What Happens When Your iPhone Gets Stolen

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What would happen if you lost your iPhone, if you haven’t already? I don’t know what I would do without mine. I know I’d make a lot less calls, that’s for sure. If your iPhone were to get stolen, it can find itself. Eric wrote:

On the 15th of March, I brought my truck over to my father-in-law to have him work on the brakes. I ended having to order a part for my truck, and decided to leave it at his house overnight as I had to work the next day, and felt it was unsafe to drive. When I got home that night around 9:00 pm, I came to the realization that I had left my iPhone in the center console. It wasn’t a big deal at the time, because they only live about 10 miles away, and I could easily swing by in the morning and pick it up. Sometime between 10:00pm and 3:00am the truck was stolen. When I received the phone call telling me this, I went into panic-mode. You see, I didn’t care about the truck being stolen, but the first thing I thought of was my iPhone. My wife told me I was acting like I had lost our child. While I was filling out the police report, I just happened to blurt out “They have my iPhone!”. Apparently the officer wrote that down, and the next day a detective contacted me. He wanted to know if I had indeed left my iPhone in the truck. I told him yes, and he said he would call me back. The next day I received a phone call stating that had found my truck. I asked them if they checked to see if my iPhone was still in the truck, and they said “How do you think we found your truck?”. I was dumb-founded. Somehow, they worked with AT&T (Yes my phone is not unlocked) and they were able to use the iPhone as a beacon I guess. I am so glad that I made the decision to purchase this phone. It was worth being an early adopter. The iPhone is the greatest phone I have ever owned, it saved me the hassle of having to get a new vehicle, and it’s a “crime-fighter”.

In the event you do misplace your iPhone, you might want to let the authorities know that they can trace your phone through AT&T. We know there are programs for our laptops, but did you even know that your iPhone can be found this way, as well? What do you think about this? Do you feel more secure knowing that Apple and AT&T can find out where you phone is at any given time? Or does that kind of creep you out? Do you trust them with this much control and information? I personally feel secure, knowing that if I were to lose my iPhone, it could hopefully easily be found for me.


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70 thoughts on “What Happens When Your iPhone Gets Stolen”

  1. People can track you with cell phones. They might even be able to use it as a recording device even though it is off. The GPS can still be activated in off mode as well.

  2. I don’t know if cell phones have e911 enabled which will track the location of the phone that the call was made from. I know that landlines have that now so NO PRANK CALLS! THEY WILL RESPOND!

  3. It is used by the authorities to locate where you are calling from. It comes with no surprise that they found his phone and vehicle this way. In my phone settings, i can choose to show my provider or 911 my location, or both.

    So im not surprised at all when i hear that the police used this method of searching for a car. My guess is when the officer heard he left his phone in the truck, the officer knew he could use the tracking capability to aid in the search.

  4. It is called cell site analysis. It works with any phone. It checks with all phone beacons to find the phone number. The ones that can find it say the signal strength. The police can then track how far from the beacon the phone is. This gives them a radius where your phone can be. When you have a 2nd beacon with the phone in range, you an draw another circle. The2cirles intersect, giving2possible locations. Once you get a 3rd beacon involved, you have an exact fix. Also used2trace lost aircraft!

  5. its wierd he LOVES his iphone in this vid and his new vid he hates it he’s getting rid of it… he loved the amcs and now hes ranting about them… somethig wird happened to chris over night or its april fools but.. i dunno we’ll see

  6. I don’t think this is particular to the iPhone. Most modern cell phones can be traced – that’s why some carriers charge for 911 access. And the 911 operators know what area you are calling from (at least in Canada they seem to, I would expect the same to be true in the US)

    This is done usually via cell tower triangulation (or through GPS on some phones). It’s probably a good idea to have your IMEI written down somewhere (it should be on the box from the iPhone too) in case you want to either lock the phone for all carriers (if it’s stolen, so that it’s unusable) and as it might also aid in tracing the phone itself given a situation like the above.

  7. Kinda funny for a non iPhone guy, the first thing I thought of when I read the headline was “get a real phone” 🙂

    This article can be written about any cell phone, because a carrier can located any phone that is powered on the network (within 15 meters or so).

    I have a great application on my Blackberry called Find-It, which does a number of things if you ever loose it. You can send an email to your device with a customizable subject line that will make the device do one of 5 things (ring really loud regardless of the ringer settings, display a popup message, or yell really loudly “this phone is stolen” with no way of shutting it of).

  8. If you have the new update, can’t they trick the hardware into doing a remote ‘Maps with Location’ and get it right down to the street corner?

  9. I think that instead of having micro chips in our arms so they can locate us, they’ll just make every cell phone like the iphone. If they want to locate us, they’ll just use that. Because let’s face it, where don’t we go with our phones?

  10. You asked for our thoughts on the ability to track down our iPhone – do we feel threatened by the ideal of being tracked?

    Sure – I am uncomfortable with the idea. I have always hated the whole thought that if I did nothing wrong or have nothing to hide – what is the big deal. I believe boomers age group and all those that are following do not realise how many of our freedoms we are surrendering, because someone has made it easy or justifiable. This should be my choice if I want to be tracked.

    The iPhone has the Airport feature – why not expand this to the tracking capability, too? I use my iPhone for all my mapping needs and it is perfect. I know that I am not willing to give up my iPhone – because some one could track me – but I would like the option to turn off the feature. It would make the perfect phone even more perfect.

    Are there laws that prevent AT&T from tracking me for their own purposes?

    iPhone – a way of life!
    Thanks for the chance to contribute.
    Becky Moody

  11. Wow. That’s awesome. I personally would feel a lot safer with all the campus shootings, disappearances, etc. going on to have an iPhone which can broadcast my location should I get stranded, abducted, injured, whatever!

  12. This is all really a side effect of how the phone networks work. The network needs to know which tower you are on, so it can tell the phone someone is calling it, and so it can send the voice/data to it in general. This will work with any mobile phone – I expect even the old analogue types.

    The only way it wouldn’t work is if data were broadcast to all phones on all masts, but then you would be severely limited in the number of phones that could exist, so it’s not surprising this isn’t done!

  13. Eh – this works with ANY phone – not just the stupid iPhone from “We never pay for product placement”-(yeah right)-Apple.

  14. Eh – this works with ANY phone, not just the stupid iPhone from “we never pay for product placement”(yeah right)-Apple.

  15. My iPhone was stolen, and I reported it… the police were unable to do a trace (same for ATT)… I FOUND my phone because the thief registered it with ATT, so Apple help was able to confirm the phone #, and user who had taken my phone… I gave that info the the cops, and the guy was arrested! BTW… ATT was of NO help whatsoever, they wouldn’t even confirm that the # my phone was registered under was their customer. Yay for Apple though!!!

  16. wow ooo man cris had goten soo gay since he switched to mac he talks about piontless shit like he DE=OESNT EVEN TALK ABOUT MACS SINCE HE SWITCHED when he had pc he talked all the time about xp vista pcs in general and good stuff but now we get >tinting windows on houses? do u work in tn visa in canada? can u eat like a egyptian ALL PIONTLES SHIT! wow wow i sooo wont to know how to eat like a egyptian PLZ CRIS SWITCH BACK PLZ I WILL RESPECT YOU THEN !!!!

  17. Oooh haha WoW he got me darn good there haha I didn’t know hahah and it seemed weird because he was in love with it hahah thanks for clearing that up hahaha 😛 nice one Chris

  18. All cellphones are traceable through said companies phones. As long as the phone is on. They can triangulate the general area, with some more advanced phones they can triangulate the exact point of the phone. It all depends on the company, and the phoen makers too.

  19. 何が起こる場合に失われたお客様のイメージは、既にお持ちでない方ですかですか?私は私はどうなるか分からないよ。私の知ってるならずっと少なくてすむの呼び出しに、確かにそのとおりです。イメージを取得して盗まれた場合は、自分自身見つけることができます。

  20. my iphone was stolen a day and a half after i bought it. it wasnt even in my possesion. my teacher confiscated it and she let it get stolen, while we all were still in the classroom. you dont know how depressed i was, and still depressed. ive done evry thing possible, i’ve even tried the tracking through the police. they wont do it. what can i do!!!!

  21. yea right…poilce wont track iphones..any kind of phone. mines got stole today..and look at me now…on my way to at&t to get a new one…

  22. I recently lost my Rogers iPhone (Canada) within 2hr of realizing my mistake I went into action 1- I called Rogers and asked when the last call was made and to deactivate SIM card. My phone had the locking feature on (after 4hr) and a SIM lock as well.. 2- I called Apple and gave them the SERIAL# and reported it as Lost/Stolen. 3- Filed a online police report giving them the IMEI# and SERIAL#. I asked Rogers if they could track the iPhone thru its IMEI# and they said yes but that they were unable to give me that information. So what about Apple are they void of responsibility too since if the (new owner/Thief) tries to connect to iTunes are they not required to register the phone with it SERIAL# which has been flagged as Stolen, and shouldn’t APPLE contact its original owner. And as for the police I just can imagine being laughed out of the station with my petty request, not so petty if it becomes Identity theft. So other then being charged an outrageous price for a replacement there is absolutely nothing to protect the iPhone consumer.. If anyone out there has any solutions for apps that would work or GPS tracking websites for this very situation or some form of Advocacy group that would hold Cell companies and Apple who have the technology to assist in recovery of stolen good responsible. At the moment the consumer is not only the victim but also the cash cow… and the thief is rewarded with a new $$$ iPhone and cell service and the Cell company gets replacement $$$ for a new iPhone from me and a new customer (the thief ) so its a WIN WIN for Rogers why would they help me track my iPhone…

  23. my cell phone is lost in india and i brought from usa so is there any chance to track in india? pls guide me on that on urgent basis.

  24. my iphone was stolen by a family member and i was wondering if anyone knows if Apple can replace it? Or does anyone have suggestion on what I can do about it?

  25. My iphone was sstolen too at an aiport…i deactivated it but can you still track it? who do i contact to ttrack??? every place i try is like a dead end…

  26. My iPhone was just stolen last week, and I tried to use the GPS and the findmyiPhone feature, but it only gave an intersection, which the cops said wasn’t enough information, and now I’m completely screwed. I had just bought it too! So, there is some limit to its ability to find itself.

  27. wow lucky you i got my iphone stolen i was so sad an mad i worked realy hard to get it an i eft to plamdel because i have a girl cuzin who lives over there an went to a party an slept over at that house but the funny thing was that they didnt take my gold or my coach shoes i had they were new but tuck my iphone what do you guys think i should do i havent paid my bill because i just had got layed off around the time they stole my iphone an i dont know what to do can some one help me im going crazy because idk what to do 8( i loved that phone

  28. It is outrageous that a major corporation such as ATT would actively encourage and protect those responsible for theft in order to increase profits. This is on top of highly questionable billing practices that include forced changes of contracts to higher prices and imposition of dubious fees and accidental overcharges which are being reported frequently by ATT customers. We need to demand fair and honest business practices from our corporate citizens.

    I recently had my new iPhone 3GS stolen. When I asked ATT for help they explained that there was nothing they could do for me. Excuse me but that is clearly not true. Their system is the only system that the iPhone works on. A simple computer search for the IMEI# will yield the name, address and phone number of the thief. (or person in possession of the stolen property.)

    If ATT cannot be prevailed upon to do the right thing, perhaps a class action lawsuit requiring full reimbursement for all stolen iPhones would be the best remedy. Stay tuned, this issue is gaining steam…

    1. Hi Don: 

      I was robbed on the street, the guy got away with my phone, but my biggest frustration was how little ATT was willing to cooperate with the police.   For such an iconic (and very profitable) company, is was shocking to see how little they care about law and order.  

      The problem is not the phone itself.  The issue is condoning theft, robbery, associated violence, and sending a message that it is ok to steal because you are allowed to get away with it.  

      I also thought of class action when this happenned to me, there must be thousands of people like you and I.   

    2. Hi Don: 

      I was robbed on the street, the guy got away with my phone, but my biggest frustration was how little ATT was willing to cooperate with the police.   For such an iconic (and very profitable) company, is was shocking to see how little they care about law and order.  

      The problem is not the phone itself.  The issue is condoning theft, robbery, associated violence, and sending a message that it is ok to steal because you are allowed to get away with it.  

      I also thought of class action when this happenned to me, there must be thousands of people like you and I.   

  29. SOME ONE STOLE MY IPHONE. but there is NO SERVICE on it. sooo how can i retrieve it? do u need service for it?! HELP

  30. Hey, I leave in london, and my phone has been stolen on sunday night. They use my sim to make a phone call of 3 sec ( probably to make a miss call and to know the number.)CAlled the number but no one answer. Used mobile me but useless and keep saying that my phone is been in an receiving any push notification. The police won’t do anything. I would pay money for anyone, hacker, etc… to find it.


  31. My wifes cell was just stolen and we contacted AT&T they told us that there is nothing they could do fact is they won’t try to help.they can track your call so why would they say that they can’t track your phone

  32. I dropped my iphone on the ab crunch machine at 24 hour and within one minute of realizing it, someone had stolen it. I asked everyone at the gym, notified the front desk who broadcasted on loud speaker, and nobody would fess up. Conveniently was a cop station right across the street. They wrote up a report and it was actually considered grand theft since total cost originally was over $500. HOWEVER, they told me there’s nothing more they can do. I then called ATT and guess what they said, “Sorry, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing we can do.” So, it creeps me out that they know where we are always, but when it comes down to using that service for our benefit, and not the benefit of big brother listening in, they don’t budge. cya.

  33. Ok my thoughts. Everyone needs to take a second to realize how selfish and rediculous you sound complaining about your iPhone being stolen. Grantide I too agree that I myself would be pretty upset if it was stolen from me, but lets be serious. How can any grown man or women point fingers at anyone for not helping them when there personal possesions become lost or stolen when it was YOUR carelessness of your own possesions. Things aren’t nessicarily considered stolen if they were miss placed or put out in the open unwatched. It is wrong of people to take things that aren’t there’s, but serious don’t you want your local authorities out looking for murders or the pedafile watching your kid going to school instead of taking the time to first call the company and be on the phone for an hour plus tracking your iphone than spending even more time to obtain your iphone and even possibly risking their life, or someone elses with the time it took to get your iphone back. If someone is going to steal a car or steal from anyone odds are high they own a weapon of some kind.

    As for at&t how many people really actually lose there phone or better yet damage it and call at&t for a replacement. There is a such thing as insurance when you purchase a phone. I have worked at a wireless company before and seen many false claims of theft. Its not so they can increase any profit what-so-ever but to prevent them from losing money to send you an $800 phone that you lost. Like seriously who brings such a sensitive phone to a gym. Or leaves it in a car over night (no offense). But sorry if anyones feelings are hurt but its incredible selfish to complain when the fault is all your own carelessness. But I assure you I too disapprove of stealing. And p.s any phone you own can be tracked lets not boost your confidence about how good your phone is. Every phone has an IME and a serial number don’t be so nieve just buy a new phone and suck it up learn your lesson.

    1. And so what am I supposed to do when someone breaks into my school locker to steal it? Do I blame myself for owning an iPhone? Or do I blame the person who stole it? Or maybe I’m just too “Nieve” and I just like to believe that high school girls would respect each others property.

      1. @Mlmoore94 I know right? My iPhone got stolen today and I had gone outside to fill up my water bottle, then whe I come back, it’s not in my bag ( thankfully it has a passcode lock). Is it MY fault that someone went so low to steal my iPhone?

        1.  Yes, its your fault because you didn’t keep it with you at all times.  If you would have taken it with you it wouldn’t have got stolen.  Keep track of your stuff.  I have never had anything stolen because I am not stupid enough to leave my possessions unprotected.  Nor have I lost anything outside of my home because I always have an I on everything.  Its simple… you know these types of people are out there so take precautions to prevent them from taking from you.  The only type of theft that I rule out from stupid is if you are being robbed at gun point or something along those lines.  That would be beyond your control.  However you just leaving your things laying around is saying to thieves hey just take me no one is looking.

  34. I lost my Iphone about 2 months ago. I had to buy a new one witch set me back 650 big ones… anyways, today i just got a text from someone that says…”hey Dylan your missing phone somehow ended up in Chicago. I bought it from someone. Did you ever get a new one” this guy is texting my from my old Iphone I lost 2 months ago. I was wondering if I could do anything?

  35. My older brother also has an iPhone and at three in the morning him and his friend who both worked together had been robbed at gun point at a stop light. They both had gotten their paychecks that day and had cashed them after work earlier in the day. The
    Robbers took his friends car, both of their wallets, phones, and oddly keys. When they went to the nearest gas station and called the police, they were told by the police that the only way they could look at where the robbers were at using the location of the iPhone was if there was a hostage in the car. When my brother asked the police why that was, because one of the selling points of the iPhone was that if someone stole it, the phone would be traceable. The police officer then told him that activating the gps tracking would be to expensive unless there was a hostage and it was a life or death situation. Keep in mind they had both my brothers house key with four sleeping family members and his friends house key with three sleeping family members that could have fallen victim to a home invastion with no warning or defense and the officer was well aware of this issue.

    1. did you every get a reply back on your question
      how can police find the phone if someone turned it off?
      because if you did i was wandering what the answer was cause my sis lost her iphone and she called it and they turned it off.

    2. did you every get a reply back on your question
      how can police find the phone if someone turned it off?
      because if you did i was wandering what the answer was cause my sis lost her iphone and she called it and they turned it off.

  36. my sister lost her iphone and has searched every where, for it but just couldnt find it. I was wandering is it to expenisive to get it tracked so that she could get it tracked. As she cant afford that if that is the case as the iphone set her back a fair bit. And the last month has just been bad luck for her and want to do something to help her

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