On Sunday, my mom lost her iPhone. She was in a crowded movie theater with her grandkids and during the hustle and bustle, her iPhone disappeared. Unfortunately, she didn't realize it was missing until reaching for it after the movie was over, on the walk back to her car. She stopped, went to customer service and got readmitted to the theater. Her phone wasn't there. This is when she called me, using my dad's phone.
Upon learning of the missing phone, my mom and I logged into Find My iPhone, which we had set up long ago, back when she first got her phone. This free service is available within a web browser at www.iCloud.com or within the Find My iPhone app on an iPhone or iPad. It does what the name implies, find's an iPhone and shows it on a map.
Her phone didn't show up, which was strange. It had been on and the battery was charged. The only time a device won't appear is if it's turned off, out of power, or has no signal. Not appearing was a good indication that someone else was in possession of her phone and had turned it off. We tapped an option to notify us if the phone got online. We also tapped an option to enable Lost Mode, which let us set a custom message on the screen and a phone number to call if found.
The plan was simple, if we didn't find the phone within 24 hours, we'd then activate the Erase iPhone option, to completely remove all data from it. Of course, that would only work if the phone came back online. While we waited, my mom contacted her cellular provider and suspended her account to prevent the would-be thieves would from receiving any phone calls or text messages on her phone.
Several hours later, we got a phone call from a man — let's call him Bob — who said that his kids had found an iPhone and, once they realized they couldn't use it for anything, told him about it. The lock code on my mom's phone protected it from loss. Without that code, the kids would have been able to put her phone into airplane mode and use it to listen to music, look at her pictures, and play games. They might even have been able to jailbreak it and set it up as a new phone.
Later that night, my parents met Bob at a neutral location where he returned the phone. He didn't want any money; he just wanted to do what was right. My mom is back in business thanks to Find My iPhone.
How Do I Turn on Find My iPhone?
- Touch Settings > iCloud.
- Ensure the Find My iPhone toggle is enabled.