Taking a few simple steps will go a long way to beating the thieves
Here are five practical ways to protect your smartphone from thieves.
1 Jot down your phone's unique code
Your phone has a unique identifying tag in the form of a number code. This code – called an IMEI number – is automatically recorded when your phone connects to any mobile network for the first time. If your phone is stolen, you can report your phone's IMEI number to your operator, which will disable your phone from connecting to any other operator. To find your phone's IMEI number, just type dial *#06# into your phone's dial pad and the IMEI number will immediately appear.
2 Apps to beat the thief
If you have an Android smartphone, there are lots of apps that can shut your phone down remotely in the instance where it is stolen or lost. Some, such as the 'Plan B' app (€1.50), can even be downloaded after your phone is stolen. Other apps, such as 'Where's My Droid' (free), wipe your phone when asked and set off an alarm on it, remotely.
More thorough security apps, such as those from AVG, also provide this type of protection.
3 iPhone anti-theft features
If you have an iPhone, there are already some anti-theft features built in. For example, there's a 'Lost' mode that can be activated through iCloud. It locks the phone and tracks its location. For older iPhones, apps such as 'Find My iPhone' allow you to track the device on another Apple device.
4 Don't use stupid Pin numbers and passwords
According to analysis of recent security breaches, at least 20pc of people use easily-predictable security logins and pin numbers such as "1234" or "2013".
This makes it much easier for thieves to quickly access pin-locked smartphones.
5 Watch out for unsecured wi-fi networks
One sophisticated way that thieves can access the content on your phone without ever stealing the actual device is to hack a wi-fi network that you might use to catch up on Facebook or Twitter.
They use special software to divert your phone's data on to their own devices.
This is particularly dangerous this month, as one in five Irish people say that they will buy a Christmas present online with their phone.
So avoid Wi-Fi networks that say things like 'Free Public Wi-Fi'.