Detect a stolen iPhone | Ultimate Buying Guide to buying a second hand iPhone

by Ricardo Gonzalez November 20, 2019

Detect a stolen iPhone | Ultimate Buying Guide to buying a second hand iPhone

With all the backlash that Apple receives on their products the two things that many people can agree is the longevity and excellent resale value of Apple products. Even though the iPhone 6 was released in 2014, you still see plenty of people rocking the iPhone 6. Not only are people still rocking the iPhone 6 but individuals can still  purchase this used iPhone for roughly $120-$200 in the used market. Contrary to the Samsung Galaxy S5, which was also released in 2014, is much less common and can be purchased for roughly $20-$80.

Our goal for this article is not to teach people how to buy an iPhone (click here for that article) but to simply provide information to help you detect a stolen iPhone.   

Check iCloud or activation lock

There is multiple ways to check iCloud Activation lock on iPhone. This video perfectly explains the two ways to spot iCloud Activation Lock on any iPhone.

Check the IMEI or blacklist status 

The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is unique serial number given to each cell phone device. The purpose of the IMEI is to identify the iPhone and detect if the device is stolen, lost, or blacklisted.  

If you have access to the phone you can find IMEI on the iPhone by do the following:

    • Dial *#06# and the phone will give you the IMEI
    • iPhone Apple devices: Settings > General > About

If the iPhone is in factory mode do the following:

    • Press the power button
    • On the "Hello" screen click the "i" with a circle around located in the bottom right corner
    • That should prompt another page that will give information about the device

Easy way to check the IMEI Status. For Free!

    • Swappa (Account is required. Don't worry it's free)
      •  Please note that this website doesn't tell you any financial or account information. Our recommendation is to take the device to your carrier before purchasing it. 

Checking for password locks

This is one is pretty simple. Don't accept any phone with a password lock.


We've been in the phone industry long enough to know that many people unknowingly purchase stolen iPhone's. These folks are searching for deals, but some deals can be to good to be true. For this reason we wanted to compile a checklist that anyone can use as a tool to help detect if an iPhone has been stolen. We hope you find this information helpful, if so we would appreciate a share on social media. 

Ricardo Gonzalez
Ricardo Gonzalez