1. Home
  2. Mobile
  3. Stolen smartphone what to do if your phone is taken

Stolen Smartphone: What to Do If Your Phone Is Taken

You check your pocket for that familiar rectangular. It’s not there. You panic. Where’s your phone? Liam Neeson can’t help. Heck, he’s probably had his phone stolen at some point too. 

What do you do when your phone disappears? What happens to your private data?

Stolen Phones The Facts

Phone Theft: Was Your Device Stolen?

“What do I do if I lost my phone,” you exclaim in exasperation. First, take a deep breath. Then determine if you’ve actually lost your phone or if it was stolen. A lost phone is easily replaced whereas a stolen phone requires more steps.

Loss vs Misplaced vs Stolen Phone

Losing your phone and misplacing it are two different issues. For those of us who are forgetful, we may not remember where we put our phone, only to find it in the least expected place like the fridge. You went for a glass of water, you put your phone back instead of the Brita filter … we’ve all been there. Right?

A misplaced phone requires detective work. It’s in the last place you left it. Duh. But a lost or stolen phone, that’s tricky. There are many factors involved in retrieving a stolen iPhone or Android. Home invasions and robberies declined during the pandemic because we were all at home. It’s hard to rob someone’s dwelling when they’re there. 

According to a study done by Prey Project originally in 2019 and updated in 2022 , we’re most likely to misplace and lose our phones at home:

Misplaced Lost Stolen
Home Home / own car / private location Home
Office / work Street / public place Street
Street Office / work Public transit
Public transit / ride sharing Public transit / ride sharing School

*List based on Mobile Theft and Loss Report by Prey Project

You’ll notice in the above chart that home is where the heart is and also the place you’re most likely to see your phone disappear – whether it’s in the couch cushions or via theft. Once you’ve torn your dwelling apart and realize that your smartphone is nowhere to be found, you may be looking at a lost or stolen phone. Even though home invasions declined during the pandemic, we’re in a post-pandemic era where not only are we leaving the house, we’re going on trips.

top places to have your phone stolen

According to a survey done by Lookout in partnership with the FCC, Europeans are more likely to be pickpocketed than Americans. The data provided shows that 28% of Europeans will lose their phones to a pickpocket whereas, 11% of Americans will suffer the same fate.

Here’s where semantics come into play, once your phone is lost, it’s as good as stolen. Any unseemly character who comes across your lost phone is going to do their darndest to steal your data.

hand reaching for a misplaced smart phone

Dialing for Dollars: Phone Theft Stats

Secured locations like homes, offices, and schools account for 55.08% of phone thefts. On the other hand, unsecured locations like public transport, restaurants/bars, and streets, account for only 32.03% of phone larceny.

When we’re at home our guard may be down since we’re in our comfort zone. At the office and school, we’re focused on our work/studies and may ignore a missing phone for hours while we’re engrossed in our tasks.

But that’s not all:

  • 12% of phone theft leads to fraudulent chargers with 9% of that leading to identify theft
  • 60% of phone theft victims file police reports
  • 10% of theft victims don’t try and find their phones because they don’t know how
  • 44% of robberies occur because the victim left their phone unattended in a public space
  • 11% of stolen phones are lifted directly from our hands, pockets, purses, or bags

Another issue that directly correlates to phone theft is extortion. Those who fall victim to having their phone stolen are likely to pay $500-$1000 to get their personal data back (photos, videos, music, etc.).

An even scarier stat: 68% of stolen phone victims are willing to put themselves in danger to get their device back and retrieve their personal info. We do not recommend putting yourself in peril to get your phone back. There are safer steps you can take. More on that later.

Stolen Phone how do we respond

It’s Phone Theft O’Clock

Time is of the essence when it comes to stolen phones:

  • 40% of victims had their phones stolen between noon and 5 pm
  • 18% of stolen phone victims had their devices thieved between 10 pm – 5 am

top 5 things left in ubers

How to Track a Stolen Phone

Your phone’s been taken? Let’s get it back. According to the Lookout/FCC data, of the 76% of phones that are stolen, 39% are iPhones and 37% are Android devices.

How to Find a Lost iPhone

We’ll show you how to find a lost iPhone that is turned off too because some thieves are crafty enough to get your data even when your device isn’t on. Thieves, can’t trust ‘em.

Step 1: Sign into iCloud.com/find or use the Find My app on another Apple device like your iPad or Macbook

Step 2: Mark your device as lost by remotely locking it with your passcode.

  • In the Find My app, choose Devices or Items
  • Select your missing phone
  • Scroll down to Mark As Lost or Lost Mode
  • Select Activate or Enable and you will be prompted with specific steps relating to your device
  • Once done, hit Activate to lock your missing phone remotely

Step 3: This step is only for those who want to erase the data from their phone post-theft. If you do not want to erase your data, do not attempt this part of the tutorial.

  • Go to the Devices tab in the Find My app
  • Select the device you wish to erase
  • Choose Erase this Device
  • Select Erase

If you have AppleCare+ with a Theft and Loss clause, do not erase your device. Instead, file a claim with Apple.

screenshot of find my iphone feature

What if Find My isn’t activated or you have no way of downloading the app? Don’t fret. Change your Apple ID password on another device. You will also need to change your passwords for everything else you may use on your phone like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.

Next, you’ll need to figure out how to disable Apple Pay if you have it set up. Just kidding. You don’t have to figure anything out because we’ve done it for you!

Step 1: Visit applied.apple.com and log in

Step 2: Click on the device you want to remove payment from

Step 3: Click on the credit cards associated with that amount and hit Remove Card

Find My Android Phone

If you’ve added your Google account to your phone, Find My Device is automatically activated. However, you still need to find, lock, and if you choose, erase it.

Step 1: Visit android.com/find

Step 2: Sign in to your Google Account

Step 3: If you have more than one phone, click Lost at the top of the screen

Once done, the lost Android phone receives a notification and the map will show you where the phone is.

Step 4: Click Enable Lock & Erase

Step 5: Decide your action:

  • Play Sound – this causes your phone to ring loudly for 5 minutes (even if it’s set to vibrate or silent)
  • Secure Device – locks your phone and if you don’t have a password set up, you can add one
  • Erase Device – if erase your phone’s data, you will be disabling Find My Device

screenshot of find my android feature


How to Report a Stolen Phone

Filing a police report is the most common way to report a stolen smartphone. You may need the serial number to do this.

To find your iPhone’s serial number go to applied.apple.com and sign in with your Apple ID.

  • In the Devices section, you’ll be able to locate the IMEI/MEID and serial number
  • If you happen to have kept your phone’s original packaging, the numbers are on the barcode
  • You can also contact Apple support to get these numbers

For Android users, go to Google.com/dashboard, sign in, and under the Android tab, you’ll be able to get your IMEI number. If you have the original packaging, you’ll see the serial/IMEI number there as well.


E.T. Phone Home: How to Protect Your Device

Like everyone’s favorite 80s alien, we want to be in touch at all times. We’re constantly connected and a stolen phone really throws a wrench into our day-to-day activities. To protect yourself from potential theft:

  • Make sure your phone has a passcode and that you’re using strong passwords on all apps
  • If possible, use FaceID or fingerprint ID to unlock your devices
  • Ensure your device via your home insurance, AppleCare+, or your phone company provider
  • Turn on finder apps
  • Take note of your phone’s serial and IMEI number

Stolen iPhones and Androids are resalable without your data. We suggest backing up your data regularly through automatic backups so if you fall victim to phone theft, you can erase everything on your smartphone but still access your photos, videos, and other personal info like that pic of you from last Halloween that you don’t want anyone to see. You know the one. 
















Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.