6 Replies Latest reply: Aug 22, 2012 5:37 AM by Dolphinadv
Dolphinadv Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Stolen iPhone 3GS. Trying to be Miss Marple and help police and Airtran solve this crime.


I used iCloud to remote lock the phone 4 hours after initial tracking took place. Stupidly sent the thief a nice message asking them to call if they found the phone using iCloud, which probably just tipped them off that I knew the phone was stolen. I haven't used remote wipe (yet) because it could severely impede tracking capability. Since locking the phone, I can't track it and have not been able to use the 4 digit code I locked it with to reopen it. Can't find info on how to unlock.Any suggestions how to unlock it remotely and continue to track it so I can report address to the police?


I have the IMEI, ICCID and serial number but not the MAC address which would make WiFi tracking by the police easier. I want to give the Atlanta police and Airtran all the info I can to catch the thief and get my phone back. Getting the MAC address would be nice. Neither Apple or ATT could help. Is there another way to get that info other than off the packing box. I thought about checking my home router history, no luck there. Can I get Apple to give me this info without a subpoena, warrant, court order?


It wasn't a fellow passenger that stole my phone, as the one and only track location I got (about 4 hours after the phone was left behind on a plane) was 200-300 yards max from the address of the cleaning contractor and outside the airport perimeter. (No one waits around Hartsfield-Jackson for 4 hours to leave the for home unless they work there--that leaves airline employees or cleaning contractors as suspects. The last known location would indicate the latter. Both Aitran and the contractor have this info.)  Also, a gate agent couldn't find the phone on the plane within 1.5 hours of it landing and before it took off again.


Reported loss to ATT and it is in their lost phone database. Any suggestions or advice on how to recover are much appreciated.


Thanks again!

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • wjosten Level 10 Level 10 (94,020 points)

    Dolphinadv wrote:

    Any suggestions how to unlock it remotely


    You can't...requires physical possession of the phone.


    Can I get Apple to give me this info without a subpoena, warrant, court order?





    Like most stolen iPhones, yours has most likely been turned off & forced into recovery mode, then restored as a new device. This would make it impossible to track it using iCloud's Find My Phone.

  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (18,245 points)

    There's nothing you can do to help the police.  Once the phone was locked, it can't be remotely unlocked. All the thief has to do is shut the phone off and restore the phone using recovery mode - everything is wiped, and can't be tracked by Find My IPhone.


    The only useful ID number is the IMEI, and then only for your carrier to blacklist it.  There are no universal blacklists for all carriers.  If your phone is carrier unlocked, it can be used on other carriers.  MAC address useless to either find or block use of the phone.


    The police will not try to track and locate the phone by any electronic methods, unless involved in other criminal activities.  It would take much too much of their resources to do so just for a phone theft.


    By far, the most common scenario for phone thefts is to wipe the phone and sell it using ebay, craigslist, etc. within hours of the theft.  Only genuine morons try to use the phone after the theft is discovered.

  • Dolphinadv Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I believe you can track using MAC address and the right tools and a good idea of general location, which means you need to figure it out quickly. Please see following and tell me if you agree: http://sbranigan.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tracking-and-recovering-a-stolen-iphon e/


    As to police resources. Cell phone theft is so easy and lucrative and there is so little chance that the police will even try to help recover the lost property that it is already the most common crime in the country now and is fueling a huge resale and used parts industry. Once I told the Atlanta Police and Airtran that the phone is locked they can both safely throw their hands up because there is no chance that it will resurface on the iCloud grid.


    Live and learn.


    I now see that other better apps are out there to better protect my property and help me recover it. It is good to know that neither Apple nor the police will be able to help you unless you really know how to help yourself.


    Several European countries have national lost cell phone and computer registries/databases that includes the serial number, IMEI and ICCID/SIM address and MAC address.


    To me, it looks like Apple wants no part of helping owners/licensees of Apple products to recover "our" stolen property. It is actually Apple's software, I only have a user license. It is not as lucrative to sell/or preload an "owner" controlled and useful "application license" with helpful instructions versus selling new phones. It is all a big money go round so just


    iCloud almost appears to be designed to help ensure that you have to buy a new product that you can then download much of what was lost on the new machine or a stolen machine purchased on ebay, craig's list, etc. Not good in my opinion, but such is life, at times.


    At least I can be pretty sure that I do not need to do a remote wipe scrub because to restart they have to wipe out. Thanks for feedback. Very useful!

  • wjosten Level 10 Level 10 (94,020 points)

    You can track a device using the device's MAC address. Just requires the right software.


    No cell phone Mfg. will help track lost/stolen phones...they want no part of this, as they are not the police & the downside(potential for abuse) exceeds any upside. The US is in the process of instituting a nationwide blacklist, and I believe AT&T already has their's up & running.

  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (18,245 points)

    The basic problem with all of this is that there is no official "title" or registry of ownership of a cell phone.  People sell and give away phones all the time, even when still under contract with a carrier.  It would be  easy for someone to scam by selling a phone and then claiming "theft" and getting the Apple or the police to "recover" it for you.  That's why Apple, as well as ALL OTHER CELL PHONE MANUFACTURERS do not get involved with "stolen" phone recovery.

  • Dolphinadv Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I bought my phone from ATT while it had the Apple exclusive in the US. I am on the original plan with ATT. At one point you were not even supposed to be able to unlock the phone and put it on another network. THE FACT is it is a lot easier to track a cell phone than a car at every moment in time that it is operating or will ever operate. There should be some core part of the phone that can be registered and title tracked just like in a car sale, otherwise we will continue to have an explosion of computer and phone theft.  The reason that a more robust system isn't in place is because of people's right to privacy and illegal search or monitoring, etc., which I support. BUT, if we don't make it tougher the police departments across the coutry will continue to get bogged down and simply ignore this form of crime. When it happens to you, you will you just roll over and say "oh well, nothing to be done/"


    When auto theft got out of hand and started costing insurance companies big bucks and insurance premiums went up rapidly and police departments got bogged down in car theft investigations pressure to establish the VIN system of tracking auto theft grew and action was taken. A robust centralized VIN ID system has reduced auto theft and chop shop activity dramatically.


    It is the police departments that are pushing for the centralized database because they are getting buried in police reports even if they are doing very little in terms of trying to solve the crimes. They won't be able to do much until a robust system is in place and the manufacturers and carriers are both encouraged or required to cooperate.


    Enough with protecting the thieves. It would not be easy to "scam" and claim theft after making a sale on a registry. How often do you think that happens with autos. I'll answer that one: ALMOST NEVER versus thieves trying to blot out or change VINs.


    Thanks for your input. I guess, we'll probably have to agree to disagree.


    By the way, no one has addressed the pitfalls in the iCloud tracking, locking system. I lock my phone. Why does that prevent tracking. Why wasn't I warned. Huh?