Most smartphones come with a GPS locator app already installed, or users can find an assortment of apps online designed to locate lost or stolen smartphones. However, caution should be urged before doing so.
An 18-year-old Canadian boy was killed last week after he tracked his stolen smartphone. Jeremy Cook left his cell phone in a taxi cab and when he determined the location, he and a relative went to retrieve it. He confronted the criminals who stole it and was shot and killed while trying to get it back.
If you leave your phone behind in a public place like a restaurant or at a business, it is typically safe to go retrieve it. If it is at a private residence or in an isolated area, caution should be taken.
There are five steps that you need to take to do so safely:
- Do not go where the phone is located without law enforcement officials. Do not involve friends or family.
- Contact the police in the jurisdiction where the phone is located. Ask them to meet you at the location.
- Have proof of the whereabouts of your phone with you so that police can show the potential thieves why they are being questioned.
- Install apps (or adjust your phone's security settings) that will allow you to remotely wipe your phone immediately once you learn it has been lost or stolen. This way your valuable information will not be jeopardized.
- Be willing to write the phone off if it cannot be safely retrieved by law enforcement. Have replacement insurance on your phone.
Most people don't think about locator apps until their phones are stolen. There are hundreds on the market, however, if your phone (or any other device) is connected to your Google account and connected to the internet, it can still be tracked with no app required.
Remember, no electronic device is worth your life.
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