How to mug off your smartphone thief

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how the “Find my iPhone” app had helped British Transport Police both recover a stolen iPhone and arrest the thief.

At the end of the post, I speculated that in the future smartphones would be able to:

“scan any new user’s retina to confirm it has been stolen,  and then report the crime itself (by e-mail, text or Twitter), complete with a photo of the thief and current GPS details”.

Well, it’s taken just six months for my science fiction to become science fact.

Kaspersky’s mobile security app for Android smartphones can help users locate their missing phone and take pictures of the phone’s surroundings.

A recent article on Mashable explains how a new web-based control centre can activate a “Mugshot” feature that accesses a lost or stolen phone’s forward-facing camera and captures photos of whatever or whomever might be in front of the lens.

Photos are secretly taken – so if your phone is with a thief he or she will not know the pics are being taken – and captured photos can be viewed directly through the app’s web-based control center or emailed to a pre-determined address.

So, if you’ve just lost your phone, the photos will show where it is -possibly via a nice picture of the underneath of your steering wheel.

But if it’s been stolen, you might well end up with a photo of the actual thief.

As well as being able to access your phone’s camera, the app also allows you to  locate a lost or stolen phone using GPS and Google Maps. You can also review logs of recent activities on your smartphone, and even find out of the SIM card in the handset has been removed or replaced.

What a fantastic example of high-tech, low-cost (£8.95) 21st Century crime prevention.

I think the next iteration must be to equip the next generation of  phones with pepper spray which can be deployed remotely.


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