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My phone was stolen and I couldn’t do sh**

Old, new, cheap, expensive; no phone is safe if you’re careless

Technology begets usage. Just possessing a piece of tech and knowing how to use it is not enough. You need to put that knowledge to use. If not, you might as well just give it to someone who will. I think that’s what I did with my phone recently when I “gave” it to a pickpocket.

Before you start with the “did you do this, did you do that” etc, let me tell you right now – the overall answer is yes and no. My phone was a recently purchased Redmi 4A – one that was obtained with patience, a super-responsive mouse and the offering of three goats to the gods of e-commerce flash sales.

Now, on Android, there are multiple ways to deal with a lost device. You could use the Android device manager to set up a couple of security features on your phone. You could enable Lock and Erase to be able to remotely perform those actions once your device was lost. You could also use MIUI’s own Mi Cloud app for its security measures. Those who are familiar with MIUI will know that the Mi Cloud app offers its own set of security features. On any Xiaomi smartphone, you can activate location tracking by going to Settings> Mi Account> Mi Cloud. This can be tracked from i.mi.com, which also allows you to lock or erase your device remotely. You can even use a couple of apps like Cerberus which takes things one step further. Features like sending an email/SMS from an unauthorised SIM card, taking a picture whenever the wrong pin is entered, disabling the power button etc practically ensures that any thief would regret taking your phone.

Mi find my device
Credit: Mi Forum

The pointlessness of it

And what’s the point of knowing all of the above if you didn’t do any of it? Zero. Zilch. Null.

And that’s exactly what I did – nothing (before and after the incident). After my phone was stolen, I panicked, forgetting any of the above steps (ones that I could have taken after the theft) and went back to the area hoping that I had just dropped it. Later, all I could do was see it come alive once a few kilometres away before vanishing forever. My lack of precautions came from overconfidence over my alertness – something that was of no use to me when boarding a crowded bus.

Apart from overconfidence, another reason why I didn’t have any of the above precautions enabled was storage space. I prioritised other apps over security apps and chose to skip apps like Cerberus and save some space for stuff like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Mighty good that did me.

Worth it?

*Deep breath* Okay, I’m done ranting about my own mistakes, now onto the thief. It was a Redmi 4A! The phone’s worth only Rs. 6000! I mean, if the guy who stole my phone were to get caught (had I taken the above security measures that is) it would have landed him behind bars (or he would have to “settle” for a princely sum of his own). Not at all worth a mere 4-5k in a city like Mumbai. On top of that, even though it is a pretty recent phone, once the IMEI is blocked, it is as good as useless.

Law abiding citizen

Lastly, another aspect of this entire situation that I have a problem with is law enforcement. One of the first things that I felt when my phone was stolen was that going to the police would be of no use and I might even be ridiculed if I try to register a proper complaint regarding the theft. Well, even if that was my pessimism talking, the same sentiment was reciprocated by a number of acquaintances. The only reason most people still asked me to go to the police was so that the IMEI would be blocked before my phone could be misused. While I am not saying I have a problem with any specific authority, why should the law enforcement let the general perception regarding themselves be like this? Shouldn’t it be the exact opposite?

This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.