When hiking, on the train, in a restaurant or when shopping - if you find an iPhone or discover another foreign device, then there are some recommended tips for dealing with it. Because you can make it pretty easy for the person who owns the iPhone to get it back. But there are also some things you should not do or do only with caution. Not only because it makes finding the iPhone more difficult, but it can also get you into trouble yourself. If you've found an iPhone and want to know what to do, read this guide :)
Chapter in this post:
- 1 Important: Act immediately to be able to help properly
- 2 Best course of action: hand in the found iPhone on site
- 3 Responsibility unclear: Looking at the lock screen can help
- 4 An unlocked iPhone: Unlikely, but not impossible
- 5 Can be done: hand in the found item to the police
- 6 No Jurisdiction: Why Bring iPhones to Apple Stores?
- 7 Possible course of action: Hand it in at a nearby shop
- 8 Online hints bring only slightly increased chances, if at all
- 9 Keep iPhone: Not the best idea, but not the worst
- 10 Summary: Hand in found iPhone on site or assess chances
- 11 Similar posts
Important: Act immediately to be able to help properly
Below you will find tips for handing in the found iPhone and for finding out the owner. With all these recommendations for action, it is important that you do not wait too long. Do not take the device with you – or only if nothing else works. If you take the iPhone, iPad, or MacBook and don't do anything to return it to the person who owns the device, chances are they will erase the device via Find My, rendering it useless to themselves and others might. Or she locates it at your place and then shows up with (police) support because you seem to have stolen it.
The best course of action: hand in the found iPhone on site
If you find an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or other item that seems to be lying around without an associated person, it is best to turn it in to the facility's staff. On the train you can hand them over to the conductor, on the bus you speak to the driver, in a hotel or gym you go to the reception, in the amusement park or at a trade fair you go to the information desk or cash register, and so on.
Because if you lose something and can estimate where it happened, you will start your search there first. Maybe the facility has already asked and you can assign the lost item there directly after it has been handed in. If not, this is at least possible afterwards if someone asks. If possible, hand in the found item. Don't take them with you, as this could be considered stealing.
Of course, the found device or other found item can also belong to someone from the facility. So the chances are not bad that you hand it over directly to the person who owns it when you drop it off.
Responsibility unclear: looking at the lock screen can help
But not everywhere there is responsible staff, a lost and found office or the like. If you find an iPhone on the sidewalk, in the park, at the motorway service area, while hiking or anywhere else, then look around first. Do you see a person who is obviously looking for something lost? If not, then take a look at the lock screen. If the device has been lying around for a long time and is already over "Where is?' was reported lost, a corresponding Message with contact information will be displayed. But also through a widget (e.g. from AnyText) a reference to the ownership of the iPhone can be seen.
And even if this is not the case and you only recognize the time, the battery level and the like, you can get information for establishing contact via the lock screen. Because if the person who owns the iPhone filed an emergency pass has, you have access to it. Swipe up to go to the unlock screen. Ignore its number field and tap on "Emergency" in the bottom left. Then tap again on “Emergency Passport” in the lower left corner. There you can now read who owns the iPhone. You can also find the person's emergency contacts, if specified. You can call them to let them know that the iPhone has been found.
An unlocked iPhone: Unlikely, but not impossible
If you use an iPhone, you will certainly equip it with an unlock code and a Touch ID or Face ID. After all, these protective mechanisms are required for many services. So if you find an Apple smartphone, you will usually not be able to access its content (system, settings, apps, user data and files). In the unlikely event that this is the case, you should of course protect the privacy of the person concerned - you haven't lost anything in the Photos app, in Notes, in iCloud storage or the like.
However, if you cannot hand in your iPhone anywhere, no one seems to be looking for it in the vicinity and there is no emergency pass, you can use the contacts app. There you will find information about the owner. If not immediately apparent, there is an "I" on the right next to the corresponding entry in the contact list. The number of the found iPhone doesn't bring you anything, but you already know the name of the person. In the call list you can now select a contact who you can let know that you have found the iPhone of someone they know. In this way, further steps can be planned.
You can do it: hand in the found item to the police
Turning a found device or other item over to the police is probably one of the first instincts you have. And especially if you find it "in the wild", no contact information is visible or the device is even switched off, you will get rid of it relatively safely this way. Handing in the item to the police is a good way to get rid of the found item - because of course not everyone has the time and inclination to take it to the rightful owner themselves.
However, it may well be that you have to wait a while before you can present your request and make the submission. If you then want to pick up the iPhone, you may have to wait first. Because if someone else is on duty at the moment than the person who received the item, you may have to search for it first. Of course, one does not necessarily have to worry about making finding the device of the searching person as pleasant as possible. But you can keep it in mind.
No Jurisdiction: Why Bring iPhones to Apple Stores?
If you look online for tips on how to deal with an iPhone or other Apple device that you have found, then here and there you will be referred to the possibility of handing it over to the Apple Store. But there, even more than at a police station, you have to hope for the goodwill of the employees. Because an Apple Store is not a lost and found office, but an advice and sales point with a repair service. In addition, there are numerous employees there, so that the person to whom the device is handed in (if at all possible) does not have to be the person who is later asked about the lost property.
Also, similar to handing it in to the police, you have to hope that the person searching uses the "Where is?" locator to determine the location of the lost device. If this is not the case, then the iPhone has merely been removed from the possible location and made it more difficult or impossible to find it. Of course, there are ways in the Apple Store to pull the information needed to contact the owner out of the device. But whether this is even allowed for the return of the device with regard to data protection regulations, I do not know.
Also: There aren't Apple Stores in every city, and certainly not in the country. In most cases, the delivery there would mean a considerable detour for both the finder and the seeker.
Possible course of action: Hand it in at a nearby shop
There may not be any police stations or Apple Stores in pedestrian zones, inner cities or even in villages, but there are at least small shops or branches of chain stores. If you find the iPhone or another lost property near such a shop (or a café or similar), you can ask there whether you can hand it in or whether someone has already asked for it. If the found item is accepted, you can get rid of it quickly. In addition, the business is within the possible search radius. However, limited shop opening hours could make collection more difficult.
Electronics stores, cell phones and cell phone deals are probably a good solution. Because they at least know their way around there, and maybe the people there will have the idea of looking for contact information in the emergency card. Or they look at the display from time to time after the delivery to see the message sent via lost mode. In addition, smaller shops have the advantage that fewer people work there and there should be more knowledge about previously sold items. But here, too, one must hope for goodwill and reckon with the fact that the iPhone will not be accepted in the first place.
Online hints, if any, bring only slightly increased chances
So if you've found an iPhone, but there's no real way to implement the tips mentioned so far, then there are other approaches. For example, you can leave the device - maybe a bit hidden to protect it from theft. That way, people who search for it or track it back with the help of "Where Is?" can find it. If there is no drop-off point, no shop, no direct contact option and you don't want to leave it lying around, you could also take the iPhone you found with you.
However, always remember that the device may be traceable and you could be confronted as a thief. In order to have proof that this is not you, you can refer to the find online - on classified ads, on nebenan.de, in corresponding Facebook groups, in WhatsApp, Telegram– or signal status, etc. However, the chances that the person looking for you will become aware of you directly or through a third party are not very high. Someone would have to actively search online or there would have to be mutual acquaintances for some procedures.
Of course, you can also search for clues yourself on various platforms that someone has lost their iPhone and is now looking online. But even here you don't just need luck, the whole thing also takes time.
Keep iPhone: Not the best idea, but not the worst
As already mentioned, if you just keep the iPhone, you could be accused of theft. However, if you do decide to do it -- for example, to charge the battery to make tracking easier for the person searching -- then here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Look immediately for contact options as a text overlay or via the emergency pass!
- Keeps iPhone where it has a good cellular connection and is within Bluetooth range of other Apple devices (for using the Find My network); activates Bluetooth, WLAN and mobile data via the if necessary control center
- Keep an eye on the display in case the message with contact information appears at some point
- Post online that you found the iPhone and what it looks like (attach photos of the device and its lock screen if possible)
- If necessary, place a message on your house or apartment door that refers to the find (and when you can be found) - this directly defuses the confrontation situation during the follow-up!
Summary: Hand in the found iPhone on site or assess the chances
In conclusion, the best way to deal with a found iPhone - or any other lost property - is to hand it in to staff at the nearest facility or transportation facility. If this is not possible, you should look for contact options on the relevant device, for example via the emergency pass. If none of that works, you can leave the iPhone (perhaps hidden from thieves' eyes) where it was found or take it with you. However, the latter should be accompanied with caution and active attempts to bring it back.
If you have any other tips or your own experiences, please leave a comment!
[On vacation] After graduating from high school, Johannes completed training as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which led to his independence. He has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others, for several years now. His articles include product introductions, news, instructions, video games, consoles and much more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.