Mobile phones allow us to do much more than simply make calls, text and take photos. Online banking, social media and shopping are commonly accessed through our phones and many also contain valuable personal data.

To prevent your mobile becoming a tempting target for thieves, Safer New Forest and the Home Office have issued some simple steps to protect your mobile phone.

Check your mobile phone for security features that are intended to stop anyone else using it if it is stolen. These include:

  • creating a PIN code that locks your handset
  • tracing the location of, wiping data from, or locking your handset remotely using another internet-enabled device
  • needing to enter a separate password or account ID to prevent thieves from simply resetting your handset to its factory setting

More information about your phone’s security features can be found online at

If your mobile is lost or stolen, you need to be able to identify it. Each handset has a unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI) hardwired into it. Knowing the IMEI will help the police identify your handset if it is recovered. UK network operators will also prevent a stolen handset from working across their respective networks if they know its IMEI.

You can find your handset’s IMEI by:

  • typing *#06# into the keypad of your handset
  • looking inside the battery or SIM card compartment of your handset
  • looking on the side of the box, or on the associated paperwork, that you received when purchasing the handset

When you are using your mobile away from home, protect your handset from opportunist thieves:

  • Busy locations such as concert venues, shopping centres, and public transport (where close contact with others is normal) are popular places for pickpockets, especially if your handset is visible in an open bag, or hanging out of your back pocket
  • Thinking about when you use your phone – outside underground stations can be popular venues for snatch theft, as people instinctively get their handsets out to check for signal and any missed calls
  • Don’t leave your handset unattended in public places – you would not leave your wallet unattended, but a surprising number of people leave their mobile phone on the table while they go to the bar to order a drink, or go to the toilet
  • Be aware of distraction thieves – your mobile could be stolen from you by thieves creating a distraction, such as asking for directions or handing out leaflets.

Cllr Jill Cleary, NFDC portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “I urge all mobile phone users to follow this advice and protect themselves from becoming victims of theft.”