Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to recover a lost or stolen cell phone

This post is in 2 parts. The first part is for the impatient ones who just want the data. The second part is the (hopefully!) interesting story of how this knowledge was gained.

Part 1 - steps to recover a lost cell phone (in brief)

  1. Find the box of your lost/stolen phone. If you are thinking ahead and still have your phone with you, open it up and pull out the battery. Note the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number that is printed on the box or below the battery in the phone. On some phones you can get this by dialling '#06#'.  If you've already lost your phone and can't find the box, then your sorta sunk, sorry!!
  2. Take the IMEI number to the local cyber crime cell. There you have to fill up a form and attach your proof of residence as well as the bill of the phone (if you've lost this, then you need an extra dose of charm!!)
  3. Then wait and if and when the friendly neighbourhood cell phone thief puts in a new SIM card, the police will track it and you will get your phone back.
  4. If you have phone tracking software like WaveSecure, then as soon as a new SIM goes into your phone, the person you specify will receive a message with the new SIM number. Take that to the police and you will have your phone in a day!

Part 2 - the story

Losing a cellular phone in today's world is a severe strain. Unless you are the careful type of person who has all the data stored on a computer or (and I doubt there are very many of these) as a hard copy, it is a major inconvenience to have to start making contacts all over again. And of course, if the phone is expensive, it adds to the stress. Well, Amy had her phone stolen 3 weeks back. And now she has it back. And this is the story of how it happened.

Obviously in Ludhiana, cell phone theft is a big racket and I have a sinking suspicion that the police are involved (more on that later). In the last 3 weeks, I know of 3 people who have had their cell phones stolen. In Shillong, I heard of one such incident in 2 and a half years!! The evening I arrived in Ludhiana with my brother, having carted most of our earthly possessions all the way from Shillong by train, Amy decided to show her 2 country bumpkins (my brother is based in the interior hinterlands of Orissa) the wonders of a big city and we all trooped off to a mall. Unfortunately it did not turn out to be such a pleasant experience as 2 minutes after we entered, Amy discovered she had lost her phone. She had had it in the taxi on the way and so it had obviously been lost in the 5 minutes between the taxi and the mall. We called the phone pronto, but it had already been switched off. Which obviously meant it had been stolen. The two prime suspects were the taxi driver and the security guard who had checked her purse in the mall. We accosted both these individuals and also retraced our steps for the next half hour or so, to no avail. And that, as I thought, was the end of that....

Fortunately, my wife is made of sterner stuff. Her moral obligations as a citizen made her believe that she needed to report this to at least attempt to make a difference. And her 'encouragement' was strong enough to rouse me from my general laziness! So we trooped along to the local police station to begin our attempt to recover the phone. I thought it was a wild goose chase, but as it turned out, for once, I was wrong!

But the process was convoluted. We went first to the local police station, then to the cyber crimes cell, then to the community police cell (where we submitted the forms) and then back to the cyber crimes cell with the duly completed and stamped forms. Since all these stations and cells were in different parts of Ludhiana, it took us the better part of the morning! Fortunately, Amy had WaveSecure installed on her phone when we bought it. This is a programme which sends an SMS to a 'buddy' phone whenever a new SIM is inserted. So when the message with the new number came to my phone, we promptly gave it in to the police. And the next day, Amy had her phone back!

Now here is the interesting part. When Amy asked the police who had stolen the phone, they were extremely cagey about it. After much questioning, they finally gave some vague answers and told her that she should be happy to have got her phone back and not to worry about anything else. The next day, she realised the memory card of the phone was missing. She called the police and informed them and sure enough, the next day, they had it and were even more cagey about how they had achieved this level of excellence! It seemed all was not right, but then, we had got the phone back after all, and I was not around to pick up a fight, having already left for the next leg of my travels!!

So that is the story of how we got Amy's phone back. So if you do have the misfortune of losing your phone, take heart. There is a good chance that you will get it back. So long as you have the IMEI number! Or WaveSecure!!

P.S. This is an infographic from the WaveSecure blog. And no, I am not receiving any money for this advertisement!! Click on the picture to enlarge.

1 comment:

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