A couple of days ago, I just happened to be in one of the less salubrious parts of London, and had the misfortune of being the victim of a rather violent mugging. Though the actual rolling-around-on-the-floor-getting-kicked part was over pretty quickly, I’ve been struggling to get my life back in order ever since. He’s a checklist of stuff to do if the same happens to you.
This one’s gotta be near the top of your list. Chances are, if you’re enlightened enough to be reading this blog, you’ve got a smartphone with half of your life on it: contacts, emails, probably some bank stuff as well. Your first line of defence should be your passcode; set one, and you’ve bought yourself some time. Next on your to-do should be a remote wipe of some kind.
If you’ve got an iPhone (and you’ve got Find My Phone enabled), this is a piece of piss. In fact, the rather nice police officers who came to my rescue after the mugging had an iPad in their patrol car; from there, I could log into iCloud and do the business. As well as letting you wipe your phone, Find My Phone will let you ping the location of the phone (providing the phone’s turned on). Sadly, my phone was out of battery at the time; nonetheless, it’s totally a worthwhile thing to set up. (It also gave me a moment of hope, where I imagined finding the arsehole’s location and sallying forth with a van-load of riot-gear-clad bobbies in tow to recover my phone. Sadly this didn’t happen — score one for not remembering to charge my phone.)
If you’re on Android or Windows Phone, it’s equally easy. Android doesn’t have a remote find (or erase) built in, but there’s a whole plethroa of apps availabe. (Lookout and Android Lost are two of the best.) Windows Phone has it built-in; just go to www.windowsphone.com, log in and go to My Phone. BlackBerry phones can use the Blackberry Protect app to do the same, or, if it’s a business phone synced to a BlackBerry Enterprise server, your company’s IT department should be able to wipe it for you. (Let’s be honest though, if you’ve had a BlackBerry nicked, you’re probably glad to see the damn thing gone.)
It’s worth saying that all of these apps only work if the phone is still on and connected to the internet. Any criminal worth his salt will probably be frantically stabbing at the power button as soon as he’s ripped it out of your hands; still, given the intelligence of lowlife bottom-feeders who go about beating up people for their phones, it’s worth a stab.
Again, this should go without saying. Even if they don’t beat your PIN out of you, it’s still possible to buy stuff online. Don’t take the risk. All major banks have 24-hour lost or stolen helplines who’ll help you cancel your card, and they should be able to void any recent transactions as well.
This is only really possible if you’ve registered your Oyster card. Registration is simple enough to be done by a one-armed orang-utan, and it’s nice to be able to recover that weekly travelcard you shelled a not insignificant chunk of change out for.
There’s lots of reasons to do this, but the main one is revenge. When you’ve had your prized smartphone wrested from your hands, it’s nice to be able to marginally screw over the wankers responsible. If you call your network, not only will they cancel the SIM and stop the theives running up your bill on premium-rate phone sex, but they can put an IMEI block on the handset. This should stop the handset being registered on any UK networks, rendering it useless in this country. I mean hey, if you can’t have the phone, no-one can, right?
This is an annoying one, but necessary if they have your wallet and your keys. Chances are, something in your wallet’s got your address on it; with keys and address, your muggers are free to wander in any time and raid the place. Don’t let it happen — losing your phone is bad enough.
This is probably the biggest shag of all (I’m still in the process of doing it), but especially if you’ve been dense enough to use something like your date of birth/address in your passwords, they need changing pronto. Obvious things are bank passcodes, email accounts, iCloud… the list is depressingly long.
Hopefully, you’ve stuck your oh-so-precious phone on an insurance plan, so it should just be a matter of notifying whoever the provider is, then going on a little insurance-funded shopping spree. Possibly the only enjoyable part of the whole procedure. (Note: you’ll probably need your crime number to hand when you call the insurance. A crime reference number is provided by the police — you have called the police, right?)
Overall, it’s fair to say the whole thing is a massive ballache. After getting mugged, you probably want to be lying on the couch stuffing your face with ice cream and bemoaning the state of society. Trust me though, it’s worth taking these steps; it’ll help get you back up, running and working on a Liam Neeson Taken-inspired revenge plot all the sooner.
Just like to say thanks to the anonymous bystanders who witnessed it that stuck around to give your details to the police. Cheers guys.
Image credit: Mugger from Shutterstock