My phone is lost or was stolen - now what?


#1

A missing smart phone is easier to find than ever. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your phone to be found, and how to find it when it’s gone AWOL.

  • Before you lose it
  • If your phone might be stolen
  • Find your phone
  • What if Android Device Manager can’t find it? (Defy XT only)
  • Replacing your lost or stolen phone

Before you lose it

Google recently added a new feature called Android Device Manager (ADM) to our phones (via an updated Google Play Services), making it unnecessary to install an app to find lost phones. That leaves just these precautions and settings to improve your chances of finding the phone:

Moto X / G / E Users

  • Add a ‘Found my phone?’ message to the lock screen. Under Settings / Security / Owner info, you can add whatever text you’d like to appear on the lock screen. My message says “If found, please call xxx-xxx-xxxx”.
  • ***Moto-XG-KitKat-Location.pngAllow apps to use your location. ***Open Settings and under Location, insure that the slider switch is ON and that the Mode is set to Device only or High Accuracy.
  • Service plans with 3G or 4G data are needed to reliably locate the phone when it has no Wi-Fi connection.

Defy XT Users

  • ***Make sure you have a data connection at all times. ***Under Settings / Wireless & networks / Mobile networks, insure that both Data enabled and Data roaming are checked (ignore the warning about roaming charges, there aren’t any). If you enable Airplane mode to save power in Wi-Fi areas, be sure to disable it when going mobile.
  • Enable GPS. Under Settings / Location, check the box for GPS satellites.

gps4.pngWon’t enabling GPS kill my battery?

Various sources, even official ones such as Motorola, may tell you that enabling the GPS radio receiver is a significant battery drain. That’s simply not true. It’s apps that use GPS to track your location continuously or repeatedly that drain the battery. So be aware of apps you’ve downloaded that may use GPS behind your back, and either disable them from doing so, or remove them. If you don’t see the GPS activity indicator on the notification bar, the GPS radio isn’t using any power.

All Phones

  • Enable ADM features.**adm-phone.png Open the Google Settings app, and under Android Device Manager, enable Remotely locate this device. Optionally you can also enable Allow remote lock and factory erase. Those options permit your Google account to establish a screen locking PIN or password, or factory reset (erase) the phone. Enabling those options has some risk, however - be sure your Google account has a strong password, otherwise a hacker who breaks into your account could lock you out of your phone or erase it.
  • Keep it charged. Your phone can only respond to “where are you?” requests if it has battery power and is turned on. The longer it remains alive after being lost, the better your chance of finding it.

If your phone might be stolen

If you think the phone was stolen, and you can locate it using the techniques that follow, contact the police and tell them where it is. Don’t confront a thief who might react violently.

Find your phone

From a Web Browser

  1. Visit Google’s Android Device Manager website and sign in with the Google account used for the phone. The first time you will have to agree to let Google track your phone.
  2. adm-located-crop.pngADM will locate your most recently used Android device associated with that Google account and show you the location. If you have multiple devices you can click the down-arrow to the right of the name to choose another device.
  3. If the phone is nearby, you can click the Ring button to help find it (the phone will ring continuously up to 5 minutes, or until you find it and press the power button).
  4. You can also enable a screen lock PIN/password or erase your phone (if you enabled those options before it was lost or stolen).

From Another Android Phone or Tablet

What if Android Device Manager can’t find it? (Defy XT only)

If you didn’t enable GPS or permit remote location reporting, ADM may respond with Location unavailable or an imprecise location. You can try the following instead, which can enable the phone’s GPS and possibly get a fix on it:

  1. Visit Plan B - Android Apps on Google Play, sign-in with the Gmail address used for the phone, and click Install to cause the app to be installed on your phone.
  2. Access the mailbox for the phone’s Gmail address and watch for E-mail messages with your phone’s location to arrive. Usually this takes just a few minutes.

Note: Your remote installation of Plan B will be obvious to anyone who is using your phone - it may tip off a thief that you’re looking for it and know where it is.

Replacing your lost or stolen phone

If none of the phone-finding techniques above work, see:

Defy XT: Lost, Stolen or Damaged

Moto X: Lost, Stolen or Damaged

Moto G: Lost, Stolen or Damaged

Moto E: Lost, Stolen or Damaged


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#2

EXCELLENT post. A true testament to the power of the RW Community. This really meets the needs of a lot of people on the forums and you give a great breakdown of options depending on the situation. Great job! Woot woot!


#3

Thanks for writing this up. Excellent steps to follow.

I would add that an anti-theft app like GotYa! is pretty effective in the “Before you lose it” phase. The advantages of GotYa! are that you don’t have to leave your GPS on (it turns it on as needed) and you get a picture of the person who stole your phone emailed to you along with their location. You can configure it to continue to send pictures and location every time they use the device. You can send text codes to the phone to make it do configurable tasks (sound alarm, lock device, location request, display message, etc.)

Not free, but really cheap for a one time fee of $1.99.


#4

I just set up android device manager and tested out some of the features, now I have a quick question.

When my phone is set to silent/vibrate only mode, using the “ring handset” feature in Device Manager doesn’t work. If the phone is set to ring normally, device manager rings the phone perfectly, otherwise nothing…not even a vibrate.

This is a bit of a problem because I always leave my phone on vibrate. Any thoughts or suggestions?


#5

Mine fails to ring too, which is interesting, because silent mode isn’t supposed to inhibit it. A little web searching shows that others are reporting this with other devices. Hopefully the next update to Google Play Services (the app that bundles Android Device Manager) will fix it.


#6

Try this at home – Added a new “Find my phone” command to Touchless Control. Just say “OK, Google Now-find my phone” and your Moto X will ring loudly to let you know where it’s hiding when you’ve misplaced it nearby. It worked for me

Release Notes - Verizon Moto X - Android 4.4, KitKat


#7

Republic needs to work on getting the $10 and $5 plans Android device manager. If the phone isn’t connected to wifi, android device manager is useless because it can’t find the phone, which means that just so long as the thief doesn’t connect it to wifi, you can’t find your phone (Message: make restricted data available.)


#8

while I agree with doing this on the $10 dollar plan I don’t think the $5 plan is doable unless they provision the phone on the sprint network (give it a sprint number) other wise there no way to link the phone to the cell towers for the data.


#9

I like your suggestion. What I did is set up a special ring tone, should I misplace my phone I call my cell from my land line phone. Essentially, the ring tone is my voice saying “Here I am, can’t you see me?” I made the recording long so I would have enough time to find the phone. This has come in handy several times already.


#10

I am recently without my phone. Not sure if it is lost or stolenphone, but regardless, I have picked up a few tips from the thread I announced my misfortune in.

First, I recommend, on your home computer or another Android device, using Android Device Manager. I found my phone (via GPS, “accurate to 11 meters”), added a call home button (ADM lets you do this from the web interface) and changed the lock pattern to a long alphanumeric.

Second, change all the passwords to services you sign on using your phone/Chrome. For me, I changed passwords for Google, Netflix, Amazon, Skype, Flixster, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and a few other apps. But remember Chrome saves passwords too, so especially if you save any personally identifying (health, banking, credit, professional) sites’ pw’s saved in Chrome, make sure to change those too!!! These services will differ for you. Make sure you log out of the service, then out of Chrome. Then sign in again. If you have problems, go to Chrome Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Settings - Passwords and check to see how many passwords there are for the service you are having problems with. I had a lot of problems with Chrome getting my passwords right.

Third, if you want to sync pictures etc so as not to lose them, you can try:

Plan B

Android Lost

Fourth, for other options with security:

Avast Mobile Security

Do you want to wipe your phone with Android Device Manager? I don’t know. If it protects your data then yes. If it protects your identity or credit, absolutely. But doing so may wipe the call home button and lock on the screen. I believe it unlocks the phone too, allowing the thief to simply sell it free and clear. I am not sure about this exactly though.


#11

One thing that is really helpful that would be a good thing to add to your post, is, android device manager or maybe android itself has a feature where it will report its location every so often to google and have it logged on your google account so you can see where your phone has been. To find it, just google google location history or go to this address: https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0 . Also, just as a reference for this feature, if you scroll to the bottom of the screen, it has an option that says show all points which instead of showing you hourly or so often check in’s summed up, it will show you every single checkin your phone reported with it’s location (usually in around 5 minute increments). Hope that helps everyone! It’s a really great feature to have if your phone is lost or stolen!!


#12

Thanks for sharing this @carlh. The Android device manager was a big time help today. I realized at work today that I didn’t have my phone with me. So, bordering on panic, I started checking around my desk under papers, nothing. Hitting up the Device Manager, plus that I was sure I had it with me since I last entered the building, I was able to hit the option to ring at full volume. I found that I had set it on a storage shelf as I grabbed a fax machine to prepare it to replace a defective.

So, yeah, great stuff, and thanks for sharing.


#13

I am trying to receive my motto G and track the delivery on fedex site. Reference no. and tracking no. are no help


#14

@mariew.dhah45,please do not post unrelated remarks or questions into an existing discussion, question or blog. To get help, either start a new question or open a support ticket with Republic.

(Feel free to delete your post here after you’ve posted the question in the Open Mic section, or I’ll remove it next time I notice it.)


#15

EXCELLENT ! Now I have more ways to find my phone if it is lost. I want to share a way I know. Since my last phone lost, I was recommended to install monitoring software like iKeyMonitor http://goo.gl/E3lzfh which can be used to track my lost phone. But I should install it before phone lost. Anyway making preperation is good than not.


#16

SET UP A VOICEMAIL PASSWORD… If you have a voicemail password, you’ll be able to pick up messages left at your number, from another phone. Please set up a password when you get your phone.


#17

@philh, that’s a good general recommendation that extends beyond lost/stolen phones to broken phones as well. It should be on a “to-do” list for a new phone that’s included in the box.


#18

Thanks Carl. I suspect many new customers do not do that and then cannot get messages if they have any kind of trouble. It would be good on a welcome ‘to-do’ list or maybe some default password could be provisioned from the start, either defined by user during sign up or just defined as zip code of billing address or such.


#19
  • It is the 1st item under the Security section of First 30 Days Guide
  • Also found in the First things first section of the Moto Help (?) app that is present on all the Moto X/G/E
    Help-RW App.jpg

Ben ~ a Community member - not an employee of Republic


#20

I know this is an older post but after spending an hour driving all over retracing my steps I tried the device mgr only to locate the phone under my car seat. Even though I called the number I could never hear it ring. This info has saved me time money and lots of grief. Can’t thank you enough.