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How ‘Google Find My Device’ Helped Me Locate My Stolen Android Phone

Why is phone theft still a thing? Despite anti-theft measures, there are still people who steal smartphones, which are a top choice for today’s street criminals, especially teenagers. Smartphones get stolen every day - they are a hot item. People will continue stealing phones just like they steal everything else.

The best way to stop phone theft is to catch the people who do it. It is hard to understand why this cannot be done despite smartphone’s anti-theft features and applications used to track down the location of a smartphone.
This is a true story how I was able to locate my stolen Android smartphone with the use of “Google Find My Phone” app.

I do a lot of online stuff. I work from home so I am basically on my laptop and smartphone almost all the time. Every hour, I check my email synced on my Android smartphone. I also spent every night working late because that is just about the time I get to focus on my online job when the kids get to sleep and stay asleep.

I responded to an email at 12:03 midnight on January 2, 2020. I used my smartphone instead of my laptop and immediately put the phone down on the bottom of my bed. Being a light sleeper, I woke up past 1:00 am. I reached for my phone and found out that it was no longer where I left it. At first, I thought that I might have kicked the phone out of the room so I went outside to look for it. It wasn’t there.

I tried to call my phone but it was unreachable. I knew that my phone has pretty decent amount of battery in it before I put it down so it made me wonder if someone had gotten inside the house and took it. Still, I tried to call my phone on Facebook Messenger but it was still unreachable.

I didn’t want to think that the phone got stolen because I like to believe that no one can get inside our house because all the doors were locked. Besides, we live in a small neighborhood with family relatives as neighbors.

I spent almost 2 days looking for my phone inside my house. I have searched every possible place in the house but I couldn’t find it.

To cut the story short, someone had broken into our house and for some reasons, only my phone was taken even though there are other things in the house like my laptop, 2 smartphones, iPads, etc. lying around that the thief can steal.

I tried to do my research online to find out how I could track my stolen Android phone and came across an article about tracking it with the use “Find My Device” on smartphone. I recalled setting it up the first time I used my phone so I immediately accessed “Google Find My Device.”

Find My Device lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone. Find My Device easily lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone. What is great about this app is that it also lets you see the battery life remaining on your phone and the Wi-Fi network it is connected to.

So when I accessed Google Find My Device on my laptop. I only needed to enter the credentials I used to setup my Android phone with. It is my email address and password. Of course, all these would mean nothing if the Find My Phone setting on my phone is turned off. I know it is and luckily, the thief did not turn off this feature so as soon as my phone connected on the Internet, Google keeps track of it.

From the log, I found out that my phone was online 30 minutes ago. So I waited until my phone connected back to the Internet and it didn’t take long. It showed that my phone is back online and would you believe the Wi-Fi network it is connected to – it is connected to our Wi-Fi network at home.

I clicked on to Play Sound, which means Google will alert the phone by making it ring for 5 minutes even if it is on silent. I thought I heard a very faint warning sound, but I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.

Then I used the Google Find My Device app on another smartphone and checked my missing phone’s activity there. The blue dot showed up on the map which has helped me find where my missing phone’s location was. The blue dot kept on moving on the map near my location.

It turned out that my mother-in-law’s helper boy was the culprit. He gained access to our house by entering the back door, which we accidentally left unlocked that night. If I didn’t have Google Find My Device turned on. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea that my missing phone was very close to me. I was basically looking for something that was right in front of me.

People may find it invasive that Google can track their location and show on Google Maps and Google Earth where they have been recently. In my case, it was extremely useful. However, it is still important to protect your privacy and keep your location secret.
When do you keep Location Services on. Some apps require a location to function and be useful. For example, the Google map app is going to need your location to give you accurate driving directions. The Weather app can give you the forecast for your current location. How to decide? I recommend turning most of them off to start.

Do not use Location Services on social media because it makes it easy for anyone to know where you are. You don’t want to reveal your location to strangers. Unfortunately, there are still bad guys out there and you don’t want to make it easier for them to locate where you are.

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