How to check if an iPhone is stolen

Buying a used smartphone is often a crapshoot because you don’t know its history. A new tool introduced by Apple on Thursday will make buying iPhones easier by allowing users to check on the web whether a device has Apple’s remote lock feature turned on. You can find the tool here.

Using the Activation Lock lock status tool is straightforward. It’s on, and asks for a device’s IMEI unique identifier. If the device in question has Apple’s Activation Lock feature on, it will provide a message confirming that Find My iPhone is activated as well as instructions for wiping the device for sale. It is standard operating procedure for trade-in companies to confirm that Activation Lock is off before purchasing used iPhones.


Apple’s new tool does not check whether the device is carrier locked or whether it has been reported stolen to a police department.

[company]Apple[/company] introduced Activation Lock with iOS 7. It allows users to remotely lock down their device, which essentially means that a user can flip a switch on the web, and render their iPhone unusable until they sign onto the device with their Apple ID, which a thief wouldn’t be able to do. If the thief doesn’t have the password associated with the phone’s Apple ID, then he or she will be unable to turn off Find My iPhone, erase, or reactivate the device.

I recently had a iPhone stolen, and although Activation Lock was unable to return the device back to me, I took some solace in the fact that it was bricked for whoever nabbed it. Apple’s new tool will ensure that the thief has a harder time unloading that stolen phone, and you should check it every time before buying a secondhand iPhone.