Can Police Track Your iPhone When It’s Off

Can Police Track Your iPhone When It’s Off

Many people realize the importance of phone tracking apps only the moment when they lose their phone. Usually, at that moment it is already too late to do anything since most of those apps need to be configured for tracking a lost phone before they are actually lost. 

It is possible to track a lost iPhone that has been switched off, but only to the location where the phone was last time turned on. This is because the police need the phone to be on and communicating with the cell towers, in order to properly ping its current location. A phone that has been turned off is not sending signals of any kind. 

Sometimes even the information about the last location can be very useful, especially if the lost phone is connected to other, more severe criminal cases, like an abduction. However, there are several ways you can track your phone to learn where was it seen last. 

Sometimes you have just misplaced your phone and the battery died, so learning where the phone was last switched on can help you find it. 

Find My iPhone App

The first app many Apple users will open when they realize they have lost their phone is the Find my iPhone app. This app will be useful only if you have made available the tracking option. If you haven’t activated it, it will not reveal the information about the phone location.

However, if you have turned it on, it is very likely you will be able to see the last location where your phone was switched on, and this location is usually accurate within a radius of 10 meters. 

If you are suspecting that your iPhone has been stolen, then this app is very useful since it can lock the device and delete its content, so the person who stole it cannot use your data in any way. Just make sure that you enable the Lost mode. 

Once the person who stole your device turns on the phone, it will start sending its location to the app, and you will be able to find your iPhone. The thief cannot prevent this from happening unless they keep the phone off at all times. 

This is actually one of the main reasons why Apple phones are less likely to be stolen when compared to Android devices. Although Android devices have developed some form of tracking apps, they haven’t reached the level of the Find my iPhone app. 

Using Google Maps to Track Your iPhone

If you forgot to turn on the location feature in Find my iPhone app, don’t be desperate, because there are still chances you will be able to get the trace of your mobile device. Usefully, Google Maps can reveal the last known location of your iPhone. 

Log in to the account that has been associated with the lost iPhone, and go to the part of the menu where it says “Your timeline”. Here you can select the date when your iPhone was stolen and you can see the locations that were saved on that date. The last one is where the phone was lastly been turned on. 

Just like with the previous app mentioned, there is a catch. This feature in Google Maps will work only if you haven’t disabled it. Unlike the Find my iPhone app, here it is preset that the location is being monitored, and logged. 

Some people don’t like being tracked, so they disable this feature, and then there is no backlog information about the phone’s whereabouts. In this case, the app is useless for finding a lost iPhone.

Can You Track the Phone Without Data Connection?

Normally, a phone that has been switched off cannot be connected to the internet via mobile data nor wi-fi. After all, this is not relevant at all, since the phone can be tracked even without an internet connection.

This is because the phone is tracked via a built-in GPS system that usually works independently from the internet connection. You may notice that sometimes your maps are working even if you didn’t turn on your mobile data. 

The phone is communicating with the cell phone towers at all times when it is switched on. Whenever you see that you have a phone signal, it means that the phone is successfully connected to the nearest cell phone tower. 

This connection between the phone and the cell phone towers leaves a trace, so the phone location can be easily revealed, as well as the path where it has been through. Again, I repeat that this will only work up to a point where the iPhone was turned off.

IMEI Tracking of a Lost iPhone

The most common way for police to track lost or stolen phones is by using the phone’s IMEI number. This is a unique 15 digit number assigned to every mobile device and stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. 

IMEI tracking can be very useful if you are looking for an Android device, for example. IMEI tracking of iPhones will never be as effective as the Find my iPhone app is. 

iPhone can be found by IMEI track only if you seek the help of your wireless provider. In order to do this, you need to know the IMEI of the lost device. The wireless provider can put that IMEI on a grey list of IMEI numbers, and if any information pops up, they can ring you.

Sometimes, wireless providers would require you to obtain a stolen device report from the police, in order to proceed with the IMEI tracking. IMEI tracking is done via GPS services and requires the phone to be turned on. 

Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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