Hertfordshire’s smart way to keep phones safe

New technology in Hertfordshire Constabulary’s control room will help it recover stolen smartphones that have tracking applications, or ‘apps’, installed.

Aug 16, 2012
By Paul Jacques
L-R: PC Joe Swan, Sgt Thomas Neilson and Sgt Chris Smith

New technology in Hertfordshire Constabulary’s control room will help it recover stolen smartphones that have tracking applications, or ‘apps’, installed.

Tracking apps make it possible to locate a device using its GPS signal. They are available for iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones and are easy to download and usually free.

The apps can be activated remotely via a dedicated website, which can then be used to track the location of the phone.

The constabulary’s new system allows officers to track phones on behalf of victims of phone theft.

Detective Inspector Paul Doran, from the force’s Crime Reduction Unit, said: “We are encouraging all smartphone owners to download an app for tracing their phone. Then, if it is lost or stolen, it is much more likely that they can get it back. Even if the phone is covered by insurance and they can get a replacement, losing all the contacts and other personal details can be devastating.

“These new applications are very useful tools for tracking down stolen goods and catching criminals in the act. If owners report thefts quickly enough there’s a better chance of getting their phones back and for us to catch the perpetrators before they have disposed of any evidence.

“This technology can have other uses for the police, such as tracing missing persons, and we are urging families with vulnerable members to securely record their account details which are required to activate this facility.”

If a phone with an app installed has been lost, the owner can simply log onto the application’s website, activate the application and locate the handset.

However, if a phone is stolen, Hertfordshire Constabulary strongly recommends that owners rely on the police rather than trying to recover stolen phones themselves, as this could place them in difficult or even dangerous situations.

There are a number of suitable applications available, such as Find My iPhone for iPhone, Blackberry Protect for Blackberry and various applications for other smartphones that can be downloaded from phone application stores.

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