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I have lost my iPhone5 and had a sick feeling that the phone has been erased and cleared before Find my IPhone has even had the chance to detect it. Is this possible?

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2 Answers 2

Be patient and keep trying, it might show up after they turn it on.

But keep reading what else could have happened.

Recovery Failed: What Now?

So now your iPhone’s been missing for a while, and you haven’t been able to track it down. The thief may have turned the phone off, erased it or removed the SIM card. Or the thief is in another country, and you’re getting no help from the authorities (and don’t want to get it yourself). At this point tracking is unfortunately no longer an option, and many people give up. Do not despair, for there is yet hope!

If, for some reason, you didn’t set a SIM PIN, the first thing you’ll want to do is inform your phone provider/carrier to disable your SIM and potentially save you many dollars of calls.

Next, file a police report and give them your device’s serial number and IMEI (phone only). Thieves occasionally get nabbed with a whole bunch of stolen stuff, this way they’ll be able to return your device to you. You may want to consider wiping your device to ensure that your personal data does not fall into the wrong hands. You can remotely wipe your device from within Find My iPhone, but note that once your device is wiped, you will no longer be able to track it. If you’re a corporate user and your iPhone/iPad is configured to sync with Exchange, you can also remotely wipe your device through your Outlook Web Access (OWA). Simply log in, click Options in the top right, then Mobile Devices in the left-hand menu, and finally select the device you want to wipe and click Wipe All Data from Device.

The final step, to be taken when you’re pretty sure your phone will never return, is to disable it so that it will be useless to anyone else. In some countries can give your carrier your phone’s IMEI, and they can blacklist it, essentially rendering the phone useless (nice paperweight though). At that point if you do manage to get your phone back, however, you won’t be able to use it as it’s not possible to remove a device from the IMEI blacklist (to my knowledge). Note that not all carriers in all countries are willing to add devices to the blacklist (the US recently introduced a blacklist).

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Yes. Sadly, a thief might steal 10 phones and discard the ones that are locked hoping that some are not protected with Find My Friends like yours was.

The phone can only report location if it has a viable network connection, so it is entirely possible it was taken to (or placed in) an area with no cell coverage and no WiFi coverage and/or simply turned off.

However, if the thief or anyone else does erase the phone, the iOS 7 activation lock will eventually report back to you since the device will need a viable network connection to become active again once it's been erased so you might keep that device in your iCloud list even for 6 months or longer in case the thief is patient and hopes to resell it at some point down the road.

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