Smart TVs are wonderful entertainment features in most homes. However, because of their great demand, Smart TVs are also a target of home burglaries. They are easily sold and light to carry.
Fortunately, there are certain methods you can use to secure your TV and discover the whereabouts of your stolen set and lead authorities to the thieves. Streaming services are your friend when it comes to tracking your stolen Smart TV.
The police, insurance agents, and unsuspecting buyers can all be your allies in recovering a stolen Smart TV. The apps you use for viewing media, such as app stores, streaming apps, and browsers can also help identify connections to a new IP address.
If you didn’t secure your Smart TV properly (the way we recommend here), you might want to find out more on how you can use available information to track down your stolen Smart TV and the thieves behind it.
Action Plan for Stolen Smart TVs (6 Things You Should Do)
Smart TVs are not easy to track. They rarely come with a GPS tracker and not everyone can identify them via the IP address. Nonetheless, there are actions you should take to make the tracking easier once your Smart TV goes missing. The necessary steps you should take are:
1. File A Police Report
Burglary is a criminal offense and you need to report it to the authorities immediately it happens. You might get lucky and the police recover your stolen household items without further help from you.
Additionally, the police in most cases can only act on recovery if you’ve made an official report. When the cops have details of the burglary incident and details of your stolen items, they can quickly and more easily use official channels to track the said stolen property.
2. Look out for your Smart TV
The majority of burglars sell stolen Smart TVs immediately after the crime.
If you want to recover your TV yourself you should look out for devices that have recently been put up for sale in online classifieds and at consignment stores or local pawn shops.
If you find your property, simply ask the owner to put the Smart TV on hold.
Then, contact your local police and show them your police report. They will take care of your case and recover your device.
3. Monitor Your Streaming Services
What are the apps installed on your Smart TV? Make a list of all apps you have installed. Do not immediately change passwords.
Thieves might try and test your device when they get to their den. If they log on to any of your apps, therein lies your advantage. Your apps can detect the new IP address and you can get the details from your account on another device.
In particular, Netflix accounts have been instrumental in tracking many burglars after they’ve stolen a Smart TV. Google services and Samsung apps are other important apps that can help you track down a sign-in at a new location.
When the thieves make away with your valuable devices, use a new device to monitor whether someone else has logged in to any of your accounts. Once you notice a recent sign-in, immediately make a follow-up report to the authorities.
4. Change Your Credit Card Details
The biggest risk of not logging out of your accounts is that the thieves can potentially access your personal and credit card information.
These details are often available in the billing settings of our apps. If the thieves gain access, they might steal more than they got out of the burglary. They might use your financial details for credit card fraud and possibly clean out your bank account.
Immediately you discover your Smart TV has been stolen, alert the bank and cancel your credit card.
Nonetheless, if your credit card is used to purchase items, those purchases can be used to track the thieves’ location and recover your other stolen items. So, monitor any credit card use even after you have disabled the credit card.
Many of these purchases can be refunded if you made a formal report to both the bank and the police.
5. Alert Your Insurer
In most countries, it is possible to buy home insurance that covers your Smart TV against theft or damage.
A comprehensive insurance policy that covers your TV will not only give you peace of mind but also potentially make recovery easier after a burglary.
Insurers often have recovery agents who investigate crimes and work with authorities to recover stolen items.
Some details you will need to report to the insurer, as well as the police, include:
- Your Smart TV serial number.
- Smart TV make and model.
- Purchase cost of the TV, including date bought and the store it was bought from.
- Your home IP address.
6. Inform the manufacturer
Even though most manufacturers can’t do much to help, there are innovations coming up aimed at stopping the illegal sale of stolen property.
Some Smart TV manufacturers can remotely disable (Or brick) a stolen TV once it’s reported. This feature works worldwide, not only in the TV manufacturer’s country of origin.
For example, Samsung company maintains serial numbers of all their products. If you report to them your stolen TV and produce proof of purchase, the manufacturer is capable of remotely disabling the TV using the serial number.
However, manufacturers are reluctant to use this feature as it may violate consumer privacy laws. Also, manufacturers with this capability only use the feature on TV sets stolen from their warehouses.
Lastly, this feature can only work if the Smart TV is connected to the internet. The thief can still use the TV offline without fear of detection.
Can Smart TVs Be Tracked?
There are ways to track down your stolen Smart TV. The easiest way is by reviewing your streaming apps such as Netflix and YouTube. If the thieves or a third party who buys the set connects your TV to the internet, your accounts will show the new activity and make the IP available.
You can then use the new IP address to track down the name and address of the new owner.
Another way to track a stolen TV is by using a GPS tracking device. However, this only works if you had earlier set up the GPS tracker.
Thus, it is always prudent to install a tracker when you first buy your TV.
Nonetheless, these trackers also only work if the thief doesn’t identify it when they steal the Smart TV. So, set up the device in a discreet location, say on the back of the TV frame where it blends in with your TV’s physical features.
Can Smart TVs Be Tracked by Serial Number?
Like most electronic devices, your Smart TV has a serial number. There’s no way to remotely track your stolen Smart TV using the serial number. However, the Smart TV can be identified physically if the police or a buyer inspects it.
Thus, finding your Smart TV through the serial number is a matter of either luck or detective efforts.
When the police recover any stolen items, it’s the serial numbers they will look at to check whether it matches anything on their database of stolen electronics.
Can Smart TVs Be Blocked or Disabled If Stolen?
Some Smart TV manufacturers have a Television Block Function that can be activated remotely. In particular, Samsung TVs have the block function which they activated en masse during the 2021 looting sparked by political protests which happened in many parts of South Africa.
However, not all manufacturers have the remote blocking function on their sets.
Additionally, the few manufacturers who have this function can only use it on Smart TV sets stolen in manufacturer warehouses or retail stores. Apparently, the function is not easy to activate on TVs stolen from homes.
The reason why manufacturers can’t deactivate TVs stolen from homes is because of privacy concerns. Manufacturers would set themselves up for privacy violations if they had trackers on personal owned property.
The block function works when you make a report to the manufacturer and they identify the set through its serial number. Nonetheless, a user can present a proof of purchase to deactivate the block function.
If a buyer presents an illegitimate proof of purchase, that is they likely bought it from a thief, then the information they present could be used to track down the thief.
Does My Insurance Cover a Stolen TV?
Your home insurance may cover your electronics, including your Smart TV, in case of theft and damage. Some insurance companies also offer specific coverage such as Television Insurance.
Television insurance could cover theft, mechanical breakdown, electrical breakdown, repairs, and replacement.
Home owners’ insurance and renters’ insurance may cover all your electronics under personal property coverage. These types of insurance depend on the company and type of cover.
However, most such insurance policies only cover your personal property up to a fixed amount referred to as a sub-limit.
Nonetheless, for more expensive electronics such as Smart TVs and computers, you can purchase separate electronics coverage or add an endorsement or rider to your existing home insurance cover.
How Often Are Smart TVs Stolen in the US?
FBI statistics show that TVs are one of the top ten most stolen items. According to Statista, televisions, radios, and stereos worth $207M were stolen in the year 2020. Recoveries were worth $9.5M and approximately only at 5%.
Over 65 percent of these thefts are smash-and-grab crimes targeting retail stores, malls, and warehouses. About 20 percent are home burglaries. Other types of Smart TV theft include in-transit hijacking and workplace pilferage.