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How to catch phone thieves red-faced

With phone theft still a serious problem in the UK, we check out apps that sneakily snap anyone who handles your mobile and emails their mug to you on the sly. Here’s our pick of the Android apps for identifying who’s nicked your blower and getting it back safe and sound.

Reaching into your pocket for your mobile and finding nothing but fluff and old pennies is one of the most stomach-shattering, arse-clenching experiences ever. Even if you’ve got a PIN code set up, chances are you’ll never see your precious smartphone again, and that could mean lost photos, lost Flappy Bird high scores, and of course hundreds of pounds of tech down the drain.

Thankfully you can quickly and easily download an app to your Android phone, which takes a snap of anyone who tries unsuccessfully to unlock it.

Catch phone thieves with Android apps that use the smartphone's camera to take a sly selfie shot

Catch thieving gits like this fella using special Android security apps

You not only receive a photo of their devious mug via email, you’re also told their exact location, ready for your own special brand of Vigilante Justice!*

*We heartily recommend contacting the police and getting them to deal with it, rather than going all Hostel on the thieving buggers. If you’re lucky, you might even get a story on the Beeb where they flash the silly robber’s face all over the interwebs.


Lockwatch Find Stolen Phone (Free with in-app purchases)

Lockwatch Find Stolen Phone Android app review

Lockwatch’s free version provides all the basic functionality you need to capture shots of pikey robbers. Once you activate email alerts, you can choose how many incorrect unlock attempts cause a photo to be taken (1-3), and the app can also cancel the surreptitious snap if a correct login is entered within ten seconds. The premium version has more advanced features – for instance, it can email you when a new SIM card is entered, take several photos in a row, and even record a sound clip, so you can enjoy the thieving git cursing as they try to hack your precious mobile.

GotYa! Face Trap & Security (Free to try for 7 days, £2.99 after)

GotYa Face Trap & Security Android app review

GotYa’s only free for 7 days, at which point you have to cough up £2.99, but this security app offers more customisation compared to Lockwatch. For instance, you can have a photo taken every time the phone is turned on after a number of incorrect login attempts, and even send remote commands via text message (e.g. play an alarm, send a GPS alert, or display a message such as ‘giz me phone back thieving bad man’).

LookOut Security AntiVirus (Free with in-app purchases)

Lookout Security Anti Theft Android app review

LookOut Security Antovirus is an all-in-one security app that’s designed to keep your mobile harm-free, and sending photos of nasties who nick your phone is just one feature. Lock Cam can’t be customised to the same degree as the other two apps here, but with the extra security features bundled for free, this app is well worth the download.

Upgrade to the premium version of LookOut and you open up a bevy of extra features, including remote lock and wipe, plus standard security features such as safe browsing.


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