Protecting Yourself Against Thieves

by AJ Pettersen · 7 comments

Thief robbing phone

Last weekend, my wife had her purse taken at a wedding reception. Losing her keys was the worst part; our apartment was over an hour away, and we were stranded without a car. She was also without a phone for a day, which added to the agony. Luckily, she didn’t have any credit cards or cash in her purse at the time, which really reduced our financial loss.

Have you ever had something stolen from you? What could she have done to reduce the chances of theft?

What to Do After Being Robbed

After something of yours is stolen, there are a few things you can do to try to get it back. My wife had a small camera stolen, so we checked online for people selling the same brand and model. Thieves often attempt to unload items over the internet. If you find something that you think is yours, don’t try to get it back yourself — contact the police.

Sometimes, thieves keep whatever cash they’ve stolen and discard the rest of the items. When searching for your belongings, check locations near the exit of where they were stolen.

If you have an Android phone stolen, there’s an application that will use GPS to track it. This will only work if the phone is on and has your sim card in it, so try it right after you find your phone missing.

David’s Note: iPhone has the feature built in called “Find My Phone.” I highly recommend playing around with the app while you still have your phone so you know how it works!

How to Protect Your Phone

Protecting yourself against thieves starts with what you do every day. The most important electronic item taken from my wife was her smartphone. Fortunately, she had insurance and only had to pay a fraction of the retail price to replace it. This insurance comes at a cheap monthly price and saved us a few hundred dollars when we needed it. The phone was shipped next day air, allowing her to quickly start receiving calls and messages. Getting insurance is a great idea if you have an expensive phone.

Putting a lock on your phone is another good thing to do. This is especially true if you have any personal information or saved passwords stored on your device, as the last thing you want to do is let the thief obtain sensitive information.

As mentioned above, you can also download a tracking application. Unfortunately, my wife didn’t have one of these. We called the phone a few times, but it eventually ran out of battery (or was turned off) and we knew it’d be tough to track.

Miscellaneous Tips

If you’re on a long road trip, bring two sets of car keys. If one is stolen or misplaced, you won’t need to pay a huge fee to get a new one made from scratch. We had the good fortune of being in the same city as our parents, who generously let us borrow their car for a few days while we handled the fiasco.

Don’t carry a lot of cash. We were lucky that we didn’t have any cash stolen, as we would’ve had no way of getting it back.

Have you ever had something stolen? What do you do to keep your items safe?

David’s Note: I’ve lost my wallet plenty of times! Here are a few more tips on what to do.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Kate says:

    I had a careless friend who used to leave her purse in the grocery cart while shopping. She had it stolen twice. The third time she spotted the thief running and didn’t shout “Help” or “Stop Thief” — she shouted an epithet that is usually designated “The N Word” with STOP before it and everybody in the store looked — two men tackled him and held him for the cops and she got her purse back. She said later that her husband told her that nobody will bother to look up if you yell Help, but if you yell N****R, everybody will look! P.S. She now has a purse with a shoulder strap.

  • Bert says:

    If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t bring it!!! If you are heading to to the Big Box to buy a TV, then, by all means, take the credit card. Otherwise, why take a chance? I rigged a 140db alarm up to my wife’s purse strap over two years ago. Last Christmas, a prospective snatcher made a grab but dropped her satchel immediately on the floor at the Sear’s, and ran away from the noise. My wife doesn’t roll her eyes nearly as much at me these days after that. I employ personal surveillance cameras, and self defense devices for all of my family, and quite a few friends have followed suit. In this day and age, can any precaution be too much? All the previous tips are sound advice.

  • Jake says:

    As a precaution, I take a permanent marker (silver sharpie on the face of a dark surface, black on my lighter colored cards) and then I put a strip of clear scotch tape over the ink so it won’t wear off. I use the marker on the back signature box AND on the front to write “CHECK I.D.!!!” (albeit cashiers rarely ever check my license… scary security case-in-point).
    Then, I take all of my cards I keep in my wallet and I lay them face down on my scanner and take a complete image of all of the cards with numbers, expiration dates, etc. Then I flip them all over and scan the backs (showing the “CHECK I.D.!!!” I wrote in the signature box). I email the scanned files to myself and save it in a special folder or it could be saved to a secure cloud server, etc.
    This way, if I should ever have my wallet stolen, I can find a computer, access my card images and quickly/easily cancel them. I have the full account numbers of the cards and the phone numbers to call to be able to quickly make sure they get cancelled, all in a safe place accessible from anywhere there’s internet.
    Additionally, if there are any fraudulent charges before I should ever be able to realize the card is missing or before I can report it, the “CHECK I.D.!!!” hopefully gives me the leverage to deny the charges if the card company were to balk at fraudulent purchases.

  • Martin says:

    When I was single and young, I used to travel to some not so safe areas out of this country where a gang once grabbed me and stole my passport out of my pocket. I had my money and keys in a money belt that they missed. Since that happened, I now am very careful these days. For example, when I hike outside, I never carry a wallet or any money or watch. I only have a pedometer, cell phone, and small LED flashlight at most. So far, I have never had any problem of theft this way since I always am careful where I hike (many people or moving cars are nearby) and at night, I constantly look behind me to see if anyone is there. The cell phone I have is on a belt case. If I ever was attacked by anyone else, I would simply destroy the cell phone or throw it away in the woods. The loss of the rest of my stuff would not bother me. I agree with Bryan about not carrying stuff that is not needed.

  • Bryan says:

    I’ve had things stolen from my siblings. I can’t recall anything stolen from me by a stranger. I guess i dont have anything worth taking ha ha. I’ve heard of peoples wallets getting stolen and phones. I only keep two things in my wallet my drivers license and my debit card and i try to keep my phone in my car or at home if i dont actually need it. If u do have to carry such expensive items keep an eye on them. The best think to do is leave things at home unless absolutely neccesary. I dont understand why people carry around insurance cards if their not going to a doctor or pharmacy of carrying around a bunch of credit cards when there not out shopping etc. carry only what is needed and leave the rest at home

    • MoneyNing says:

      I hear you on not having anything in the wallet that isn’t useful but I carry my insurance card around because 1) I will forget to bring it to a doctor’s visit and 2) if something happens to me and I’m brought to a hospital they have the needed information right away.

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