We have all heard about someone having their cell phone lost or stolen. One thing that is certain with all of the smartphone technology. The phones are just getting more and more expensive!
This fall, my new cell phone was stolen from the local high school during a sporting event. Under contract, the replacement cost for the same phone was over $500.00 and I was not ready to let the bad guy win and give up without a fight. Unfortunately I did not have the Find My iPhone app activated on my phone, but luckily I did have all of my real estate contacts backed up on my computer.
I reported the cell phone stolen with the police department. The police department entered the cell phone serial number into Leads, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES DATA SYSTEM, so if a police officer from anywhere in the U.S. locates the cell phone and runs the serial number through dispatch, it will return stolen. I knew that this was probably not likely to happen, but it is still standard procedure.
Most stolen iPhones are powered down and the sim cards are removed. Next the thief adds their own sim card or gets a sim card activated for the card.
What I did know that most people are not aware of is that all cell phone numbers have their own distinct identifying numbers that can be remotely tracked by their 15 digit IMEI number. I contacted our local representative for my phone carrier and let provided them with the IMEI number. The phone carrier entered the number into their database as a stolen phone incase someone wanted to activate a sim card to the IMEI number. I assumed this was going to be a waste of time, but just another step I felt that I had to take.
Finally, I knew the most important step that was most likely to get my phone back. I WAITED! I waited approximately one month thinking that it would take awhile for the thief to get comfortable using the phone or selling it to an unsuspecting person. I then contacted the reporting officer for a followup. I asked the reporting officer to obtain a search warrant from my cell phone carrier to obtain cell phone records to track my IMEI number. The reporting officer had a search warrant prepared and signed by a judge. The reporting officer sent the search warrant to my phone carrier's Law Enforcement Compliance Center. Approximately 2 weeks later my phone carrier delivered approximately 600 pages of data on a cd with detailed records of the 3 phone numbers and account holder information for the 3 phone numbers. After sifting through the data, the reporting officer contacted the account holder that last used the phone, made contact, and recovered my stolen phone.
It took some almost 2 months to recover the phone but it was well worth it!
All of the prosecution details are being sorted out and the legal system works very slowly but I am in possession of my phone again!
The only instance that this will not work is when the stolen cell phone is sold and shipped overseas. If the phone remains in the United States it can be tracked as long as it is used.