Gardaí are appealing for smartphone owners to be ‘Streetwise’ by downloading a trusted ‘Find My Phone’ app and adding an emergency contact number to their phone because only 10 per cent of the €5m worth of mobile phones stolen in the last 18 months have been recovered.
The appeal follows the release of figures by the Garda Síochána Analysis Service which shows that 11,488 mobile phones have been stolen since the beginning of 2019. Of those, only 1,176 have been recovered.
Some 107 phones were stolen in Mayo, which was among the lowest in the country, while there were 324 mobile phones stolen in Galway in the same period. The figure for Sligo/Leitrim was 98 and Roscommon/Longford had 78 stolen. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the thefts occurred in Dublin with the South Central Garda District recording 2,868 mobile phone thefts.
Crime Prevention Officer for the Meath Division, Sergeant Dean Kerins said:
“The price of mobile phones makes them a clear target for criminals, so let’s try and deter them by increasing phone security. If you have a smartphone, we recommend downloading a trusted location finder app so if it is lost or stolen, you have a better chance of getting it back. Some phones already have a feature like this already so have a look in the security settings on your phone.
“We also highly recommend that you add a family member or friend as an emergency contact in your phone. If we receive a lost or stolen phone, we will be able to contact that person. Our property stores throughout the country receive a lot of stolen and lost phones that we cannot trace the owners for. Adding the emergency contact will help solve this problem.
“Other preventative measures you can take include enabling the PIN Security feature, keeping your phone locked at all times, and property-mark it with unique personal letters or numbers.
“For those who do not own a smartphone, call *#06# on your keypad and note the IMEI number that comes up. This is a 15 digit number that is unique to your phone. If your phone is lost or stolen, call your service provider immediately so they can block the phone.
“If you believe your phone has been stolen, you should call Gardaí immediately. Do not follow the person via your tracking app,” warned Sergeant Kerins.
The most common place for phones to be stolen is out in public or in a licensed premises, so Gardaí are also advising the following:
· Be wary of your surroundings and mind your property.
· Plan your night out, how are you getting there and how are you getting back?
· Avoid walking alone in dark places.
· Keep your phone out of public view.
· Don’t leave your phone on display in a vehicle.
· Dial *#06# and save a screenshot of your IMEI number. Email the image to yourself.
· Keep your phone locked and enable as many security features as you can.
· Download or activate a trusted find my phone app.
· Add a relative or friend as an emergency contact on your phone.