Do you keep in your pocket one of those latest and expensive smartphones? It always has one risk. You can either misplace them or someone can steal them from you. Yes, on gun point! That does happen at times in this part of the world. Here I’m going to tell you a real story about how we recovered a stolen phone without any help of police or intelligence!
A friend of mine recently had to go through such an incident. On my advice, he had bought an Android phone, running ICS and featuring a 4.3 inch display. He really liked the Android experience, and wanted me to pump up his phone. I rooted it, and for his safety, installed Avast’s Anti Theft application, which I keep on my phone as well.
Who knew one day we will have to rely on this app, for the purpose it was made for! That is, to recover lost or stolen Android phones. A couple of weeks back, he met with an accident while on bike, and during that, the phone slipped out of his pocket. Thankfully, he got away with just a few minor injuries but someone had stolen his phone!! He tried to call but the thief was clever. After a few rings, he turned off the phone and ran away!
The friend informed me quickly — I tried to contact the phone but it was off so no use. After 3-4 hours, he turned it on and dang! I got his approximate location. But how? Well, there’s a feature in Avast Anti-theft app through which you can mark the phone as “stolen” through an SMS command. It can also send you an SMS on a pre-defined number if the SIM gets changed, so you get informed about the new number that thief has changed to. There are more very useful, phone-saving commands which I’ll tell later.
I had immediately marked the phone as stolen by an SMS command, and when the thief opened that phone with original SIM still in place, the message got intercepted by Anti-theft app and I got the approximate location’s GPS coordinates which were calculated using the cell tower info and GPS. No internet, WiFi or data usage required! Though, if data connection or WiFi is available, it provides you a more precise location. If the set is rooted, they are forced-on by anti-theft app to provide location tracking.
Anyway, he turned off the phone again but I had got the location, which was just outside my city. It was also approximate. We thought to give it more time, maybe he’ll turn it on again. But…. we heard nothing from the app for two weeks. I thought maybe he has somehow removed it, but it was also in my mind that he can’t! Because it was a rooted installation of Anti-theft app, which is not removed even if you factory-reset the phone.
Finally a few days back, after a wait of 2 long weeks, I got a message which took me by surprise. It was by Anti-theft app!! Someone had inserted another SIM card and turned on the phone. I got the new number through that SMS, and we called him. Friend made the call, I told him to act ‘CIA’ish and tell him we’re going to come after him, we can track him and are going to inform the police if he doesn’t give the phone back. He just said: “I’m a shopkeeper, I own a mobile shop and a customer had given me this set to unlock it…” (there was a code-lock on Homescreen). We asked about shop’s location but he didn’t respond and disconnected the call.
We started thinking about our next step. But wait, there’s a call coming… and it’s him! The shop owner. He called us back, and told about the location of the shop and asked to come in the evening. He said he had nothing to do with the matter, the phone was given to him by a customer.
We couldn’t believe it. Avast Anti-Theft had done its job!!! We planned our own “raid” on his shop, without any police’s help. Took a few guys with us and off we went!
Went there, owner of the plaza also came to his shop, perhaps he had prepared in advance for our “raid”. Anyway, he intervened and said the customer had sold the mobile on him. He actually wanted us to pay some money to the shopkeeper. We didn’t agree, negotiations continued and finally we were given the mobile phone back, unharmed, in a single piece!!
So that was it!! A success story. What should we call it, Android intelligence? This should show you how to recover a lost or stolen phone. For this to be successful, you should root your Android phone and install Avast-antitheft in it, as a rooted installation. The best thing, it is a free app!
There are some more SMS commands in it. Like you can enable continuous location tracking after x seconds. You can retreive the messages from the phone remotely, wipe the phone, lock the phone, sound a siren and many more, all through SMS commands. No internet required!
To install Avast anti-theft, download it from Google’s Play store. It is actually Avast Mobile Security, a bundle of antivirus, firewall and anti-theft. After installation, you MUST SETUP anti-theft and set it as a device administrator to survive factory resets. Give in a few phone numbers through which you want to control your phone in case if it lost.
After setting up anti-theft, you can uninstall the Mobile Security. Anti-theft will still keep running, which you can access by dialing in your secret code through phone’s dial pad.
Good luck and keep your phones secure!