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: NO - Find My iPhone relies on location services.  There is no way to turn on location services remotely

 

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

 

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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razib (not verified)
How to I find my stolen iPhone?
i have lost my iphone 4s 10 day ago.thief took my iphone.so how can i find my stolen iphone 4s
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How to I find my stolen iPhone?

go to www.icloud.com .. log-in with your iCloud username and password, click the "find my iPhone" button.
Of course, this will only work if you created an iCloud account and used it to configure the Find My iPhone service on your phone before you lost it.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

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

How do I enable the indicator on my iphone?

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

Check: Settings | Privacy | Location Services | System Services | Status Bar Icon

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lose my iPhone 4s hacker will delete my icloud account can i track my phone?
Anonymous (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
if your icloud account information is removed from your phone you cant track it anymore but if your phone has ios 7 they cant remove the information without your icloud password.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
l lost my iphone l had an icloud account so how can l track it
Anonymous (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Go to www.icloud.com on any computer, sign in, and click the Find My iPhone button.
dipesh (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
can i find my iphone even if find my iphone is disable through IMEI no if complained to police
Appleseed (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

Hi Hubby, it's awesome that you're still helping people after first posting this FAQ so long ago. I hope you don't mind sharing some advice with me. Thank you in advance for your time.

I lost my iPhone 5c last night (unsurprisingly given I'm here...). I've contacted my carrier and they've deactivated the sim and are sending me a replacement with the same number. It wasn't a contract phone, so it's just the sim that's been deactivated.

I've reported it to the club I lost it in, reported it to the police and gave them the serial number and imei just in case, and activated find my iPhone to play a sound/display a message.

Mobile data as turned off, and I don't think it will connect to an unknown wifi location, so it's showing as offline. To my understanding, until it connects to the internet, the find my iPhone features won't activate. If so, that means my phone almost certainly will never connect to wifi and is only protected by my pin, which can be broken given time. (Security settings on the phone are active to require my iTunes password for all downloads and to connect to iTunes/ back up to cloud and similar.)

My question is, if someone connects the phone to a computer to reset the phone does that computer have to connect to the internet (iTunes?) and if so, does that connect the phone to the internet - thus activating the find my iPhone settings and telling me it's location? Even if the phone is protected by pin and iTunes password?

The phone was updated to the latest version of iOS (7.something?)

Is there anything else I can/should do? Should I be contacting apple to see if they can brick the phone?

As I said above, thanks for any direction you can provide.

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Track a lost iphone.

The phone itself has to connect to the internet, and plugging into iTunes does not connect it to the internet..
BUT..
If it has iOS 7 the phone cannot be reset or wiped clean without your iCloud password.. So you can take solace in knowing that if you can't have your iphone, nobody can have it.

I dont think there is much more you can do at this point.

Appleseed (not verified)
Re: Track a lost iphone.
Thanks again [\obsessing]
Matt (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My iMac was stolen and I can see where it is. I typed s message when I locked it but did not give information to return….can I change the message displayed on the locked computer
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

isnt there an option to undo/turn-off right there on the screen? If so, turn off mode it's in and re-do it?

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
On an iphone 5 IOS7, If Control Center is set to "Access on Lock Screen", can a thief set the Airplane mode button and disable all communications even if I set Lost Mode in Find My Iphone
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
YES.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Hi, I've had my provider block my sim and I have findmyiphone app set up etc. now that I've had the sim blocked, will I still be able to track it? Thanks
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Track iphone without the SIM
if the phone connects to WiFi you can still track it, it does not need the SIM.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
If the phone's location services is turned off but the phone gets connected to wifi, will I still be able to get the current location or the last know location of the phone?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

If your phone has iOS 7 and you use Find My iPhone to put the phone into Lost Mode, you will be able to track it even if Location Services was turned off.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Errr what about if someone factory reseted my phone even if it's iOS7. Can I still get it's last known location? I'm trying so hard to find my phone right now but I don't know if it's still possible.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

As it says on the page above, if your phone is reset, it's time to go buy a new one.. However, if you had iOS 7 and find My iPhone was setup/activated, they can't do that factory reset with your iCloud account ID and password..

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
i lost my iphone if the phone is wiped/restored is it still possible to track my iphone
I See Stupid People (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

From the page, right above where you asked:

 

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

Abdul Wahid (not verified)
Re: track my stolen iPhone 4s
Stoln my Iphone 4s set. please guide how to find it.. My mobile No: 0503195245
I See Stupid People (not verified)
Re: track my stolen iPhone 4s
go to www.iCloud.com and click "find my iphone". If your phone was setup for tracking and if it's turned on you will see the location on a map. If you never setup find my iPhone or iCloud, go buy a new iphone.
ReniValent (not verified)
Re: Pre-Paid Sim Card without Credit
My iPhone 4s has recently been 'lost' and ive activated the Find my iPhone etc now when I tried to call it, it rang through but it still says its offline in the Find my iPhone app, I know its out of credit so therefore the internet cannot be used, would this be why I cannot locate my iPhone? because I was thinking of purchasing credit for it to see if it will help to locate because I don't think it will be connecting to wifi anytime soon, so that's why I was hoping you would know if the 3G connection needed would be obtained without phone credit? thanks
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Pre-Paid Sim Card without Credit
Find My iPhone does not work without an internet connection. No Wifi or no 3G = no internet = no Find My iPhone
Armen C (not verified)
Lost iPhone at Mountain High
I lost my iPhone at Mountain High ski resort in California. There was no internet up on the hill so Find My iPhone shows my phone as "offline." The bluetooth is enabled on it. Is there any way to find it? I know bluetooth extends to 30 feet. I'm wondering if there's a way to find it with bluetooth.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Lost iPhone at Mountain High

There's no Verizon/AT&T signal there either?
You're not going to be able to track it by Bluetooth. WiFi and 3G are the only ones that can help.

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