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A step-by-step guide for recovering your stolen iPhone… and proof that it works

Published Nov 11th, 2014 1:52PM EST
Find My iPhone Lost Mode
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If your iPhone has ever gone missing and you fear that it’s been stolen, don’t fret too much — it turns out there’s a pretty simple way to get it back that doesn’t involve calling the cops. The Verge’s Sam Sheffer over the weekend got his iPhone 6 Plus stolen right from his back pocket but instead of panicking, he borrowed his brother’s iPhone 6, installed Find My iPhone on it and got to work tracking the device. Below, we’re written up a step-by-step summary of how Sheffer got his device back.

RELATED: Here’s what not to do if someone steals your iPhone

  • The first thing you should try when using Find My iPhone is the option to immediately make your missing device make a loud noise. Sheffer tried this first but he had no luck simply because the club he was in was very noisy. This brought him to Step 2…
  • Next, you should ask Find My iPhone to put your device in Lost Mode. When you do this, the app will ask you to enter in a phone number where you can be reached and to add a message asking someone to return the iPhone to you. This too failed to work for Sheffer because his iPhone was stolen and the person who swiped it obviously wasn’t the kind of person who would return it if you asked them nicely.
  • If these two steps fail then your next bet is to just follow the tracker on the app, which updates every 30 seconds or so with your phone’s approximate coordinates. For most of the night, the man who stole Sheffer’s iPhone remained in the crowded bar, which didn’t help Sheffer out. Once he saw the device move out of the bar and across the street, however, he knew that he’d found his man. He approached the man and quickly got his iPhone back.

That said, Sheffer doesn’t recommend that anyone do what he did since he literally had no idea if the man who stole his iPhone was armed or potentially dangerous. We’ve heard stories in the past about people getting into trouble while trying to track down iPhone thieves so it’s probably wise to report the device as stolen no matter how tempting it might be to be a vigilante.

To read more about Sheffer’s harrowing tale, be sure to check out the source link below.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.