Found Someone’s Locked iPhone? Here’s How to Return It

You too can be a Good Samaritan when finding a lost iPhone. Arriving at O’Hare to head home from a conference, I got out of my Uber and found an iPhone lying in a puddle by the curb. It was locked with no identification. Not wanting the owner to deal with lost and found, I googled ‘find owner of locked iPhone’ and stumbled on a site that recommended trying Siri, which works even if the phone is locked, and trying to call common places or people like home, office, husband, or wife.

After a few of these, I stumbled on what may have been his work tech support but hung up when they had a long wait time. I tried a few other commands and called some random people, none of whom answered. I told it to dial my own number so I had that as a point of reference. And then one of the owner’s friends, Al, called me back and said the owner’s name was Rob and Al would try to reach him.

I assumed correctly that Rob just got through security and was at the same terminal. He called me as I was about to put the phone away in my bag to go through the checkpoint, and we found a spot to meet. Sure enough, I couldn’t find him. So I told Siri to call back the last number, and it worked.

He was of course relieved. He insisted on slipping me cash. When I refused, he said, “It’s only $5. Have a coffee on me.” So I guess this whole Samaritan thing isn’t a get rich quick scheme. But at least there’s a little more good karma in the world for those of us who drop or leave our phones somewhere. To the cab driver who once found my lost phone in a bush while walking his dog, your debt is repaid.

Postscript: Jeffrey (“Geekazine”) Powers also noted you can look for someone’s Medical ID by hitting “emergency” on the passcode entry screen, though that does require the phone user to set it up. It’s a good thing to look for in an emergency.

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