What should I do about my iphone being stolen?
August 29, 2018 4:25 PM   Subscribe

What is the correct order of steps to take with a stolen iphone? My iphone went missing yesterday in Brooklyn. It popped up briefly online twice in *find my iphone* a mile apart. What should I do now?

1. The phone has a passcode, so I think it is sufficiently locked and secure. I've changed passwords on sensitive accounts. The phone is in Lock Mode.

2. I sent a message to the phone with a number I can be reached at, via *find my iphone*, but no response. I think whoever has it doesn't want to return it.

3. I think I should send the request in *find my iphone* to "erase iphone". Will erasing the iphone also erase any message I have sent to the phone about how to reach me?

4. I also want to switch my account with Metro PCS to an old android phone that I have. If I do this, will it prevent the command to erase the iphone from going through? I want to make sure the phone gets erased, and that is more important than getting a new cell phone connected to my account.

5. Is their some way to report to Apple that the phone was stolen? If I give them the IMEI can they brick the phone if it ever tries to connect on a network?

6. I'll probably file a police report, just so I have a record with the NYPD.

7. Any idea of places I can look that are common avenues for stolen iphones to be re-sold?

8. Anything else I am missing?
posted by davidstandaford to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What I have done, twice, successfully, is had someone else text the phone, which will show on the lockscreen, "Hey sister/friend, where are you? worried about you? call me, xxx-xxx-xxxx" and/or offer a reward.
posted by corb at 5:35 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


5. Is their some way to report to Apple that the phone was stolen? If I give them the IMEI can they brick the phone if it ever tries to connect on a network?

Because of something called Activation Lock, the phone is effectively bricked right now and is only usable for parts. Once the phone get associated to a certain AppleId, it because effectively impossible to use the phone without logging in (and then logging) out as that user. The only other recourse is showing up at an Apple Store with physical proof of purchase. Even then it gets weird if the physical receipt doesn't match the phone's IMEI/serial #, or the person at the store doesn't buy it why "you" can't remember you password nor remember the answer to the three recovery questions.

To let you know how serious Apple takes this part: I'm an Apple Software Engineer with one/two degree(s) of separation from people who actually build this part of iOS, and yet I still have two unusable phones in my desk this second because the passwords to the associated accounts are no longer known and I didn't setup the recovery stuff right ahead of time.

I guess you could even put: "This phone is activation locked and therefore worthless to you. Give it back and I'll give you $50" as your lost message.

Also worth mentioning: If you erase the phone over the air, you will no longer be able to track it, nor will the lost message still appear. However, it will still have Activation Lock, so the stuff I said before still will apply.
posted by sideshow at 5:49 PM on August 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


The only other recourse is showing up at an Apple Store with physical proof of purchase

Actually, OP put it into Lost Mode, so Apple won’t touch it to unlock, period. It’s as bricked as bricked can be, without OP’s AppleID info. (This is good for you, OP.)
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 6:42 PM on August 29, 2018


When we were in this situation the thief eventually felt some remorse, or realized that the phone was somewhat worthless to them, and called the number in the message we sent to the lost phone. It was in a City we had recently traveled to, but the thief took the phone to a FedEx store where we paid over the phone for packaging and return shipping and now have the phone back.

YMMV, but since they won't likely unlock your password I would vote against erasing the data in case they decide to call and return it to you.
posted by The Architect at 6:56 PM on August 29, 2018


It's kind of a long story, but I got the phone back.
posted by davidstandaford at 9:00 AM on September 21, 2018


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