Apple’s iPhones are highly desirable and as such, they are quite a common target amongst thieves and robbers who hope to make a quick buck by selling them off. Now, the good news is that Apple has built-in some security features that are designed to render a stolen iPhone useless to discourage theft, but this isn’t always the case.

There could be several reasons why a stolen iPhone still works and why its owner hasn’t remotely disabled it yet. It could be that the person does not know that such a feature even exists, or the person might not even have known that their phone was stolen to begin with. Either way, stolen iPhones do pop up for sale every now and then so here’s how you can make sure what you’re buying is the real deal.

Step 1 – Request for the iPhone’s IMEI number

Every mobile device has its own IMEI number that’s unique to it, which you could think of as a serial number of sorts. This is a common request that people make when buying or trading second-hand phones to make sure that it’s not stolen. Some people might be uncomfortable giving away the IMEI number to a complete stranger on the internet.

If that happens, you can ask them to do the checking process for you and then send a screenshot of the results. From there, you can make a decision whether or not to proceed.

To check the iPhone’s IMEI number, go to Settings > General > About and scroll down to where it says IMEI. Alternatively, it can also be found either engraved on the back of the device, the SIM tray, the receipt, or on the barcode on the packaging of the iPhone.

Step 2 – Check the IMEI number

Once you’ve gotten the IMEI number from the seller, there are several different places online that you can check it at. It might not be a bad idea to use a couple of them just to make sure that everything is in order and confirmed.

Some websites worth checking:

Should the search results show that the phone is on a blacklist as it might have been reported as stolen, then don’t buy it. Some of the websites might show that Find My iPhone and Activation Lock are turned on, which is normal and it’s a good thing, but ask the seller to disable the features and try scanning it again.

The reason behind this is because if the person is truly the owner of the iPhone, they will know the Apple ID and password that’s needed to disable Find My iPhone and Activation Lock. This is an extra safety measure because like we said, there are instances where a person might not know that their phone has been stolen yet and thus it hasn’t been reported.

Why you shouldn’t buy a stolen iPhone

It might be tempting to buy an iPhone that was stolen as the person selling it might be willing to part with it very cheaply, but there are several reasons why. Apart from the moral issues about purchasing stolen goods, there could also be legal reasons. If the owner manages to track their phone down, the police might take the phone back from you and you obviously won’t get your money back.

Secondly, like we said, Apple has some security features designed to disable stolen or lost iPhones. This comes in the form of Activation Lock which means that until the owner signs out of their Apple ID account, the phone is essentially useless to you, so while you can turn it on, you can’t use it, meaning that you just bought yourself a very expensive paper weight.

Thirdly, carriers do share a blacklist for stolen devices. This effectively disables the SIM card slot of the phone, so even if you manage to bypass Activation Lock, if the phone is on the universal blacklist database, you won’t even be able to use a SIM card with it.

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