I came across a pretty amazing story on reddit this week about an Android user who lost their phone on holiday in Malaysia and, thanks to my favourite anti-theft app, was able to get it back.
The app in question is Cerberus, which I recommend over Android’s built-in Device Manager for a single, killer feature: with root access a Cerberus install can survive on your device through a factory reset. If blocking ads and denying app permissions weren’t enough, this is one more reason to unlock the true power of Android and take full control of your device!
That’s exactly what this redditor did, and with Cerberus plus a bit of social engineering was able to get their stolen device and memory card returned to them.
If anyone has not installed some sort of anti-theft on their devices I strongly encourage them to do it now. I managed to get my phone back after losing it over a year ago in Malaysia. Thanks to Cerberus I’ve twice been able to locate and retrieve my phone after the thief has been less than willing to comply.
I went on an amazing trip with some friends at the end of 2013. We spent a month checking out Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. On the last leg of the trip, as I was waiting to board the flight home to Australia I dropped my phone in the departure lounge in Malaysia.
I realised as soon as I stepped onto the plane, but I had already boarded and wasn’t allowed back off. The staff made a phone call down to the departure lounge but my phone was already gone.
As soon as I got home, I activated the tracking and watched the thief make her way home with the phone. I managed to snap a few photos of her face but other than that I had no way of finding her and no contacts in Malaysia to help me.
Even so, I continued to monitor her as this phone had all of my precious memories and photos. Every few weeks I’d get an emergency notification when Cerberus managed to connect to the phone, signalling a small window of opportunity for me to snap screenshots. Unfortunately Cerberus doesn’t play well with Malaysian internet and often the thief would be offline again by the time I got to a computer.
Then the Cerberus update happened and I could no longer track my phone as they stopped supporting old versions. At this point I was defeated and gave up on the phone.
Fast forward 4 months to last weekend. I was having a quiet day at work and it occurred to me that I managed to screenshot the thief’s email address.
I used the email address to find her on Facebook and added all her friends. Then I shared a post with my story, as well as photos of the her face and her home and work locations. Her friends were quite helpful, some of them even liked and shared the story.
Within a few hours, she contacted me asking to meet at the local police station and returned the phone to a helpful volunteer I found on Malaysia’s largest online forum. She even had the nerve to tell my contact a bullshit sob story about legitimately paying for the phone and ASKED FOR COMPENSATION, but my contact refused her and took the phone.
I was so happy and relieved! However, we quickly noticed the phone was missing it’s memory card. Even after I’d told her the entire reason I wanted the phone back, she was heartless enough to remove the memory card!
She’d deleted her Facebook by this stage but I found her children and church. After promising to contact her priest and community with the story, they quickly persuaded her to express post the memory card back to me 🙂
The kicker – she was rocking a brand new Note 4 when she went for the meetup. I had to go back to using an S2 for a year. Grr.