Cell phone theft is a growing problem, with swiped phones being targeted by everybody from pickpockets and idle delinquents to roving, organized criminal gangs look for free calling, personal data (which could be used in identity theft operations), or just a quick bit of high-tech bling they might be able to sell for a few dollars. According to government statistics, with one third of all robberies in the U.K. now only target mobile phones.
UK developer Remote XT may not be able to prevent your phone from being stolen…but it does aim to give you the tools to turn it into a useless, highly-annoying brick if someone does swipe your phone.
The software installs into the operating system of compatible mobile handsets. If the phone is stolen, the owner can report the phone as stolen as soon as they’re able to access another phone. At that point, the stolen phone is immediately disabled, all personal data stored on the device is destroyed, and the phone begins to emit a very loud, high-pitched squeal. Removing or replacing the SIM card has no effect.
The scream can be disabled by removing the phone’s battery…but, of course, it starts right back up again once the battery is re-installed or the phone is connected to a power adapter. "It makes a loud squealing noise which is enough to distract a restaurant if it went off and it completely locks the phone," Remote XT’s Managing Director Mark Whiteman told Reuters UK.
Remote XT also offers a data backup service, which copies personal data (like contacts, address books, calendars, and more) off your phone once per day; in the event your phone is stolen and subsequently data-wiped, your information can be transferred to a replacement unt.
The cost? Currently, Remote XT’s service is priced at a whopping £9.99 per month (about $18.85 a month in U.S. dollars). No word on when it might be reaching North American markets…but we imagine we’ll hear it coming from a long way away.