Security 101

If Your Device Was Stolen, Go to the Police (and Other Friendly Advice)

Prey, Defeating Theft

We’ve been recently hearing a lot about the potential dangers of using a tracking app to locate a stolen phone, tablet or laptop and going straight to the thief’s lair to retrieve it all by yourself.

There are tragic, heartbreaking cases that have one thing in common: regular people confronting potential criminals to retrieve their devices. The results can be devastating, and the fact that a security service similar to ours was involved really kindled our need to advise you on this – on what to do when, report in hand, you know who has stolen your phone and exactly where they are.

So, you know the thief’s location. You even know their face. You probably want to punch said face.

We know that burning urge. Don’t act on it.

Our advice:
Don’t ever try to retrieve a stolen device all by yourself.

We would never, ever encourage someone to potentially risk their safety dealing with the people that might have your device, and we can’t stretch this point enough. Here at Prey we are all about safety and security – of your devices, your data… and your personal integrity. How could we call ourselves a security solution otherwise?

But I know where my precious phone is! I need it back right now!
No….Then, what should I do?


Do not even think about it twice. Our reporting feature proves to be useful as evidence – print the reports out and bring it to them: it’ll provide crucial information to efficiently start the recovery process, while keeping you completely safe.

We strongly encourage to present our reports to the police, then let them, trained professionals, handle the tricky part of the recovery.

To sum it up, this is what we suggest to do if any of your devices were stolen:

  • Mark them as missing, let Prey work its magic.
  • Gather the reports as evidence
  • Present said reports to the police
  • Let them handle the recovery

Is there anything else to do? Sure. Trying to gather as much information as possible will always be useful, especially for the police.

  • Ask for security camera footage from the area where your device was stolen
  • Call your phone. Try to get some information about the thief, lie if you must (by offering something they can’t refuse — maybe a Netflix account? You know how Netflix junkies are everywhere). It might not work, but it’s worth a try.
  • Seek witnesses of the theft. They might remember something you, adrenaline rush and all, forgot.

You see, we know your phone, your laptop and your tablet contain your entire life in them. Your thesis, your embarrassing endless sessions of selfies, the faces of your children before they grew up oh so fast.

None of this is a good enough reason to put your safety at risk.

If you already know where your stolen device is, don’t take justice in your hands.

Go to the police.

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.