I work in a backpacker hostel where people from around the world leave behind an amazing amount of stuff, not all of which is junk.

I've noticed that a Macbook Air model A1465 / 2631 has been sitting here for a couple of weeks.

Now that I've checked that it doesn't belong to any staff member I'm wondering if it might be lost or stolen.

Is there either some way online or via the Apple Store that lost and stolen Macs are tracked?

I am a technical computer person but I'm not a Mac person, it doesn't turn on, and there's no power cable. But there is a Mac Store I can get to if need be.

PLEASE DO NOT OFFER LEGAL ADVICE. I'm following our workplace procedures and my local laws. I'm only asking here for the technical advice.

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    I've removed all the comments, please use the chat room for extended discussions.
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 8:40

3 Answers 3


No, it is impossible to tell if a found Macbook Air is lost or stolen via physical examination of the device or its operating system.

  • Computers of the Apple MacBook Air line are not equipped with Kensington security slot which might indicate theft if damaged.

  • Mac OS X or any other contemporary operating system that can be installed on MacBook Air device does not have any property that changes at the moment of theft.

Apple Inc. published the article "Report a lost or stolen Apple product" on their official support pages with clear instructions for users of Apple products which got lost or stolen:

If you have lost or found an Apple product, please contact your local law enforcement agency to report it.

Quoted from the version last modified on Mar 18, 2016

Hence the only official way to make sure if a particular unit was stolen is to contact appropriate local law enforcement agency.

  • "property that changes at the moment of theft"? There's no need to mock. I'm not asking about anything magical. I'm asking about exactly the kinds of things ArchonOSX mentioned. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:11
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    "Mock"? Why did you think so? You were asking exactly: "Can I tell if a found Macbook Air is lost or stolen?" and not what an Apple user can do when they have the device in hands to have a chance to find a lost device in future.
    – techraf
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:14

If I had forgotten my Macbook Air I would be delighted if you first went to an apple store. Even if there is no 'Find my iPhone' installed there is still the possibility that the owner has registered his/her Macbook Air with Apple – so I do see some hope that the original owner could be found this way.

Another option I see would be to check the Contacts – or even better Apple Mail app to find the owner – if the Macbook Air is not password protected.

I know some people would probably disapprove, but I successfully returned already two phones I found by simply calling somebody from the contact list.

  • We don't know if it's stolen. A previous guest may have stolen it and left it here. A previous guest may have purchased it from somebody who stole it. There are probably other possibilities I haven't thought of. On the other hand it might be and old model with a dead battery that's too expensive to replace so they just left it behind ... Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 8:14
  • @hippietrail you really are overthinking this; it sounds like you are waiting for someone to give you a certain answer. You put it on a shelf and wait for someone to contact you and say "I forgot my MacBook Air." Then you give it back to them.
    – miken32
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:01
  • Believe it or not we get several truckloads of stuff left behind per year! We don't keep it all forever. I believe we keep it for three months for someone to come back and claim it. Most of it is less seemingly valuable but neither is this the first Mac laptop left behind as junk. If it is unwanted I will try to fix it, but first I want to find its owner. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:07
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    @hippietrail Regarding the battery thing, batteries cost like $25 and even the oldest MacBook Air is worth at least a few hundred. Even completely broken, there are people like me who buy them to try and fix them. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 17:45
  • Turns out the monitor backlight is dead but Apple only replaces the whole display at over $300 AUD. The SSD is either dead, corrupt, or missing. They didn't open it up but that would also be over $300 AUD. I stupidly forgot to ask them if they could check if the serial number was on a lost/stolen list. The overseas school group we think left it said nobody in the group reported it missing. Looks like it as left behind as junk. Will get a techie friend to open it up. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 11:05

To directly answer your question: yes.

If the owner set up the "Find my Mac" option it could be found online. I am not sure if the dead battery prevents this or if it uses a backup battery for this function. Plus if they were traveling abroad their network carrier may not support this.

If the original owner registered the serial number with Apple for warranty then Apple would know who originally bought it. However, it could have been re-sold and from that point there is no way to tell who owns it.

So, the easiest way to find the owner is to charge it up, start it up, and see if it auto logs in. Then find their contact info in the Contacts app. If it requires a password to log in then you are back to square one.

Good luck!

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