How Can A Thief Unlock A Stolen iPhone

If your iPhone has been stolen and you are not sure if it can be used by the thief, you might want to know how to unlock a stolen iPhone. This way you will know if your stolen device can be used by whoever took your phone. This guide explains this matter in detail for you.

Author Avatar Joy Taylor Last Updated: Aug. 12, 2021

The security features on the iPhone are so robust that many users wonder if and how to use a locked iPhone. Your iPhone can get locked if it is stolen or is lost. You can head over to the iCloud website after finding out that your phone is lost. You can then mark your phone as lost on the website and Apple will lock the phone for you.

Even if you do not do that, your phone will be locked when someone tries to erase it. Reactivating the set-up iPhone will ask the user for your iCloud login details, which they probably should not have. Then, can a thief unlock my iPhone without passcode and Apple ID if the phone ever gets stolen? The answer is Yes. Here in this post, we will share some methods for how to unlock a stolen iPhone. So that, you can get to know can a stolen iPhone be used by the thief and what security features you should and should not use on your phone.

Unlock a Locked iPhone by Entering Recovery Mode

One of the ways for someone to enter your locked iPhone to some extent is to use the iOS recovery mode. This mode comes built with your iOS device and you can use it to repair many features on the phone. This mode is mainly used to restore the iPhone using the Finder or iTunes. If you have ever had issues with your phone before, you have likely used this method to repair your device.

Unfortunately, if the thief knows how to use this iOS recovery mode, they can actually erase your device including all the content you have ever stored on it. They can then try to get into your device and use the phone like it is theirs.

However, they will not be able to do that. That is because the phone will require the user to enter the original owner’s Apple ID details. If they fail to do that, the phone will remain locked. If you are curious about how this procedure works, the following shows the procedure step-by-step.

Step 1. Launch the Finder if you are on Mac or launch iTunes if you are a Windows user.

Step 2. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.

Step 3. Depending on what model you have, use one of the following key combinations to enter the recovery mode:

Enter Recovery Mode on the iPhone

Enter Recovery Mode on the iPhone

  • iPhone 8 or later: press Volume Up and release it, press Volume Down and release it, press and hold down the Side button and you will enter recovery.
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus: Press the Side or Top button and Volume Down button together. You will see the recovery mode on your iPhone.
  • iPhone 6S or earlier: press and hold down the Home and Side or Top buttons at the same time. Your iPhone will reboot into recovery mode.

Step 4. Find your iPhone in the Finder or iTunes. You will get a prompt that asks if you want to restore your device. Click on the Restore button to restore your iPhone.

Restore An iPhone in Recovery Mode

Restore An iPhone in Recovery Mode

Unlock iPhone by Guessing Screen Password

When someone steals your iPhone, the first thing that they are going to do is guess your screen passcode so they can access the phone. They will most likely start with a simple passcode such as 000, 1234, 6666, 8888, and so on. This is the most basic thing they will do to get into your phone.

In case they succeed in entering the correct passcode, they should have access to your iPhone and all the contents stored on it. However, if they fail to enter the correct passcode, your iPhone will remain unlocked.

Your iPhone only offers a certain number of attempts for entering the incorrect passcode. If the thief exceeds this limit, your iPhone will get disabled. A disabled iPhone requires even further steps and certain verifications for it to be unlocked. This is something they will not be able to do without the help of the original owner.

What that basically tells you is that you should always keep a complex passcode as your iPhone’s screen passcode. This way, if anyone ever steals your device, they will not be able to guess the passcode and as a result, they will not be able to use your iPhone.

Unlock iPhone with Third-Party Tools

Someone can also unlock a stolen iPhone with some professional iPhone unlocking tool, such as AnyUnlock – iPhone password unlocker as below. These unlocking softwares are designed to help users who forgot their iPhone passcode get into the locked phone. Therefore, a locked iPhone can be unlocked through that. You can check the details below.


Getting an iPhone locked is pretty common these days. If you’ve ever forgotten your iPhone passcode, Apple ID, for example, then that can also get your device locked. That is when an app like AnyUnlock can help you.

AnyUnlock is for both Windows and Mac machines that allow you to unlock any of your iOS devices. All you need to do is connect your iPhone to your computer, click on an option, and the iPhone screen passcode can be reset, or you can remove Apple ID from your device.

To unlock a locked iPhone:

Step 1. Download AnyUnlock on your computer > Connect locked iPhone via USB cable > Click Unlock Screen Passcode. If you need to remove Apple ID, click Unlock Apple ID.

Free Download

Free Download

* 100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

Choose Unlock Screen Passcode

Choose Unlock Screen Passcode

Step 2. Download a matched firmware before unlocking.

Download iOS Firmware

Download iOS Firmware

Step 3. Once the firmware is downloaded, click Unlock Now to start the unlocking process.

Tap on Unlock Now to Remove Screen Passcode

Tap on Unlock Now to Remove Screen Passcode

Step 4. Wait for a minute, and the screen passcode was removed successfully.

Screen Passcode Removed Successfully

Screen Passcode Removed Successfully

Your iPhone then becomes usable and the person can then link it to their own Apple account. This method can be used by a thief as well to unlock your iPhone. Since all this requires a user to do is to grab an app, anyone with a reasonable amount of tech knowledge can do that. Also, the method does not ask the user for the original owner’s iCloud login details. Because of this, someone who has stolen your iPhone can bypass the lock screen and get right into your device.

If the Find My iPhone has been enabled, the Activation lock will be activated once someone factory reset the locked iPhone. And you can check some detailed steps about how to bypass the activation lock on iPhone or iPad.


If your iPhone gets stolen and the thief tries to erase iPhone with the iTunes, your phone will get locked when it is erased. This erased iPhone will then keep prompting for the original owner’s iCloud password. If that password cannot be entered, the phone remains locked.

That very issue has actually given birth to many iPhone unlocking websites. There are dozens of sites out there that help you remove the so-called iCloud activation lock from your phone. IMEI24 is one of these sites and it allows you to remove the activation lock from your iPhone for a small fee.

Use IMEI24 to Remotely Unlock An iPhone

Use IMEI24 to Remotely Unlock An iPhone

To use the site, you can just open the site in your browser, enter your iPhone’s details, make a payment, and your iPhone will be unlocked in a few days. Someone who has stolen your iPhone can actually use that site to get rid of the lock from the device. They can then use the phone without worries of any locks.

To prevent that from happening, you can actually do one thing. You can mark your iPhone as lost with Apple and Apple will blacklist your phone. This way it will become a bit harder for the thief to get your iPhone unlocked.


IMEI Unlock SIM is yet another website that helps you to remove various locks from your iOS-based devices. Since a stolen iPhone could have mostly only one type of lock which is the activation lock, this site offers you that unlocking service as well to get rid of the lock from your phone.

Unlock An iPhone with IMEI Unlock SIM

Unlock An iPhone with IMEI Unlock SIM

A thief can access this site using their browser and enter the stolen iPhone’s IMEI or serial number. They can then go ahead and make a payment for the unlock. In about five to ten days, the service can remotely unlock the iPhone making the phone available free to use by anyone.

This is one of the many services out there that help people remove the activation locks from their devices. While this is definitely a great service for the occasions like when you buy a second-hand iPhone and you cannot contact the original owner to unlock the phone, it is not a good thing for someone whose iPhone has just been stolen.

If you mark your iPhone as lost with Apple and Apple blacklists the phone, there is less likely that the thief will be able to unlock your device. Blacklisted iPhones are extremely difficult to unlock, if not impossible.

Related Questions to a Stolen iPhone:

How to Lock Stolen iPhone?

You can use Apple Lost Mode to lock a stolen iPhone if you lost iPhone and want to lock it to avoid privacy loss. Lost Mode allows you to lock your device and others can’t access your personal information. The thief has no access to any features on your iPhone.

To turn on Lost Mode:

  1. Go to and log in > Tap on Find My iPhone.
  2. Click All Devices, then select the device you want to put into Lost Mode or lock.

    Enable Lost Mode for your Device

    Enable Lost Mode for your Device

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate on your chosen device.

If an iPhone is Reported Stolen Can it be Unlocked?

If you found your lost iPhone when you already activated Lost Mode, how can you unlock it? You can unlock a lost iPhone that is reported stolen by turning off Lost Mode:

  • Method 1: Simply enter your passcode on the device.
  • Method 2: Also go to and click Find my iPhone > Click All Devices and find the device that is in Lost Mode > Click Stop Lost Mode to unlock the iPhone that you found it.

Can Someone Unlock it If they Steal your iPhone?

Normally, someone cannot unlock your iPhone without a passcode. However, they can factory reset your iPhone and unlock it using the above method or some iPhone unlocking tools.

If you turned on Find my iPhone earlier, the Activation Lock can protect your iPhone furtherly.

Also, you can set up Lost Mode to protect your personal information and track your device in Lost Mode. And Lost Mode allows you to display a custom message about how to contact you on your device screen.

What to do if you Find a Lost iPhone that is Locked?

You can first contact the previous owner through the information if the owner turned on Lost Mode. If you can’t find the owner after tried the methods, or you bought a second-hand iPhone but can’t contact the previous owner, you may try to unlock the iPhone with the above methods legally.


“How to unlock a stolen iPhone” is a question someone wonders whose iPhone has been stolen. This tells the original owner if their iPhone can indeed be unlocked by whoever stole the phone. Our guide above answers this question with examples.

Author Avatar
Joy Taylor Twitter Share Facebook Share

Member of iMobie team as well as an Apple fan, love to help more users solve various types of iOS & Android related issues.

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