What to do when your mobile phone is lost or stolen?

Author: Divya Vishal, NUSRL

What to do when your mobile phone is lost or stolen:

Legal Procedure to be followed

I- Introduction

In the present times, mobile phones have become the focal point of every person’s lives. These days mobile phones are an essential requirement for every individual. With the expansion of present-day innovation, mobile phones have become a personal computer, with the capacity to explore, discuss, and store huge measures of data. It is a device that gives us different sorts of facilities like, internet, photography, alarm, voice calling, video calling, SMS, calculator, and various other applications. With the developing significance of cell phones, it has become an important thing especially as far as the private information or data put away in it.

Consequently, mobile phone theft has become a major issue. Such expensive pocket computers we haul around with us consistently are practical objectives of theft-just as exceptionally simple to leave them in tram vehicles or on café tables or at any other public place. Since we as a whole depend on our cell phones for so a lot, having one taken or lost can feel like the apocalypse. But it doesn’t need to be as here are the arrangements we can follow in case our mobile is lost or stolen.

II- Legal Steps involved to get your lost phone back
  1. Gather essential data-The essential data includes:
  2. Model of Mobile phone,
  3. Mobile number
  4. IMEI number
  5. Account of how one lost the phone
  6. Name of the people suspected of stealing the mobile
  7. Disable the sim- This step can be followed immediately or after some time in case one believes that mobile is with a trustworthy person, then it will be easier to contact that person and get your phone back.
  8. Data in mobile needs to protected- Every person’s mobile has their personal data like photos, email, browsing history, bank applications, etc. that need to be guarded in case mobile is lost. So in case, mobile data is synced with these applications, one needs to change the password to protect any private data from getting leaked.
  9. Report the matter to Police- To avoid any sort of severe repercussion, it is necessary to report the matter to the police. There are two cases in which police is to approached-
  10. When theft takes place- In case of theft, the person has to file an F.I.R.(First Information Report) in the police station within the jurisdiction of the place where the phone was stolen. An F.I.R. is filed under Section 154 of CrPC. The details like model, color, IMEI number of the phone needs to be told to the police officer recording an F.I.R. After the filing of an F.I.R, a copy should be taken in order to keep a check upon the progress of the case.

If a police officer refused to register an FIR, any person aggrieved by such refusal may send in writing and by post, the substance of such information disclosing a cognizable offence, to the Superintendent of Police (SP) u/s 154(3) or to the Magistrate concerned under 156(3) of CrPC.[1]

  • When the phone is lost- A FIR is recorded in instances of cognizable offenses, for example, violations of grave nature while in instances of non-cognizable offenses a DDR can be enrolled. So in case, the phone is misplaced, one can register the complaint in the daily diary report in the nearest police station. The DDR can act as proof of your bona fides (good intention) in case the lost phone is misused.[2]
  • Register F.I.R online- Many Indian States have given the facility of filing an F.I.R. online. This procedure is created to facilitate the process and to fabricate the trust of the people in the police and it additionally makes the entire procedure productive. To register an online F.I.R., particulars like user’s functional mobile number, email id, IMEI number, and other linked data needs to be given for further inquiry. One can just go to their separate official sites of the Police Department and they have to get themselves register there and after the enlistment is done, one can document the objection. The complete step that needs to be followed is clarified with menu pictures of portals in various states. Complaints can be registered online by sitting in wherever and track it without going to police headquarters. Websites created by the vast majority of the State Police Departments are easy to follow.
III- Advisory released by the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the compulsory registration of F.I.R in the case of mobile phone theft

An advisory was issued on 23rd July 2014 by MHA concerning the mandatory F.I.R. registration of stolen mobile phones. The investigating officer needs to follow the following steps during the investigation procedure:

  • The Investigating Officer should put forth efforts to follow and recuperate the stolen cell phones. He should contact the respective service provider for discovering the client subtleties of the number on which the handset is initiated ensuing to this theft.
  • He should visit the location referenced in the supporter structure.
  • The specialized ability relating to the IMEI number of a stolen cell phone is accessible to the service provider and so the concerned official should start an essential line up of a careful kind with the service provider to sweep and work upon the IMEI number of the stolen mobile phone so as to track their location.
  • Zonal Integrated Police Network (ZIPNET) has been given which contains the subtleties of lost/taken portable handsets. The police need to enlist the subtleties on the ZIPNET portal so as to stop the buying of the previously owned cell phone.
IV- Procedure to get the mobile phone back after its recovery by the police

Subsequent to the recovery of the stolen mobile, the police present the property to the court. The property in the guardianship of court is called as “MUDDEMAL.” In order to recuperate one’s phone, one has to document an Application for Return of Property under Section 451 of the CrPC under which the concerned Police Station is accounted for to. One should outfit the necessary reports like the Bill of the Phone and will be required to show up before the court for distinguishing proof. Once the identification is done then the Magistrate will pass a request coordinating the arrival of the mobile phone. The order copy needs to be shown to the Police Station and afterward, they will give one’s phone back.

Technical View

You can locate your smartphone bu using Find My Device feature, which is built into your Android smartphone through Google Play Services — It also can be used in a browser or downloaded from the Google Play Store.

V- Conclusion/ Suggestions

As rightly said by Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Therefore, mobile phone users need to take certain precautions to reduce the chances of getting their phone lost or stolen.

  • There should applications on the phone that can be used to track the location of the mobile phone.
  • The IMEI number of the mobile should be known to the user.
  • The data of the applications like contacts, email should be synced online to keep the data protected and prevents its loss.
  • The third-party applications should be avoided
  • The remote wipe should be set up so that in case the phone is lost, the entire data can be wiped remotely and also can be used to find the phone’s location.

Now no need to worry about what to do when your mobile phone is lost or stolen. In this way, cases of stolen or lost mobile phones can be recovered.

[1] https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/how-to-recover-a-lost-or-stolen-mobile-phone-both-technical-and-legal-process-are-explained-here-9932.asp , Accessed on 17.06.2020

[2] https://blog.ipleaders.in/lost-phone-back-legal/#:~:text=In%20case%20of%20misplaced%20or,Diary%20Report%20(DDR)%20registered. Accessed on 17.06.2020