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 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

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPad if it is lost or stolen

Any offline device will show for 7-10 days then drop off your list.
If your ipad had iOS8 and you had it locked with a PIN code, they would not be able to erase it.

Marie (not verified)
Lost iPad
Ok, thanks a lot for your response!
Saima Ema (not verified)
I lost my iphone
My iPhone just lost last night. How can I track my iPhone without activating Find My iPhone on my iCloud? Isn't possible to locate it? or can you suggest a possible way to find it?
Manpreet Singh (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
i lost my phone can you tell me anyone how i can track my i phone
Adrian Foley (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iphone . But didnt have find my phone app. Can i still find it with my icloud account even though the phone is off. Our even last location
AnonyMan (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Did you bother to read ANY of those words on the page, right above where you typed your question?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
What if I think I know the email or Apple id of the person who took my phone. Could this be used at all to locate the person and or phone?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
No
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
iphone 6 plus stolen
Hello today i left my phone in a cab and was able to locate the cab driver and searched the vehicle. It wasn't there and he claim d he never saw it. The last location the phone had was the location of his cab exactly where I found him. ,why phone was on and full charged. Now it's turned off but find my iPhone does not say it is offline. What is the best way to go about this?? Should I still bother filing a place report?? Is there a chance I will get it back?? Can the police, Apple, or my carrier help at all. Btw I have sprint service and I lost it on the way to New York from Las Vegas. Any help would be reply appreciated
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: iphone 6 plus stolen

Should you bother filing a report? Yes, it wont hurt
Is there a chance you will get it back? Yes, but only if you do something to try and get it back. Doing nothing greatly reduces that chance.
Apple and your carrier will not help. Neither are in the lost-phone recovery business.
The police might help, but the only way to find out for sure is to ask them or file a report and see what they tell you..

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iphone 5c i tracked it but i want to know what do i do for the police to pick it up
Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Try calling them or visiting them to file a report. if they don't seem interested in recovering your phone, remind them that the UN-subsidised cost can be as high as $1,000 which constitutes Grand Theft.
Achol Aluier (not verified)
my iPhone is stolen
I have just found out that I have lost my phone yesterday so I think its stolen because it is off and is was on of power. So how can I find my iPhone?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: my iPhone is stolen

If it was turned off, you will not be able to track it with Find My iPhone
If the battery was dead, you will not be able to track it with Find My iPhone
If Find My iPhone was setup and the phone is turned on, if it is able to connect to the internet, you will be able to locate it. If you go into Find My iPhone on the iCloud website, you can set it to notify you if/when it is located,

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
How can I find my iPhone without iCloud?
Hi I lost my iphone5 how can I find it becuase i was delete I cloud can anybody HELP ME please if you do not mind
AnonyMan (not verified)
Re: How can I find my iPhone without iCloud?
I will help you. Just like it says on the page, right above where you asked your question, if you deleted iCloud you will never be able to track it. Bad move on your part. Time to go buy a new iPhone and this time dont delete Icloud.. As you can see it is a very valuable resource.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Find my iPhone when Offline
I lost my iPad yesterday and have left a message using Find my IPhone. But its offline as it doesnt have a sim card. When will the message appear on the device in case it ends up in someone's hands? Thanks you all in advance
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: ICloud can't find my Iphone
Testing the app and ICloud tell me the phone is in Swaziland. That cannot be true since I'm just south of Nelspruit in South Africa and the phone is in my hand. So much for the accuracy
zimmy (not verified)
i want help please regarding my lost i phone.
i am a medical student some body robe my apartment and stole my i phone before 20 day and the police is not helping me i m living in ukriane . my device was showing in i cloud, but by mistake i remove it because the icloud page comes in ukrianian language and i was not understanding it . please help me sir even i locked my phone for i cloud. but now the device is not showing .. this is my IMEI number 013882663632
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
If the location services are off can I still track iPhone ?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Yes - If you put the phone in Lost Mode it will locate even if they have turned the location service off
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Tracking an iphone when Location Services is off

Assuming the phone has iOS 8 installed.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Track and iPhone in Airplane mode
If the airplane mode is on and the wifi is turned off can you still tract the iPhone?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Track and iPhone in Airplane mode
no it has to connect to the internet
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Can someone see location or IP address of device when they log into their iCloud ?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Icloud login location

There is no tracking when someone logs-in to an iCloud account, but emails and pop-up messages are usually sent to all other devices using that account.

Noelle (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iPod - probably at a hotel or something with paid wifi that is now disabled because we left - and awhile ago I turned off Find My iPhone. Is there any way to track it without going to the hotel, or is it gone for good?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Track your iPhone if it is lost
Hey Einstein, did you bother to read any of the words on the page, right above where you asked your question?

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