How to Find a Stolen or Lost iPad, Even When It’s Off or Offline

An iPad is perhaps one of the last gadgets you’d want to be stolen, regardless of the Find My app set in place by Apple. But if the unthinkable has happened, Apple has these steps ready to help you find it and to protect your information. Allow us to walk you through the steps to discover your iPad’s location by using the Find My app, even if its battery has been drained and even if it’s no longer connected to the internet.

How to Find a Lost iPad Using Apple’s Find My App

Find My is a free service provided by Apple. It is easy to set up and is probably the most valuable app on your Apple device. It also works for your iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac so you can keep track of all your Apple devices. The Find My feature is turned on by default. To check for yourself if Find My is turned on (or to turn it on if it’s off), follow these steps:

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  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on iCloud.
  3. Look for Find My iPad.
  4. If Find My iPad says Off, tap on it.
  5. Turn Find My iPad on.
  6. Tap on Allow on the pop-up box.

If the Find My app is, for some reason, off and your iPad has already been stolen, you obviously can’t use it to track down the device. You can, however, still protect your data with these steps:

  1. Change your Apple ID password. By changing your Apple ID password, you can prevent anyone from accessing your iCloud data or using other services (such as iMessage or iTunes) from your missing device.
  2. Change the passwords for other internet accounts on your device. This can include email accounts, Facebook, or Twitter.
  3. Report your lost or stolen device to local law enforcement. Law enforcement might request the serial number of your device. Find your device serial number.
  4. Report your lost or stolen device to your wireless carrier. Your carrier can disable the account, preventing phone calls, texts, and data use.

Finding your lost iPad

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Once Find My is turned on or enabled, follow these steps to recover your lost iPad:

  1. On another device, sign in to icloud.com/find on the web or use the Find My app on another Apple device.
  2. Click Find iPhone on iCloud.com. A map will appear showing your location and any device that is linked to your Apple ID. If it finds your iPad, the iPad’s name and image will appear if you have one Apple device. 
  3. If you have more than one Apple device, a notice telling you how many devices were found will appear on the screen. Tap or click All Devices at the top of the screen and choose which device is lost on the drop-down list. You could look at your home or work addresses to see devices that are at those locations too.
  4. Choose from among the actions Apple allows you to do at this point:
  • Play sound. If the device is nearby, you can have it play a sound to help you or someone nearby find it. If you pick this option, your iPad will start beeping so that you can find it. Tap OK on your iPad screen to make your iPad stop beeping.
  • Mark as lost. This will remotely lock your device with a passcode. You can also display a custom message with your contact information on your missing device’s lock screen. This option keeps track of your iPad’s location whenever it moves. If you added credit, debit, or prepaid cards to Apple Pay, the ability to make payments using Apple Pay on the device is suspended if your device is in Lost Mode.
  • Erase device. To prevent anyone else from accessing the data on your missing device, you can erase it remotely. When you erase your device, all your information (including credit, debit, or prepaid cards for Apple Pay) is deleted from the device, and you won’t be able to find it using the Find My app or Find iPhone on iCloud.com anymore. Note that after you erase a device, you can’t track it. If you remove the device from your account after you erase it, Activation Lock will be turned off. This allows another person to turn on and use your device.
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Off or offline iPad

You can now find a lost iPad that is turned off, thanks to a new feature in iOS 13. The Find My service on iOS 13 can track Apple devices using a Bluetooth signal that they produce, which can then be “seen” by Bluetooth beacons in shops and so on. This means that even if your lost iPad is not connected to the web, it will still be able to broadcast its location to you. 

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To do this, Offline Mode has to be enabled first, but it is on by default. Here’s how you check:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on the section at the top with your photo and name.
  3. Tap on Find My iPhone.
  4. Enable Offline Finding should be on. This will enable the iPhone to be found when not connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile network.
  5. Send Last Location should also be on. This will send the location details of the last known location of the iPad (before it ran out of battery, for example). The last known location of your iPhone will be stored for 24 hours after the battery runs out. 

If these settings were turned on, follow the previous steps in locating your lost iPad using another device.

Caution

Never attempt to retrieve your iPad by yourself if you think it has fallen into the wrong hands. There have been reports of people attempting to recover stolen iPads after using the Find My app, and they ended up being hurt or incarcerated. One of such cases was of a man tracking down and killing the person who stole his son’s iPhone. He claimed he lashed out in self-defense after being stabbed by the thief, but he eventually pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and was jailed for six years.

Instead of taking matters into your own hands, use the information provided by the Find My app to help the police with their investigation. Law enforcement might request the serial number of your device.

iPad serial number

When you report a stolen or lost iPad to the police, you may need to give them its serial number. You obviously don’t have the device itself to check, but you may still be able to pull that information up. Here’s how to find your iPad’s serial number:

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  • If you have your product’s original packaging, you can check the barcode to find the serial number.
  • You can get the serial number from the Devices tab in iTunes preferences.
  • You can find your iPad’s serial number in your Apple ID account page (appleid.apple.com) under the Devices section.
  • You can also find your product’s serial number on the original product receipt or invoice.

As we said before, do not attempt to recover the lost iPad by yourself, even if the police are not prepared to go to the address the Find My app is suggesting.

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