Introducing the Theftie: 5 Apps That Take Pics of Whoever Steals Your Phone or Tablet

Most people know what a selfie is, but a term you might start hearing more is “theftie” – and it’s one you’ll want to be aware of because it just might help you track down your missing tech devices or simply see if anyone has been trying to access it when you’re not around.

To be clear, a selfie is when someone holds his/her own phone or tablet in front of his-/herself and takes his/her own photo. No need to bother questioning why – it’s just what people do in 2015.

A “theftie” is based on the same concept. Only instead of a device’s owner taking his/her own photo, the phone takes a picture of someone who is trying to the device without authorization and emails the photo to the actual owner. Of course, the user’s device will have to have a front-facing camera.

A growing number of apps offer the theftie as part of their function. Here are five of the best:

Prey Anti-Theft bills itself as the most complete anti-theft application and includes the “theftie” option.  Prey lets users track and locate lost or stolen phone, tablet, or even laptop, using both GPS and WiFi technology. Users can lock their devices remotely and even activate a loud alarm that can’t be silenced from the device.   Prey is free for iOS and Android and users can connect three devices with a single account.

Lockwatch takes a photo of anyone who tries to unlock your phone with the wrong code, and then sends the photo and a map of their location to your email address. Further, when Lockwatch takes a photo as a result of a the wrong code being entered on your device, it is completely silent and invisible – whoever tried to enter the code won’t know that you know. As an added bonus, Lockwatch only operates when the wrong code is entered so it isn’t constantly draining battery power. This one is for Android.

The GotYa! App in action

The GotYa! App in action

GotYa! Security & Safety is for iPhone and costs $2.99. It bills itself as the cheapest and best available alternative on the market to phone insurance.  Another benefit? GotYa promises to not send data to a third party server. Like the others on the list, GotYa takes a pic of whoever tries to enter a wrong code, records the location, forms a maps link, and then sends the info (including picture) to your email. Just be sure to check the tutorial because you have to adjust some of your iOS settings to enable GotYa to work.

The Android version of Lookout is another app capable to taking thefties. Lookout can be configured to take pictures of the user if a thief enters a wrong password, turns the device off or takes out the SIM card. The picture is then emailed to the actual owner.  Lookout does a lot more, too – from mapping the location of a missing device and sounding an alarm to backing up all your contacts remotely.  Additional services can be purchased, but the app and basic level is free.

Best Phone Security Pro is unique in several ways, starting with the fact it available for iOS and Android along with Nook and Kindle Fire. It also takes thefties and has a host of other interesting features, such as a several different alarm settings and the ability to record your own alarm sounds. Best Phone Security Pro is 99 cents.

Posted in: Tips

About the Author:

Andrew is a writer and producer/content developer for and the PC Mike Techcast at He has been a professional storyteller for 16 years, building a successful career as a newspaper reporter and public relations specialist. Andrew's work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Oshkosh Northwestern, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Crain’s Chicago Business, Advertising Age, Automotive News, Waste News, Appleton Post-Crescent, and Real Detroit.
  • Mary

    Are you sure about the gotcha app? It has 18 1* reviews???

  • Mike

    Don’t know about Android but the iOS versions of the apps were trash. Not a single one could take a theftie properly.