Sections in this article: Reporting a Lost or Stolen Product, Locating a Lost Device, Setting Up Find my iPhone
When your Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc. is lost or stolen, the best things you can do are report it as lost or stolen, and try to locate it.
Reporting a Lost or Stolen Product
You should always report a stolen product to your local law enforcement. Neither Apple nor your network provider (carrier) will participate in the retrieval of your device in any way. They will not track it, and they will not help to report it as a stolen device. However, some carriers may be able to block your iPhone. Not all carriers do this, and you would need to check with them. That is all up to you to track and report it. See the below link for more information. There is but one way to track your device, which is covered in the "Locating a Lost or Stolen Product" section below.
Corresponding Apple Article: (will take you to Apple's website)
Locating a Lost Device
While Apple will not help to locate your missing device, they do provide a service called Find my iPhone (also known as Find my iPod or Find my iPad). Find my iPhone is an iCloud service (previously a MobileMe service) that allows you to look at the locations of all your devices from www.icloud.com or the Find my iPhone app. Note that the Find my iPhone APP is not required to use the Find my iPhone SERVICE. The service must be enabled prior to the loss. If you do not have this, the device cannot be tracked.
Setting up Find my iPhone
If you are running iOS 5 or later, you may have been prompted to set up Find my iPhone on the screen during the setup of your device.
If you did not set up Find my iPhone initially, you can go to the iCloud menu in Settings and turn Find my iPhone ON. You can then test it out at www.icloud.com to make sure you can see your devices' locations. Again, there is a difference between the service and the app. The service (setup described above) must be on to use Find my iPhone. The app (free on the App Store, "Find my iPhone") is simply a way to view the location of your devices you have set up and access other Find my iPhone features.
Functionality of Find my iPhone
There are a lot of functions of Find my iPhone. The most basic is using your device's Internet connection to locate your device. But let's say you have misplaced your device, and are sure it is somewhere in the house. You can also have Find my iPhone play a sound on your device. If you have lost it elsewhere, you can send a message to the device, so it can be returned if found (by an honest person). If you are worried that your device has been stolen, or are concerned about the security of your data, you can set a passcode remotely on the device. Or, you can choose to wipe the data on the device so thieves cannot access it. If you choose to wipe the data, note that you will no longer be able to track the phone. In iOS 6 and later, there are a couple additional features. One is Lost Mode, which will display contact information on the lock screen, so if someone finds your device, they can tap on the number and it will automatically call you. It will also keep track of all the locations your device has been at. The other feature is that the battery level is shown (and the percentage, if it is 20% or less).
In iOS 7, Find my iPhone has a new feature called Activation Lock. As long as Find my iPhone is set up, if your device is wiped, it cannot be activated without the Apple ID and password you used to set up Find my iPhone, making it useless to the thief or anyone else. iTunes will not be able to restore the device while Find my iPhone is on.
Rendering Find my iPhone Useless
While Find my iPhone is the only way to locate your device, it does not work so well if the device has been stolen. The service is mostly meant for lost devices. Smart thieves know all the ways to render Find my iPhone useless (don't worry, this is common knowledge, and we are not "tipping off" the thieves):
You can limit access to some settings by enabling restrictions. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions. Set a passcode. Once done, do not allow changes to "Accounts." This will prevent Find my iPhone from being disabled on your iCloud account. Also don't allow changes to Location. This will prevent Location Services from being turned off. However, Wi-Fi can still be turned off, and on a Wi-Fi only device, that would also render Find my iPhone useless.
What we are trying to say is, don't get your hopes up. If your device is lost, but not stolen, Find my iPhone is a great service. However, if the device is stolen, most or all thieves know how to disable it. We have heard success stories in which iPhone owners were able to retrieve their stolen phone, but it is not probable. Note the Find my iPhone and any of its services require a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection on your device. Also note that the service must be set up prior to your device getting lost or stolen. If you have lost your device or had it stolen, we wish you the best of luck in recovering it.
Tips For Preventing Theft
We have a separate sub-article dedicated to theft prevention tips. These tips all relate to how you can make the Find my iPhone feature more secure. You can find the article here: Tips for Preventing Theft of your Apple Device.
Is my Data Safe?
If your device has been lost or stolen, your data should be safe as long as you had a passcode on your device. However, as an extra precaution, it is probably a good idea to change your iTunes (Apple ID) password and any other password associated with the stolen device. Cancel any credit card associated with the stolen device.
The thief will more than likely restore it as a new device, either to use it themselves or in preparation for selling it. Although this prevents you from tracking the device, it also ensures that your data is safe. You can also wipe the device remotely from Find my iPhone, described above. If you had a passcode on the device, you may have enabled "Erase Data after 10 Failed Passcode Attempts." This can be done under Settings > General > Passcode Lock, and will wipe the data if the thief tries to guess your passcode too many times.
The iPhone also has another security feature that cannot be disabled. After five failed passcode attempts, the sixth attempt will result in the phone being disabled for a period of time. Each additional attempt results in a longer disabled time.
6 attempts: 1 minute
7 attempts: 5 minutes
8 attempts: 15 minutes
9 attempts: 1 hour
10 attempts: Disables the device, requiring a connection to iTunes which will restore the device and erase the data.
Article ID: AA1014
< Previous Article: Apple ID: Resetting Forgotten Security Questions
Next Article: Apple Store App for iPad: Making a Genius Bar Reservation >
Comment on this Article
If you would like a username to appear with your comment, please include one at the top of your email.