How to Find a Stolen iPad

Mobile devices like iPads can be very compelling targets for thieves, since they are small, portable and easy to hide. Apple's free iCloud service provides you with a location tool that can help you pinpoint the location of your iPad, lock it, and receive live status updates about your stolen device. These features can only be switched off with the owner's Apple ID and password, preventing thieves from deactivating these security features.

Burglar looking at tablet pc through kitchen door
Fight back against iPad thieves by locking and tracking your device.
credit: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

Current Location Map

Despite the tool's name, you can use Find My iPhone to also track your Apple iPad and Mac computer. To locate your iPad's current location, visit the iCloud website (link in Resources) and log in with your account credentials. Click on the "Find My iPhone" icon and select your iPad from the "All Devices" drop down menu. If your iPad can be located with Wi-Fi or cellular data, its current location is displayed as a green dot on a map.

Lost Mode

Once you locate your iPad, you can place the device in Lost Mode, which locks the iPad with a four-digit passcode, preventing criminals from accessing your personal data. Lost Mode also sends you email updates when your device location changes, and it displays a custom lock screen message with information on how to contact the owner. You can enable Lost Mode by clicking on your iPad's location on the iCloud map and selecting "Lost Mode."

Live Notifications

If your iPad is switched off or disconnected from cellular data or Wi-Fi, then you can opt to receive notifications once the device is located. Choose "iPad" from the "Add Devices" drop-down menu, then check off "Notify me when found." Once your iPad connects to a Wi-Fi or cellular network, you will receive an email with its current location.

Serial Numbers

ICloud's Find My iPhone online system is not the only way to recover a lost iPad. You should report the missing device to the authorities and provide them with your iPad's serial number. You can locate the serial number on your iPad's original packaging, on the purchase receipt or from your iTunes backup. The unique serial number of an iPad can help authorities match a device to the owner when it is recovered.