Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen


Apple's Find My iPhone service is a free service available to all iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad owners that can help you find your iDevice if it gets lost or stolen.  Find My iPhone uses WiFi triangulation and/or real-GPS tracking to locate your device and display it's location on the Me.com website or from another iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using the Find My iPhone App.

We have several posts and pages here at GrownUpGeek.com regarding how to track in iPhone and difference between the Find my iPhone App and the Find my iPhone service, but we still get questions about the specifics of finding a stolen iPhone, what Find My iPhone can or cannot do, etc, so this page will provide some quick and easy answers to those common questions.  Although the term iPhone is used, most answers also apply to the iPad and iPod Touch.

 

Q: What is required for Find My iPhone to track or find my iPhone?

A: You must have previously configured the Find My iPhone service, Location Services must be enabled for Find My iPhone, the iPhone must be powered-on, the iPhone must be able to aquire a GPS signal OR location triangulation via cell-towers or WiFi, and the iPhone must be in a 3G service area or be connected to WiFi. 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but I never setup an iCloud account or Find My iPhone - can I still track the location of my iPhone?

A: NO - Find my iPhone must be configured BEFORE your iPhone or device gets lost or stolen

 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but location services was turned off - can I track my iPhone or enable location services remotely?

A: YES - Only if your phone has iOS 8 and Find My iPhone was setup, you can log-in to www.iCloud.com and use Find My iPhone to enable "lost mode" which will turn-on Location Services. However, Location Services cannot be turned-off in iOS 8 without your icloud password, so if the theif was able to turn off Location Services he has probably already locked you out of your iCloud account, or removed your phone from your account.

 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but I never setup an iCloud account or Find My iPhone - can I remotely activate tracking?

A: NO - Find My iPhone must be configured before your iPhone becomes lost or stolen

 

Q: If my iPhone is stolen and the thief disables Find My iPhone or erases/restores/wipes the iPhone, can it still be tracked?

A: NO - Once the Find My iPhone service or Location Services is disabled or if the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad is erased, it is no longer trackable by you using Find My iPhone

 

Q: If the theif removes the SIM card, can my iPhone still be tracked?

A: YES - If the iPhone is able to connect to Wifi, even without a SIM card, iCloud can still locate it. 

 

Q: If the battery dies on my lost or stolen iPhone or if the dirty-thief turns the iPhone off, can the iPhone still be located or tracked?

A: NO - The iPhone must be powered-on to be tracked

 

Q: If I did not setup Find My iPhone or if the thief disabled it, can the police/my provider still track my iPhone?

A: YES - The police and/or the telephone service provider (AT&T, Verizon, etc) can locate a phone (or, a 3G enabled iPad, not an iPod Touch) in emergency situations (they use their own services/systems, not Find My iPhone).  Key word of that sentence is "emergency situation". 

 

Q: I installed the Find My iPhone App on my iPhone so I can track it now right?

A: NO!  Tracking or locating an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch is done via the Find My iPhone service, not the Find My iPhone App.  See this page to understand the differences: Find My iPhone App vs Service

 

Q: My iPhone was lost or stolen and when I track it with Find My iPhone it says 'offline' - Why?

A: The phone might be turned off, out of range of WiFi or 3G service, Find My iPhone or Location Services may have been disabled on the phone or the phone could have been wiped/erased/restored 

 

Q: Can I use the Find My iPhone service to track other phones or devices that aren't iPhones?

A: Find My iPhone can be used to track iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, iMacs, and MacBooks with OS X Lion or Mountain Lion

 

Q: Does Find My iPhone display the history of the locations or track everywhere the iPhone has been?

A: Find My iPhone only displays the current location of the device by default.  If you put the phone in "lost mode" if it becomes lost or stolen, you will then be able to view the history of the phone's location.

 

Q: Will the person/theif with the iphone be notified when I track the phone?

A: If enabled, location services may display a tiny indicator near the clock.  The person can then look at the location settings screen and it will notify them if they are currently being located, or if they have been located within the previous 24 hours

 

Q: How accurate is the location tracking of Find My iPhone?

A: Find My iPhone accuracy ranges from a few feet to a few miles.  The size of the 'blue location circle' indicates the accuracy.  A small pinpoint circle indicates more accuracy, a larger circle indicates less accuracy

 

Q: Can I put Find My iPhone on my first Gen iPhone, my iPhone 3 or iPhone 3G?

A: NO - Find my iPhone only works on iPhone 3GS or newer (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, 4S+), Newer iPod touches, all iPads, and iMacs/Macbooks running OS X Lion or newer

 

Q: Someone stole my iPhone.  Find My iPhone is showing me where the phone is, should I barge in and take back my phone? 

A: NO!  Seriously?!  Find my iPhone is intended to help you locate a LOST phone i.e.; if you left it at a restaurant.  Because the accuracy of Find My iPhone is not perfect, if you try confront a thief you run the risk of breaking down the wrong door, getting your ass-kicked or worse, a knife to the spleen or a bullet to the face.  Use some common sense and leave confronting criminals to the professionals.  

 

Got a question about tracking your lost or stolen device? Post a comment below.

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Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
i need to know how to track without find my iphone or any other apps as i just got the phone please
Shakib Rahman (not verified)
I had my iPhone 6 stolen

Hi

I had my iPhone 6 stolen, this Sunday evening. After which I had immediately rushed home and locked my phone and changed my iCloud Password. The day after I got an e-mail that my phone name was changed my actual name to "Z" and Lost mode was enabled and also another mail A sound was played on "Z" after which my phones keep says it is offline on iCloud. I have informed local authority and they have asked me to drop by to their office tomorrow with the IMEI numbers of my phones for tracing. My question is how can they change the phones name if I had the phone on lock mode before they even turned on? and currently it is showing it's offline does that mean they wiped off my entire data of my phone is out of battery/died

If they had turn it on and changed the name of the phone then it most have registered a location? if any sim card was not inserted? Need help real bad

thanks in advance

Regards
Shakib Rahman

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
sim card
If someone puts my simcard in another phone can I track the card to the new phone? Even if they don't make phone calls?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my ipad,but when login into Icloud it list my device, but cant locate. does this mean the find my iphone setting was off? can i still find it
Apple Eater (not verified)
track your iPhone with Find My iPhone
If Find My iPhone was off, it would not be listed. When it's listed but can't find it, that means the iPad is either turned off, been 'wiped', or is unable to connect to the internet.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Hello, my iphone 6 plus got stolen 2 days ago. I put it lost mode, and have had find my iphone up on my macbook as well as the phone i am using now. I had the sim replaced so i could use my number in my sons phone. yesterday i received a random text that my phone was located, but when i went to find my iphone, the device was gone from my device list. im wondering if the thief could be doing this. im not sure what happened but now i cannot locate it at all. is there any hope of it showing up on my list again or how do i retrieve it? anything would help. thank you!
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My iPhone was lost without iCloud logged in can I still trace it ? Can I trace it with my imei number ?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my Iphone 5C a week gone Saturday. The Sunday and Monday after I lost it, it was getting tracked to the same place. However when I have gone to the bar where it was getting tracked to they said it wasn't there and nothing had been handed in. I have put it in lost mode and had the sim card cut off by network provider. Since then it has been saying it is offline. If someone has picked it up can they get it unblocked. Also it is still showing up on my icloud account if someone had it and wiped it would it disappear off my icloud account where it says my devices
Apple Eater (not verified)
Tracking iPhone with SIM disabled

When you cut off the sim-card, the phone can no longer use your mobile data to send tracking and location data, so it will show as offline unless/until it is able to connect to a WiFi.

If the phone had iOS8 then Activation Lock will be on by default unless you turned it off. With Activation Lock enabled it can't be erased without your iCloud account password.

If the phone does not re-connect to icloud after a few weeks, it will drop off your iCloud list (as of the last time I tested this).

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My ipad is lost and it's already in icloud. But i haven't launch a lost mode or find my ipad or location service yet. If i turn these on now , can i find the location of my device ? If it was stolen , can i track the previous location if the thief was turn on the internet before i started the lost mode.... please reply
Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
You can use Find My iPhone from another computer or iPad/iPhone and track it's current location assuming it's turned on and able to connect to the internet. You can only track the previous locations after you enable lost mode. It will only record previous locations after you enable lost mode.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My 5s was stolen but I believe it was a member of my family. I had the tracker installed on it and as near as I can tell 1 hour after it disappeared my tracking was disabled. So the thief had to unlock my screen and then use my apple id to disable it. So am I crazy to think this was an inside job? If they erased it wouldn't it say something other than tracker has been disabled? If anyone know that would be awesome to know before I get too bent.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
my iphone5 has been stolen and it is switched off due to low battery.my sim still in phone but cellular data is off.Fir has been filled and phone is in survillance. Is there any chance of it getting back
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Is it possible or is there a way to manipulate the phone using your icloud account? (ex.download findmyiphone on it or turn on location services?)
Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
If you have iOS 8 on the phone and if you setup iCloud on it, you can activate location services, but that is all.
Gurpreet Singh Brar (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Sir police can be track the iphone with only imei no.with out sim card inserted in the phone can get location with imei or not.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iphone 6 and the celluar data is off and wifi isn't available. The phone is locked with my fingerprint and password. Is there anyother method to track my iphone without cellular data and wifi even while my SIM still in the phone?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

You have two possiblities:
1) Convice your cellphone carrier to track/traingulate it (but, they wont)
2) There is no #2

Gurpreet Singh Brar (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Without sim card and any network can I track it by find my iphone app I xan switch on the lost mode its offline and battery status unknown.
Gurpreet Singh Brar (not verified)
Finding my lost iphone
I lost my iphone and the lost mode is on but after 10 days its shows offline .Sir the app find my iphone track without sim card and network or not.My friends says when phone is switch on without any network and simcard icloud can show the location its is true or not
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Tracking a stolen iphone when it's turned off
If the person who has the phone turned it on but has it currently turned off, can I still track the last location of the phone's whereabouts?
Gurpreet Singh Brar (not verified)
Re: Tracking a stolen iphone when it's off
Sir last location can't show in in icloud then what to do see tha last location
WdW (not verified)
Re: Tracking a stolen iphone when it's turned off
Yes but you have to put the phone in Lost Mode with Find My iPhone.
Gurpreet Singh Brar (not verified)
Re: Tracking a stolen iphone when it's turned off
Thank you ever-so much
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
New SIM in lost iPhone
I lost my iPhone but if someone puts their SIM card in my phone even after I put it in Lost mode, could they restore it and erase everything using their computer?
Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: New SIM in lost iPhone
Not if it had IOS 8 and had iCloud setup without your iCloud password. If it was IOS 7 or older, then yes they could erase everything and use the phone.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iphone5 now two days ago its been offline ever since how do I know if they restored it will it disappear form ifind ?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
You wont know if they've restored it. if it doesnt come online after 10 days or so, it will drop off your Find My iPhone list, unless or until it comes back online.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I have a 5c for my personal, iPad Air, and a 4s all with service and find my iphone on. I added a mophie to the 4 and throw it in the trunk when I know we are going to be apart a few days. Works great so far
Marie (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPad if it is lost or stolen

Hi!
I lost my iPad last night, but I only realized it this morning. I tried to locate it using Find my iPad, I enabled the lost mode, but the devices shows up disconnected/offline. But, since I was only able to do this many hours after it was lost, the person who found it might have had enough time to erase everything and restore it. Or maybe it just not connected right now. I can't know.
My question is : If the person had erased everything and disconnected it from my iCloud account, would the iPad still appear in my account? It still shows up, alongside my iphone and my mac.
Thanks!
Marie

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