TARA app screams Magnanakaw to scare phone thieves

TARA app
TARA [via Facebook]

The texting capital of the world has brought forth a unique phone anti-theft application that screams, “Magnanakaw!” (Filipino for ‘thief’) to warn others they are within range of a stolen phone.

The Philippines is the acknowledged leader in short messaging service (SMS) usage worldwide sending out millions of text messages every day, with a mobile phone subscriber base that is more than the number of the population in the country. Since a staggering number of Filipinos own mobile phones, phone theft has become a rather common occurrence.

An abundance of anti-theft phone applications have been marketed in the country to protect consumers from looming thieves.

However, these phone apps require an internet connection, something that is still beyond the reach of the common Pinoy.

Enter the Pinoy-made TARA (Theft Apprehension and Asset Recovery) smartphone security app that does not need an internet connection to be activated by the owner.

The TARA developers have declared that “this proudly Filipino application is the first in the world technology of its kind.”

The app functions basically like a “kill switch” for smartphones. Unlike other smartphone security and tracking apps like Apple’s Find my iPhone, TARA does not require an active data connection for it to work. The “kill switch” feature is an alarm that screams the words “Magnanakaw! Magnanakaw!” (Thief!) when activated.

The alarm is turned on by sending an SMS to the stolen phone. Users can also contact the TARA hotlines. Even if the phone is on silent, turned off, or replaced with a new SIM card, the alarm will still continue to sound off. The app cannot be uninstalled because it is embedded at the chipset level of the mobile phones.

The developer of TARA is Jun Lozada, an IT-expert before he became a crusader for anti-government corruption. Lozada was a whistleblower on an infamous IT deal that went sour.

In his Facebook post Lozada shared that his inspiration to develop the app was when he heard that a young boy was stabbed to death because he refused to surrender his mobile phone to a robber. He also stated that even though the thief might not be stopped, at least the app will still prevent the thief from cashing in on the stolen phone since it will be inoperable.

The TARA app is embedded in another Philippine phone brand, MyPhone. It is currently only available for select MyPhone devices but is expected to roll out to other devices soon.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.