With the rise in popularity of smartphones, tablet computers and other small portable electronic devices, keeping these valuables safe has never been so important. And the same technology which makes these items so popular is also helping thousands of local people - and the police - to do just that.
Tracker applications use your device's internet connection and in-built global positioning system to plot the location of your phone or tablet.
Some enable you to get the device to make a ringing sound if you're within earshot, others send instructional voice and text messages to the device so that the finder knows what to do with your property. Other applications will even allow you to remotely activate your device's camera to capture the face and surroundings of a thief.
Of course these applications are no replacement for good home, vehicle or personal security but they are a useful tool to protect your personal data and to help you to get reunited with your device should it be lost or stolen.
West Midlands Police cannot recommend specific products but in most instances, these functions are free and already pre-loaded on your smartphone or tablet and just have to be activated.
For others you will need to download an app which meets your devices specifications and own personal requirements. Refer to your device's instructions manual or speak to your service provider. You can also find lots of information online with many apps which you need to pay for rated by those who've already bought them.
It goes without saying that when making online purchases you should be on your guard against online fraud but as well as making use of tracker apps, we’d also highly recommend registering these and other valuables for free on the secure national police property register immobilise.com. We search this database when we recover items and are regularly able to reunite people with their possessions.
Remember, if your device has been stolen and you later track it through one of these apps, let the officer dealing with your case know that you have traced it. Never be tempted to attend the location to recover the property yourself.
When a mobile phone is made it is given a unique electronic serial number known as the IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity.
This number is needed if your phone is stolen and needs to be blocked.
You can get this number yourself. (You will also need it if you report the loss to the Police or insurance company).
Two ways in which you can find out what your IMEI number is:
Mobile phone tracking devices can now assist the police in tracking your phone if it is lost or stolen.
There are many phone tracking devices which can be downloaded, which locate the current position of a mobile phone through GPS.
To report a phone lost or stolen it would be useful for you to have your IMEI number available.
If your phone has been stolen contact the police on 101 and report the crime. They will then be able to mark it as stolen on the national database using your IMEI number. In addition inform your network provider who will block your phone and stop it from working within 48 hours.