How to recover a lost or stolen Mobile Phone? Both Technical and Legal process are explained here

In present days, mobile means not only a phone, it is a gadget which provides us multiple types of services like, entertainment to alarm, photography to torchlight, internet to calculator and many more. It means it is next to our friend. Moreover our mobile knows many secrets of us. So, losing a mobile not only affect us financially but also we loses many important or secret data.

There are mainly two types of mobile, i) Feature phones (small size phones) ii) Smartphones (Android or iphones). In case of Feature phones, you have only few options to get it back. But, in case of Smartphones, there is more chances to get it back.

What to do after losing mobile?

Basically you need to follow two process to get back your lost or stolen phone, i) Technical Process (You can try this yourself) ii) Legal Process (You need to lodge police complain)


i) Call your phone

Whenever you realize that you have lost your mobile, call your phone from another phone. May be you have misplaced it nearby or may be a good person find it and can not call you because your phone is locked. This is a very common step that everybody knows.

*Point No. (ii) and (iii) are only for Smartphones and not for Feature phones.

ii) Log in to Android Device Manager or iCloud

In case of Android, go to google from any device and open Android Device Manager. Log in to Android Device Manager with the google account (gmail id) and password that you used in your lost phone. You can directly locate your phone in the map if your device data is turned on. Also you can,

  • Ring your device (Device rings for 5 minutes even if it is in silent mode)
  • Lock your device (You must do this to protect your data)
  • Erase your device data (Only do, when you have no chance to recover your phone. Remember you can't ever locate your phone, if you erase your device data)

In case of Apple iphone, go to google and open iCloud. Sign in with Apple id and you can do same things as like Android Device Manager.

iii) Google Location History

If Android Device Manager doesn't work, then try Google location history. Here you can see the places where your phone last used.

iv) Track with IMEI no.

Firstly you need to know that you can not yourself track your phone with IMEI no. Only authorized person such as Police, Network Service providers etc. can track or block your phone with IMEI. Otherwise anyone can track anyone's phone location and that may affect a person's security. So, you need to know your phone's IMEI no and you should go to the local police station or police website with it.

What is IMEI no. ?

After losing your phone, if you go to the Police Station or Mobile Service Center, they will ask you the IMEI no. of your phone. IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique 15 digit no. used by GSM networks to identify valid devices. Devices that can be connected with networks such as Mobile phones, 3G/4G Tabs, Dongles must have IMEI no.

How to find IMEI no ?

You can find your device's IMEI no. in multiple ways such as,

  • Dial *#06# from your phone and IMEI no will be shown in the screen.
  • You can also find IMEI no in your mobile's backside, mobile box, purchase bill etc.
  • Go to Android Device Manager and click the (i) icon, located beside your device name. There you may find your device's IMEI no.

v) Contact your Device Manufacturer Service Center

Go to your nearest Service Center of your mobile and tell them the matter. They are authorized to locate the location of your device with IMEI no.

Vi) Contact Network Service Provider

Contact your Network Service Operator if you want to block your lost SIM no. Tell them your lost phone no and IMEI no. They will block the number or activate the surveillance mode for the lost IMEI. It means even if anyone removed the SIM and put a new SIM of any network, the SIM will not work if IMEI i.e. phone will become useless.

But it is a suggestion that firstly you need to file an FIR in the police station and consult with them before calling your network service operator.

vii) Register IMEI to Stolen Mobile Database

Register your lost phone's IMEI no to Stolen Mobiles Database. It will help protecting sale of your stolen mobile. Some websites are given below,


Make a Police complain

File a complain at your nearest police station. Remember this is the most important step because it is a safeguard. In future, if anybody will use your lost/stolen phone in any illegal purpose, you will haven't any liability if you have the copy of complain.

Before going to Police Station or Police website, you need to gather some required information, such as,

  • Brand and Model no. of the phone.
  • IMEI no of the phone.
  • Your phone no.
  • Date, Time and place of the incident.
  • Your Suspect (if any) in case of stolen mobile.
  • Copy of your ID proof.

File FIR in case of Stolen Mobile phone

If you think that your phone is stolen, then you go to the nearest police station where the phone is stolen and file an FIR to report the Theft.

What is FIR?

  • FIR or First Information Report is defined under Sec. 154 of CrPC. 
  • It is the earliest and first information of a Cognizable offence (Criminal offences such as theft, murder, rape etc.) recorded by an officer-in-charge of a police station.
  • Police starts the investigation and submit the charge sheet u/s 173 of CrPC after completion of the investigation.

There is no time limit to file FIR, but file it as soon as possible. If there's a delay in filing, informant should have a valid reason for non filing the FIR immediately.

How to file an FIR?

  • Go to the nearest police station where the phone is stolen.
  • Tell the police officer to register the FIR for a stolen phone u/s 154 of CrPC.
  • Tell the details of your phone (i.e. color, brand, model no. and IMEI of your phone).
  • Tell the names of witnesses (if any).
  • Information may be given orally or in writing. If it is given orally, it must record in writing.
  • The writing information must be signed or marked by informant.
  • You must take the copy of FIR as evidence. It is free of cost.

The good part of FIR is, you can track the status of investigation and there is more chance to get your phone back.

Click here to see the sample copy of FIR 

What to do if police refuse to register FIR?

As per Indian Govt. rules,it is mandatory to register FIR for Stolen Mobile Phones. u/s 154 of CrPC. If a police officer refused to register an FIR, any person aggrieved by such refusal may send in writing and by post, the substance of such information disclosing a cognizable offence, to the Superintendent of Police (SP) u/s 154(3) or to the Magistrate concerned u/s 156(3) of CrPC.

Also remember, FIR can be filed in case of stolen mobile (Cognizable offence), if your mobile is lost or misplaced then you can't file FIR, in that case you need to register your complain in General Diary (GD) at police station.

Register complain in General Diary (GD) in case of misplaced or lost phone

If your mobile is lost or misplaced (non cognizable offence), then you can't file an FIR. In that case you need to lodge your complain in General Diary (GD) at police station. Don't forget to take the receipt of GD. It is a kind of safeguard that can protect you if your phone is misused.

Register Online Police Complaint

You can register your complain online in some states and union territories such as,
(Click on the below states name to lodge your complaint)

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Assam
  3. Bengaluru
  4. Bihar
  5. Delhi
  6. Goa
  7. Gujrat
  8. Haryana
  9. Himachal Pradesh
  10. Jharkhand
  11. Madhya Pradesh
  12. Maharashtra
  13. Odisha
  14. Punjab
  15. Uttarpradesh
  16. Rajasthan
  17. Tamilnadu
  18. West Bengal

How to get your phone back if it is recovered by Police?

If police recovered your lost/stolen phone, they will not handover you the item directly. Generally police submits the stolen property to the court after recovering. The object in custody of court is called as 'MUDDEMAL'. You need to file an application for return of property u/s 451 of CrPC. before the Magistrate Court under which the concerned police station is reported to. You will need to appear before court and furnish the required documents like bill of the phone. After identification, the Magistrate will pass an order directing the return of mobile phone to you. You will have to show the order copy to the police station and on doing that they will return your phone to you.

Can Police track a lost phone if SIM is removed or if it is turned off ?

Police can track a phone with its IMEI no, even if SIM is removed. But it can be done only if the phone's power is on. If phone's power is off, then police can track its last location while it was on.

Punishment for Mobile Theft?

According to Sec 379 of Indian Penal Code, whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.


Remember IMEI no: This is the most important thing to find a lost mobile. Note down your device's IMEI no and keep it in a safe place.

Use Phone Lock: Use lock pattern or pin in phone and apps. Use 2-step verification in email and other accounts.

Sync. your data online: Synchronize your data on online applications like Gmail, Google contact, Google calender etc. to protect your data from loss. If data is synchronized, change your password immediately after losing of phone.

Install tracking apps: Try to install genuine tracking apps in your phone. Don't forget to check review and read comments about the app before installing it.

Keep the bill in a safe place: Keep your mobile purchase bill in a safe place. It is an important evidence to get back your phone from police custody.

Make Insurance of your phone: You are recommended to insure your phone if its value is high.

Finally, one thing you must remember that it is not a very difficult job for legal departments to find a lost mobile with IMEI, but it depends on the efficiency of departments. Also don't give up hope and follow all the steps from your side. Nowadays, many people are getting back their lost phones with the help of legal departments. Best of luck.


Soumya Laha 
on 08 April 2019
Published in Others
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