This must have been asked before, but I cannot find any related question.

Is it possible to put into hardware, some kind of "transmitter", so that in the event of it getting stolen, it can be physically traced?

This would be similar to the "find my phone" logic applied to some smartphones, where Google Maps (or whatever) highlights the (approximate) location of the device.

It was suggested to me that it might be done by placing an RFID chip into the hardware. I looked on Google/Ebay for more information, but each would assume I already know exactly what I need.

Can anyone explain the technology required, and provide examples of any equipment needed please?

  • 2
    Look for GPS trackers. Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 10:22
  • Okay thanks. Pricing seems a bit steep perhaps for protection of most devices, or am I looking at the wrong this? bluetrackgpstrackers.co.uk/gps-trackers
    – EvilDr
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 10:29
  • 1
    GPS trackers are commonly sold for vehicles, including bicycles (expensive ones). There are a few threads on bicycles.se, of which the most intersting is probably bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/21574/…
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 15:47
  • The answer here quotes a price of "20 GBP". Given the comment on battery life, can the transmitter be switched on remotely or something so its only needed at the point of theft occurring?
    – EvilDr
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


RFID chips can only be read at very close distances (a few centimeters to a few meters, depending on type). So unless you suspect that the device is in the same room, an RFID chip won't help you locate it.

To remotely locate a device anywhere in the world, the device needs:

  • A GPS receiver to get its location
  • A GSM modem to transmit its location to a server via a cellphone network.

A smartphone already has both, so a software solution is quite straight-forward in this case.

When you want to bug an item which has neither, there are hardware devices available which have both. Usually each of these devices has a cellphone number. You send an SMS to the given number and the device responds with its GPS coordinates. Enter them into Google Maps and you have an address you can report to the police (Do not attempt to recover your property by going there yourself. You are endangering yourself, you might violate the law yourself by overstepping legal boundaries of vigilantism and might give the criminals opportunity to destroy evidence which can then not be used to convict them in a court).

To find such devices in online stores, search for "GPS tracker". A quick search on amazon.com shows gadgets like this, but I have no first-hand experience with these devices, so I can not give a product recommendation.

  • 1
    TK102 clones are very common kind of trackers, but they have usually very bad battery life (less than a day)
    – SztupY
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 14:13
  • Hmm okay. Good job I'm not attaching it to grandma then. Can you recommend a worthy alternative please?
    – EvilDr
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 14:15
  • @EvilDr If you want a "worthy alternative" you may need to edit your question to provide more input. For example, we know nothing about what you are protecting, from whom, how valuable it is, what distances it might move, or any of the other factors which would go into deciding a worthy solution.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 15:40
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    If the device is something that will be connected to the internet, all you would need is the GPS receiver. See gizmodo.com/5717309/… for a humorous example.
    – Blackhawk
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 16:06
  • 1
    @EvilDr Going to the thief's location personally is a really bad idea. You are endangering yourself, you might violate the law yourself by overstepping legal boundaries of self-justice and you might destroy evidence (or give the thief opportuinty to destroy evidence) which can then not be used to convict the thief in a court. Leave it to the police.
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 8:20

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