How I recovered my iPhone

Last weekend, while attending my nieces joint birthday party, my iPhone 5S went missing. Near as I can tell, it was in my bag, fell out, and was picked up by a woman who took it home. I did not discover this until the party was over, roughly 30 minutes after it was stolen. How did I know when it was stolen? Well, if you’re a Google user (Gmail, Youtube, etc.) you may know that they track your phone’s location. This is something you can opt out of (more info here) if you’re interested to know if they are tracking you, you can check here: Moving on, here is a map that tracks my phones location from the point it was stolen.


It was not until after the party that I realized my phone was gone. This was ironic because I snakily noticed all the parents on their cell phones ignoring their children, and made sure not to be on mine. If I would have went for my phone I would realized it was missing, and found it, oh cruel irony. Once I realized it was missing, I grabbed Bethany’s phone, opened up Find My iPhone, and put my phone in “Lost Mode”

I opened up “Find My iPhone” on Bethany’s phone and selected my phone.

Once it located my phone, I click “Actions” in the bottom margin and put my phone in “Lost Mode.”

I was then prompted to choose a call back number, so I entered Bethany’s number.

I was then prompted to type a personalized message; at this point, I kept the default.


From that moment on my phone was in “Lost Mode” and this showed up on the screen.

Once I returned home, I decided it would be good to secure my phone and all the accounts attached to it (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Well Fargo, E-mail, Evernote etc.). I went through and changed all my passwords so people would be unable to view my private information. Once that was done, I did a little detective work. I went to, signed in, and went to Find My iPhone. I put together all the info I had, Google tracking + Find My iPhone, and created a timeline. I figured if I had to turn in any information to the police, I should have some details to help them out. Though, I was told by the police that apartment complexes were notoriously difficult to find phones in. Periodically, I checked to see if the location had changed. After a while, I decided to get some more info on the specific location, so I went to where Find My iPhone said my phone was. Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything stupid. I found out the name of the apartment complex of Routier Road, where my phone was located at, and the building number it was nearest to (Building 10). I marked that down, and returned home.

I should say here that I have a jailbroken iPhone 5s with a tweak installed that does not allow a locked iPhone to be shut down. I did this specifically so if someone stole my phone, they couldn’t shut off my phone and render Find my iPhone useless. Throughout the day, using Find My iPhone, I played sounds on my phone (this plays on max volume whether the phone is muted or not). My goal was (1) to annoy the person, and (2) to alert parents just in case it was a child who stole it.

After talking to my friends, I decided to personalize the message that displayed on my phone. My battery was at about 18%, so I knew I didn’t have much more time. The message read “I believe my phone has been stolen. I know it is in a complex of Routier.  I will be giving this info to the police.  I will not do that if you return it.” At that point, there was not much more I could do. I buzzed the phone a few times late at night, and the following morning, and planned on doing that until my phone died.

When I returned home from Church on Sunday, Bethany asked “Did you get my message?” I had not because I was using an iPod and could only get messages on wifi. Someone had called about my phone, so I returned the call. A woman frantically explained she had not stolen my phone, and added “please don’t call the police.” She explained that she had found my phone, was sidetracked by her child, and forgot to turn it in to the front desk. It wasn’t until the next day she realized she had it. I explained to her that I was not upset, I just wanted my phone back and would not be contacting the police since she was returning it. She returned the phone to the Sacramento Children’s Museum; I went to pick it up, and I had my phone back.

This was quite an ordeal, as you can imagine. I’m thankful to have my phone back because I couldn’t have afforded a new one. I hope maybe this helps you out, and informs you what options you have if something similar happens to you in the future.

I would love to hear if you, or anyone you know, has experienced a stolen and recovered phone using Find My iPhone, please share your story in the comments!


Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.