Recover stolen & remotely blocked iPhone

iphonedisabledMy wife’s iPhone 5S was stolen in a subway some weeks ago. As blocked it remotely, the thiefs apparently couldn’t or didn’t want to use it and dropped it. Luckily it was found and brought to Munich’s subway company’s lost & found office. Also, we triggered the remote wiping but as the phone was turned off, this never happened. So she picked it up on Friday and so my journey through the recovery began. After searching the internet for some time I came up with the following plan, which worked out quite well.

Maybe it’ll help someone else as well:

  • IMPORTANT: Remove the (in our case old and blocked by the provider) SIM card from the phone.
  • Start the phone and enter the PIN to unblock it.
  • Instantly put it into the Airplane mode to avoid it from being wiped.
  • Connect it to your computer and make a complete backup. On top, I imported all pictures and videos separately to iPhoto. Just to ensure not losing any of it, even if something else goes wrong.
  • Afterwards I put in the new SIM card, started the phone and connected it to our wireless. Remote wiping started instantly.
  • Now that there was a clean phone, I choose to do a complete reset. Therefore you have to disconnect it from your computer and restart it. While booting, hold down the home button until the iTunes logo appears. Then you connect it to your computer again and trigger the complete reset via iTunes. It’ll take some time.
  • Once that’s done, you can simply restore the backup from iTunes and there it is again. Freshly installed, completely clean and with all your data :)

All together took quite some time. Especially the wiping and recovering part is pretty time consuming. Anyway, seeing my happy smiling wife with her lost phone again was worth digging through this ;)

Keep in mind to do casual backups of your phone though. I know it’s annoying, but once you lost it, you’ll hate yourself for every picture you didn’t back up!

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