Smart phones, laptops and tablet computers have become indispensable accessories and desirable to thieves.

Some devices can run ‘tracker’ applications which track the device’s location using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology. If the device is lost or stolen, the owner can log on to their account and see on a map where the device is. The location of the device will be shown in real time and is usually accurate to within yards.

Not all devices have this capability, but most new smart phones have tracker apps provided by the manufacturers. A tracker app may come pre-loaded on the device or it may need to be installed. It is best to consult the manufacturer about which applications are appropriate.

You can help protect your belongings by following these simple steps:

By installing a tracker application on your smart phone, tablet or laptop.

Ask your device manufacturer about which tracker application to use – downloading unknown software could damage the device and invalidate your warranty.

If your device is stolen, act quickly. Inform the police and tell them you • have a tracker application installed.

Do not attempt to retrieve the device yourself as it could put you in danger. Your safety is more important than items of property.

If you have an Apple product:

Activating the ‘Find My iPhone’ app allows victims and police officers to trace the device using Apple location services if lost or stolen, using the victim’s Apple ID and password. For this to work, it must have been activated in the device’s settings before the device is lost or stolen.

To activate:

The switch under ‘settings’ then ‘iCloud’ should be moved to the ‘on’ position. It’s not activated when the phone is sold. If you also set a passcode lock on the phone, which is found under ‘settings’ then ‘general’ this will prevent anyone turning off ‘Find my iPhone’.

Apple products are highly sought after and retain high resale values. In the first 8 months of 2012 there were approximately 150 thefts of an Apple product in the Chiltern and South Bucks area. For more information about the ‘Find my iPhone’ app please visit: www.apple.com/uk/icloud/features/find-my-iphone.html. Your device must be running iOS5 or above. You can update your device by connecting it to your PC or Mac and following the on screen instructions in iTunes.

If you misplace your device, sign in at www.iCloud.com on any computer or use the ‘Find My iPhone’ app on another iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to locate it on a map; display a message on its screen; set off an alarm; remotely set a passcode lock or initiate a remote wipe to delete your data. If you eventually find your device, connect it to your computer and use iTunes to restore the data from your most recent backup.

If you have a different device:

If you have a non-Apple Smartphone, Blackberry or Android based phone or tablet there are other apps that provide a similar tracking function. For more information visit the manufacturer’s website.