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Apple Product Lost or Stolen

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                                      Functionality of Find my iPhone, Rendering Find my iPhone Useless, Is my Data Safe?

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. It is all up to you to track and report it; Apple won't. See the below link for more information.

Corresponding Apple Article: (will take you to Apple's website)

There is only one way to track your device, which is covered in the "Locating a Lost or Device" section below. You cannot track it using a serial number, IMEI number, etc. However, for an iPhone, you might try contacting your carrier (i.e. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile), and ask if they can blacklist your phone, provided the IMEI number. Not all carriers do this.

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 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.

 Find my iPhone app icon

Setting up Find my iPhone
Find my iPhone iOS 5 or later. You may have been prompted to set up Find my iPhone on the screen during the setup of your device.

 (may also say "iPhone" or "iPad," depending on 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 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). 

If you have an Apple Watch, and you lost your iPhone but think it is nearby, you can also ping your iPhone from the watch. With the clock face displaying, swipe upward from the bottom of the screen to access Glances. Swipe over to the leftmost glance, and tap the bottom icon:

Activation Lock
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):

  • Location Services can be turned off
  • The SIM card can be removed (on GSM iPhone or 3G/4G iPad)
  • Find my iPhone can be turned off
  • The device can be restored and set up as a new device
    • Selecting "Erase All Content and Settings" in the Settings app
    • Restoring in iTunes
  • The device can be powered off
  • You may choose to remotely wipe the device, preventing any further tracking.
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.

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Comments (18):

By Anonymous73 on 10/1/13 • Reply

By Anonymous74 on 11/11/13 • Reply
Very helpful.

The app worked just as described when phone was lost. Phone was remotely locked thriugh app. Now it is found provider restored phone service but data is still locked. How do I access data?

By kashi_k79 on 8/11/14 • Reply
dear all,

can anybody let me know that i can track my ipad, as my ipad was new and i have not open the box but i have the original purchased receipt


in response to kashi_k79
By AppleClubSupport on 8/11/14 • Reply
Hi kashi_k79,
If it wasn't opened, then you didn't have a chance to set up Find my iPad which means you cannot track it. The receipt, serial number, etc. will not help you track it. Sorry about your loss. The best course of action is just to report it to the police.

in response to AppleClubSupport
By kashi_k79 on 8/11/14 • Reply
thanks for the information, can you please let me know whether i can stop that iPad through providing serial number to Apple...

in response to kashi_k79
By AppleClubSupport on 8/11/14 • Reply
No, they cannot help with that.

By fillip on 9/27/14 • Reply
hi i lost my iphone and it is on tmobile blacklist but i find my iphone what i can do it???

By cutecake11 on 12/22/14 • Reply
Hi I lost my ipod and the sound is turned off so facetiming doesn't work, also location services is disabled and so is find my iphone. Also its not hooked up with another device, Itunes or Icloud, so theres no way to track it. Is there any possile way to find it, its in my house I'm just not sure what program to use to find it.

in response to cutecake11
By AppleClubSupport on 12/22/14 • Reply
Hi cutecake11,
There is no other way to track it. At least you know it's in your house. You'll just have to look for it like you would any other lost item, such as a wallet. Check in couch cushions, etc. And hopefully you didn't leave it in your pocket and it went through the wash! 

We strongly recommend enabling Find my iPod in the future, if you find it this time.

in response to cutecake11
By Sam on 1/22/15 • Reply
Find my iPhone app and a "play sound" option that will play with the sound off. 

in response to Sam
By AppleClubSupport on 1/22/15 • Reply
They said that Find my iPhone was not enabled, so this won't work, unfortunately.

By rumbiantara on 3/11/15 • Reply
Hi guys, how to unlocked lost/stolen mode without apple ID & password ?
Can you help me, please ?

By fortunate on 5/29/16 • Reply
Hi everyone
I lost my iPhone and I did not set up icloud Acc how can I trace possible to get it back? I only bought it about two weeks ago

By SJMESQ on 6/05/16 • Reply
Hello, wondering if anybody knows if putting one device on lost mode renders the other devices incapable of sending imessages? I lost my phone yesterday and was sending messages from my macbook, and now I am unable to. Any ideas as to why this would be? Any help would be appreciated, thank you.

in response to SJMESQ
By AppleClubSupport on 6/05/16 • Reply
Enabling Lost Mode should have no impact on your other devices. I would suggest that you open Messages on your MacBook, and from the menu bar, go to Messages > Preferences > Accounts > iMessage, and sign out and back in again.

By kelly on 7/15/16 • Reply
hey there, ty for the helpful tips! my iphone was stolen - i've done the necessary, but don't think i'll be getting the device back. i've clicked the 'erase phone' thing, and i now have an 'erase phone pending' message - any idea how long that will take? my device was turned off by the thief, will the erase be pending until they turn it back on? thanks in advance!

in response to kelly
By AppleClubSupport on 7/15/16 • Reply
Hi Kelly,
You are correct, the erase will take effect when the iPhone comes online.

By Bella on 8/08/16 • Reply
So, my iPod was stolen last month & I hadn't set up 'Find My Iphone (IPod) on it. Then I logged into the app on my iPad & I turned on lost mode. But unfortunately the stolen iPod hasn't been connected to the Internet since it was stolen.😕 Please is there anything I can do?