It’s December, which means you have places to go and things to do. There are presents to be bought and parties to be hit, and with all that running around, there’s also greater potential for three horrifying words to enter your life: Epic. Smartphone. Loss.

The security pros all warn people to at least use lockscreen pin code or pattern unlock feature to discourage thieves from putting their grubby mitts on personal data. (Perhaps not Face Unlock, at least not yet.) That’s like Mobile Tech Security 101. What might be 102 is pre-loading a capture and tracking application, as one smartphone owner did some time before heading out to a nightclub in Sussex, England.

The device, a jailbroken iPhone, had the Cydia app iGotYa installed and ready to go. It snapped a photo of the criminal as she was attempting to unlock the phone and sent that to the original owner. Now the image is spreading like wildfire, thanks to the Sussex police department posting it online and asking for leads.

IPhone thief sussex

The notice may seem a little cheeky, but considering how most petty incidents never offer solid info to go on, the department has a right to be merry, no? iGotYa also geo-located the phone and sent those coordinates to the owner, which explains how the authorities know where the photo was taken. And, just in case there’s a shred of humanity left in the scumbag who took that device, it displays a text message asking for the device’s safe return.

This isn’t the first time iGotYa captured a criminal, and it probably won’t be the last, which makes a stellar case for mobile anti-theft security. But you don’t need a jailbroken iPhone to load one up. There are other applications that can track your device and remote wipe it, like Apple’s Find My iPhone app (iOS) or Lookout (Android, iOS), which is basically a souped-up version of Find My iPhone. If you’re looking for image capture as well, look into programs like Prey, which offers both free and Pro versions for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Ubuntu, Android and iOS.

Have you ever experienced smartphone loss? Did you use anti-theft software? If so, hit the comments and let us know which one and for what platform.