[Tips] How To make a Theft-Proof iPhone for Beginners

Like all shiny toys, your iPhone is always at risk of being stolen. Given your iPhone's hefty price tag, and the amount of personal data that it houses (name, telephone number, address, place of employment, email address, passwords, online bank account information, private emails, etc...), it is imminent for all iPhone users to protect their phone. While nobody can keep a thief from snatching the device out of their pockets, there are several vital steps which can be made that greatly increase your chances of getting your iPhone back.

1. Turn On Passcode Lock

Sure, this is an amateur tip - but let's face the facts. Most people out there do not implement a passcode lock on their iPhones. And they should. While it won't prevent anyone from snatching your phone, it'll keep your private information private. Here's how you do it.

1. Go to "Settings".
2. Go to "General".
3. Go to "Passcode".
4. Enter a 4 digit password.
5. Remember it.  

2. Auto-Lock

Your iPhone has an auto-lock option, which (obviously) automatically locks your phone after a chosen period of time, and requires the previously mentioned 4 digit passcode to unlock it. It would be best to have the auto-lock set on either one or two minutes to ensure that the amount of time your iphone spends unlocked is minimized. 

3. Record Your iPhone's IMEI Number and Serial Number

Your iPhone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is a fifteen digit number used by wireless carriers to identify your phone. You can find it on the back of your iPhone along with your serial number and FCC ID. Both are important to have when reporting a lost or stolen device.


You can assign a PIN (personal identification number) to your SIM (subscriber identity module) card, so it can't be used in other phones without the PIN. It must be entered only when you turn the iPhone on, or replace the SIM card. 

1. Go to "Settings".
2. Go to "Phone".
3. Turn on "SIM PIN".
4. You are prompted to enter the current PIN, at which point you must enter the default PIN number. If you are an AT&T customer in the US, the code is "1111". Go here for a list of international default SIM PINS.
5. After entering the default, you can change the code and make it whatever secret combination your heart desires. 

5. Frequently Back Up Your iPhone

Backing up your device is crucial in all situations. Whether you lose your phone, are the victim of a theft, or simply have a buggy iPhone that decides to crash one day, backing up your iPhone is a simple, necessary step to insure the safety of your data. 

6. GadgetTrak - VERY-COOL
Gadgettrak icon
Price: Free
iTunes Link

This application is brilliant in its simplicity. It dupes the burglar into inadvertently sending you his precise location. Here's how it works.
  1. Download the application.
  2. Go to "Settings" on your iPhone, and go to "GadgetTrak". Choose a browser homepage. (The default is Yahoo.)
  3. Enter your iPhone's serial number. 
  4. Open the application and register for free with your email and password.
  5. Go to http://www.gadgettrak.com/ and log in to activate tracking. 
  6. When you open the application, it opens your homepage just like Safari, but the magic happens in the background. It sends out the location of your iPhone, along with GPS coordinates, maps, IP address, carrier, and ISP data.
  7. Notice the near identical resemblence between the "GadgetTrak" homepage icon and the "Safari" homepage icon.  
  8. The Safari icon is typically on the bottom panel on most iPhones. Swap GadgetTrak in place of Safari. 
  9. When an unsuspecting iPhone burglar decides to browse the web on your dearly missed gadget, he will unknowingly give away his location - and you'll get your iPhone back safe. (You should probably have the police come with you.)  

7. FindMe
Price: Free

Twitter logo

FindMe is an application for jailbroken iPhones which automatically updates the location of your iPhone on Twitter. You gotta create a new, private Twitter account, and do some seemingly detailed code tweeking, but it's all just a matter of copy and pasting the info found on Erica Sadun's TUAW article

8. PhoneScream

Price: $0.99
This application will play a loud siren and vibrate rigorously when an unauthorized user moves the phone. How does it work?

1. Download the application.
2. Choose a siren or record a custom sound. 
3. In your iPhone's general settings, turn on "Passcode Lock".
4. Next time you leave your iPhone sitting somewhere, open the application, and rest assured that as soon as someone nudges the phone, a loud alarm will ring causing (maybe causing) the person to put the phone back down. However, given the siren and the passcode lock, the robber (or pesky sibling trying to get on your iPhone and raid the App Store), will realize that they messed with the wrong iPhone.


This application is more appropriate for social use, for it might not keep an actual theif from taking your phone, it will definitely prevent siblings, parents, and friends from playing with your iPhone while you run to the other room. 

9. Motion Alarm

Price: $1.99

Motion Alarm is a more grown up version of the previous application, PhoneScream. The difference (other than the extra dollar you'll be paying) is in the added features.
  • ability to adjust the sensitivity level to distinguish between actual unauthorized use and simple random movement
  • choose an alarm sound  
  • alarm detonation delay control  
  • blocks iPhone sleep mode  
  • GPS Tracking  
  • Stealth Mode  


The power of this application exists in the following scenario. You turn on Motion Alarm, set the appropriate sensitivity level, throw your iPhone in your laptop bag, and walk to the subway. If a thief snatches the iPhone out of your bag, you'll instantly hear the siren go off. If he manages to outrun you, the app puts the iPhone in silent stealth mode, while sending it's GPS locations to an email address of your choice. 

10. If your iPhone was already lost or stolen, here's what you should do. Try your best to implement the tips above so you won't get to the point where the information below applies to you. 

  1. Notify AT&T so they deactivate the wireless account so the thief can't run up your phone bill.
  2. File a police report. Sometimes the police are far too busy with issues of larger magnitude, but other times they can be very helpful. Since it's likely you keep a lot of personal information on your iPhone that thieves can put to good use, you might also want to sign up for an identity theft protection service.
  3. Notify your contacts. It's important that people who contact you through that phone number know it's not you who their calling or texting. The thief (given his thief-like nature) can try to trick your contacts into some thief-like scheme by pretending to be you.   
  4. Change all your passwords.     
Bad bad boys, Bad bad boys what you going do. went they get to you. hehehe