How do you recover a stolen IPhone?
February 11, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Lost iphone, with a twist.


Last weekend my IPhone slipped out of my pocket in a club and was lost.

I went home that night and immediately logged into MobileMe and it was still inside the club, way past closing time (3am). I returned to the scene and although I was able to perform a quick search, I was unable to locate the phone - which makes me suspect that someone in the cleaning crew found and took it (I came back home again and checked MobileMe - still in there).

Now, to this day I'm able to track the lost phone down to a single apartment building, but not a specific apartment.

I called up ATT and they recommended I suspend service - which I did. The Apple Store said there wasn't much they could do. The police department just seems confused when I try to explain that I can track my phone but I need their help with recovering it. To be honest I feel weird wasting their time with stuff like this (like someone put it, "Do you have any idea how many yuppies come in here complaining they've lost their phones each weekend??").

So this is the situation. The person who has stolen my phone apparently charges the phone (because by now it would've been dead). Whenever I re-activate service to the phone and track it (which is maybe 10-15 minutes every other day or so), I have no issues finding their location.

Additional info:

- My phone is always locked with the 4 digit passcode - they're likely trying to crack it. Is this possible using specialized software? Is jailbreaking possible on a locked phone?
- I've called and texted the phone with MobileMe, but there is no response.
- Besides my email accounts there is no sensitive information on there (except my contact list and their email addresses) -- no banking info etc.

I can remotely wipe the phone but since that will make the phone usable for the thieves, and I won't be able to locate the phone anymore, so this is my last resort.

Lastly I don't mind getting a new phone per se, but whenever I open up MobileMe and see the phone's location on Google Maps I feel like I'm giving up on this too easily :-P Especially since I paid $100 for this service for this exact situation.

Help? Suggestions? Advice?
posted by the_ancient_mariner to Technology (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe post a flyer somewhere near the door of the apartment building offering a reward for a lost iphone? Long shot, but it might work. Other than that, you might be out of luck. Cool service though. I didn't realize that was possible.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2010

You might look into whether your homeowner's or renter's insurance covers this loss (sometimes coverage can extend to items that are not always kept inside the home), or spend that $100 instead on loss insurance, if that service is a yearly subscription.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:57 PM on February 11, 2010

Wipe the phone & get on with your life. On the relative scale of social injustices, this is vanishingly low.
posted by felix betachat at 1:57 PM on February 11, 2010

Have you tried calling it while you were at the apartment building to see if you can hear the phone and locate the specific apartment?
posted by whiskeyspider at 1:59 PM on February 11, 2010

Also, can the club tell you if anyone on their staff lives at that apartment complex? (I agree it seems a shame to give up when you can narrow it down so close.)
posted by whiskeyspider at 2:12 PM on February 11, 2010

If your phone was at the club after closing, the list of suspects is narrowed to the cleaning crew or a club employee. Can you present the apartment address to the manager of each, explaining the situation, and get a name that matches the residence? With evidence in hand, and a name, you can knock on the right apartment door accompanied by a police officer, and politely ask for the phone back.
posted by Acacia at 2:13 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why don't you explain the situation to the club manager & ask if s/he can identify any employees at the apartment address?
posted by torquemaniac at 2:16 PM on February 11, 2010

You might find some tips at particularly the bit about sending a message to be displayed on the phone.
posted by dirm at 2:35 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Even if you do manage to figure out who has it, they'll probably just deny it. The club is unlikely to be keen in helping you prove that its employees are theives (though if I owned a club I would want to know). Try calling it. Maybe someone took it home expecting a call so they could return it.

Incidentally, phone companies have the ability to brick an iPhone remotely, and it really bothers me that they won't do it when the phone is stolen from customers; they will do it if it's stolen from their store. They could eliminate iPhone theft overnight, but choose not to.
posted by Dasein at 3:17 PM on February 11, 2010

Do you have a bluetooth headset on hand that has been paired with the iPhone? This is just an idea, but it may be possible to narrow the location down to a specific apartment by walking around the building with your bluetooth device and trying to sync it with the phone. Bluetooth typically has a max distance of 30 feet, even shorter with walls in the way.
posted by sdinan at 3:28 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

seconding the bluetooth route. i know iphones have very crippled bluetooth capability, but would a bluetooth-enabled computer be able to locate it within a certain range? that would work for my blackberry.
posted by acidic at 5:34 PM on February 11, 2010

I was also going to recommend the website that dirm recommended... If you do take that route, let us know how it goes! Or contact that blogger and see if you can post your story to his blog!
posted by foxjacket at 6:49 PM on February 11, 2010

How big is the building? If it's not huge, you could slowly walk the halls, calling the phone and listening for the ring.
posted by dinger at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2010

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