Found an iPhone. Now what?
May 26, 2014 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday while on a long bike ride I found an iPhone in the street. Help me return it to its owner.

While on a long bike ride, I found an undamaged iPhone in the street a few blocks from my home. Based on where it was, I think it probably fell out of somebody's car. I thought about leaving it there and hoping that the owner would know to come looking for it in that vicinity, but I worried that a less scrupulous person might take it without any intention of returning it to its owner. I live in a busy Chicago neighborhood so this isn't a remote possibility. Well, for better or worse, I now have this person's iPhone, and I'm trying to figure out how to get it back to them. Oddly, while there are lots of tools on Apple's website to track down a lost or stolen phone if you are the owner, there isn't any utility to report a found phone. What should I do?

Relevant details:
- The neighborhood I live in is fairly dense so I can't assume the owner lives directly next to the street where I found it, but they probably live in the neighborhood.
- The phone has a distinct case that the owner could use to identify it.
- It appears to be a Sprint phone.
- The phone is locked so I can't look at contacts or call anybody.
posted by deathpanels to Technology (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Take it to an Apple Store. They will be able to look up the owner by serial number and/or unlock it to get the contacts. Or you can verify that it's a Sprint phone by popping out the SIM and taking it to a Sprint store; they'll be able to look up the account info.
posted by supercres at 7:16 AM on May 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I believe you can ask Siri on a locked phone "who do you belong to." If they've filled in their own personal contact information it should display it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2014 [10 favorites]

I can confirm that asking Siri that works, phunniemee.
posted by jedrek at 7:30 AM on May 26, 2014

He said it was locked, so he can't see contacts.

You can hold down the home button to invoke Sire. You can ask Siri to "Call home, call my girlfriend, call mom," etc.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:06 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rather than take it to an Apple store, I'd start with Sprint.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:23 AM on May 26, 2014

You don't even have to pop the SIM. On my (current) iPhone, the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is printed on the back. Carriers have tools to let them look that up. If the local police have a report of a lost-or-stolen phone, that's what they'll have on file.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:24 AM on May 26, 2014

Lifehacker also suggests contacting the carrier with the IMEI.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:27 AM on May 26, 2014

I believe you can ask Siri on a locked phone "who do you belong to."

I just tried this on my phone, and Siri said "I don't know". How do I set this up? Thank you.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:10 AM on May 26, 2014

I just tried this on my phone, and Siri said "I don't know". How do I set this up? Thank you.

On your iPhone go to Settings > General > Siri > My Info and select your name from your contact list. Alternatively, if you are syncing your contacts to a Mac via iCloud, launch Contacts on your Mac, select your card, and choose the "Make This My Card" item from the "Card" menu.
posted by RichardP at 9:29 AM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Wow, Siri tells me who my iPhone belongs to and then offers up *complete* contact info - and I do mean every single scrap of contact info I have. I'd worry about identity theft, but if someone has my phone already ...

(Confirming that this works even when the phone is locked, as long as Siri knows some associated info.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:36 AM on May 26, 2014

Confirming that this works even when the phone is locked

If this disturbs you, you can prevent access to Siri from the lock screen by going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, scroll down to the "Allow Access When Locked" section, and turning Siri off.
posted by RichardP at 9:41 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I created a contact called "A if lost or emergency" (so it would be the first thing someone would see if they scrolled through the contacts on my unlocked phone). That contact just has my first name, a blurb that makes me sound friendly and NOT RICH, a picture of me and my children (in case we are still in the area so they can see if they can locate us) and a telephone number (not the number of my iPhone). That is the contact card I have Siri pointed to for the question of ownership.
posted by saucysault at 10:03 AM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Similar to what richardp said, i and a lot of other people i know have siri disabled at that screen.

Drop it off at the sprint store, they'll get it back to the owner. I do this every time i find a lost phone. Just charge it up, or power it up to the lock screen if it's charged, see what carrier it is, and go drop it at their nearest store.
posted by emptythought at 1:47 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This will not help you, but for iPhone owners who don't have Siri: I made a wallpaper for the lock screen with a nice image and the text "If found, please email <my email address>". Haven't lost the phone yet (knock on wood) but I'm hoping it will help in getting it returned to me when I do.
posted by monospace at 4:42 PM on May 26, 2014

When you turned the iPhone on, did it go to a "Re-Activate iPhone" screen, or a "Setup" screen? If so, the owner of the iPhone has locked the iPhone with "Find my iPhone" - it should give you a message they put in Lost Mode, providing they took that step, with contact information.
posted by dubious_dude at 6:17 PM on May 26, 2014

Thanks guys, to clarify, I could not unlock the phone at all. I brought it to a Sprint store and left it with an employee to take out the SIM card and try to look up the owner that way.
posted by deathpanels at 8:47 PM on May 27, 2014

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