The Find My iPhone app is a great tool for locating a lost or stolen iPhone, but what good will it do you if a thief just turns the feature off? If your iPhone can't relay its GPS location then you may never be able to recover it.
Before we go any further, please don't try to recover your stolen iPhone on your own without the assistance of law enforcement. It's just a bad idea and it could potentially be very dangerous.
The Find My iPhone app uses your iPhone's location services to relay its position to Apple's servers so that when your iPhone is lost or stolen, you can log into Apple's iCloud website to track down your iPhone, or you can also track it with the Find My iPhone app on another iDevice.
How do you prevent thieves from disabling your Find My iPhone app?
There is no foolproof way of ensuring that savvy thieves won't be able to turn off the Find My iPhone app. Your main goal is to make it very difficult for them to disable it, which will hopefully increase the amount of time that your iPhone has to relay its location, improving the odds of you finding it.
Turn on 'Restrictions' and lock changes to 'Location Services'
Normally, the iPhone's 'restrictions' settings are used for parental control purposes, but in this instance,, we want to use restrictions to prevent a thief from turning off the location services that Find My iPhone uses to relay its location. 'Restrictions' allows us to passcode protect the on/off switch for iPhone location services.
To prevent location services from being turned off, perform the following steps:
1. Tap on the 'Settings' app from your iPhone's home screen.
2. Tap on 'General' and then touch the 'Restrictions' setting.
3. If restrictions are not yet enabled, choose the 'Enable Restrictions' option and then create a 4-digit PIN code and confirm it.
4. Scroll down on the 'Restrictions' page until you reach the 'Privacy' section. Tap on 'Location Services'.
5. Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and touch the 'Find My iPhone' option. Ensure that it is turned 'ON' and that the 'Status Bar Indicator' is turned to the 'OFF' position. This will effectively put the phone in 'stealth mode' so that thieves won't see an icon telling them that their location is being tracked.
6. Close the 'Find My iPhone' settings page and scroll back up to the top of the 'Restrictions' > 'Location Services' page.
7. Touch the 'Don't Allow Changes' and ensure that a check mark appears next to it. The items in 'Restrictions' > 'Location Services' should now be greyed out (except for Find My iPhone which is not greyed out, even though its settings are locked).
8. Touch the 'Restrictions' button at the top left corner of the screen. You should now see a padlock icon next to 'Location Services' in the 'Restrictions' > 'Privacy' section of the configuration page, indicating that no changes to 'Location Services' are allowed (unless the correct PIN is entered).
To make your phone even harder for a thief to compromise, consider creating a stronger iPhone passcode by turning off the 'Simple Passcode' option (which enables a full keyboard for inputting a passcode instead of just allowing a 4-digit number).
The more time a thief has with your phone, the more likely they are to circumvent your security. The above measures will at least put up a few roadblocks for them, giving you some additional time to try to track down your iPhone.