality.

Note that in case you have enabled two-factor authentication on your Google account make sure you have some backup codes in place. Because if logging into your Google account requires you to have access to your (now lost/stolen) Android phone you can't login and hence not locate your device.

I strongly recommend to test Find My Device while you still have access to your device just to ensure the functionality is really working.

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  • Note on IMEI: Once a phone of mine had been stolen, and I went to the police telling them the IMEI, hoping it would help to get my phone back. It did not. Maybe that information had just never been used...
    – U. Windl
    Sep 16, 2022 at 10:36
  • @U.Windl The IMEI is only useful if the police by chance finds your phone. In such a case they can use the IMEI to identify that the phone is yours. But they usually do not actively search for your phone.
    – Robert
    Sep 16, 2022 at 11:39
  • OK, I thought they'd pass it on to the telecommunication providers, so if it joins the network...
    – U. Windl
    Sep 16, 2022 at 12:11
  • @U.Windl I am not sure if they still pass IMEI to MNOs. But I know that MNOs do not do anything because forged/wrong IMEIs are so common that blocking theft IMEI does not work.
    – Robert
    Sep 16, 2022 at 12:32

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