Found iPhone 4 with passcode - unlock possible?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by truthsmiles, May 14, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. truthsmiles macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009
    Okay, I know this question must exist somewhere, but I can't seem to come up with the right google query, so here goes....

    I'll start by saying I admit this is a totally unbelievable story, so feel free to come up with your own theories, but it's really true:

    I came home today to a lady picking up cans in the ditch in front of my house (I live outside of town and people litter on the way to/from the lake). I told her I had a bunch of cans she could have and had her come up to my house. I gave her probably $30 worth of cans, and then she pulls out what looked like an iPhone 4 or 4S and asks if its mine. She said she found it in my ditch and thought I might have dropped it. Well, it wasn't mine, but I guess since I was so nice with the cans, she just gave it to me. Seriously.

    So, I bring the phone in the house and plug it in, and even though it's been raining, it turns on! Problem is, the screen is locked, and short of a DFU restore, I don't know how to unlock it. I would love to be able to return the phone to its rightful owner (and yes, part of me is just curious to see if I can get into it). I know I could go the "easy" way and just take it to the Apple store or even AT&T, but if I could somehow "break in" or read some of the contact's phone numbers I might be able to figure out who it belongs to.

    I have no idea what OS is installed (although double-clicking the home button does NOT reveal the camera, so I'm guessing pre-5), and I believe trying to SSH with the wrong tool can destroy it.

    Is there any kind of tool I can use to get into the phone's filesystem and/or view the contents? Obviously if the files are encrypted it's hopeless, but if they aren't, maybe I'll have some luck.

    Sorry if this is a re-post, but all the other questions like this seem to be for people who have previously synced to their computers and can restore their last backup. This isn't my phone so I don't have any data except for what's on the phone itself.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. bpeeps macrumors 68020


    May 6, 2011
    I'm going to track this thread and come back later to read the amazing responses. Best of luck.
  3. cperchard macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2010
    Ok lets be honest blatantly want to keep why say that you wish you could turn it on so you can "phone someone in their contacts list".......if u were that good a person you would do what you suggested and take it back to apple store so they can possibly find who it's owner is. There would be no thread and that would be the end of bottom line is, u want to hack a phone that isn't yours for your own benefit :p
  4. ApplesAndOrangs macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2011
    Nope there is no tool. Return it to AT&T or face the consequences of karma.
  5. iJays macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2009
    this has a resemblance of someone trying to return an iPad on the iPad thread.
    being honest and trying to hack into the contact list so he can return the iPad.

    different story though :rolleyes:
    Way to get past passcode or get owner info?
  6. truthsmiles thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009
    If I wanted to keep it, I would just DFU restore it. After some more research I've just found out about Gecko, and I'm downloading the ipsw file as we speak. I'll let you know how it goes....
  7. Frosticus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2010
    Bristol, UK
    I call shenanigans/troll.

    But if not, the police will be able to trace the owner by the handset s/n or by the sim. It's not your job to try and hack into the phone to get contact details - nothing good will come of it.

    Just hand it in to the police fool.
  8. fullmanfullninj macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2009
    Wait wait wait...hold on.
    $30 worth of cans? Unless cans are worth like fifty cents in your state, that's like 600 cans...if she managed to leave with all those so easily, she must be a pro at collecting cans.

    Honestly, there's no good way to do this. Hand it to the police, they're not going to decode it and find the rightful owner for you. Neither will Apple and ATT - that is, if you're so desperate to get it back to the original owner.

    If this lady really did find it in a ditch near your house, why not put up posters/ads like they do for missing/found dogs/cats. This isn't exactly a 20 dollar bill that can fly over to your's a 4.8oz piece of metal and glass...not too prone to fly away. Just put up pictures of the device (with the wallpaper or something), and if it truly does belong to someone, have them unlock the device in front of you.

    Now that's going off the premise that you really are a nice guy and want to get this phone back to its original owner, like you say.

    In terms of software/getting into the phone, I will not help you there. This lady said she found it near your place. Because phones are not exactly the most aerodynamic, it would be reasonable to guess that the true owner of the phone is around your neighborhood. There is no reason to talk about software/getting into the phone to find the contacts.

    If the owner was truly very concerned about it, they would call the device...or others would call it...or something. Pick up and ask about the device. There are plenty of ways to get this phone back to its original owner, given the "really true" story you have given us.

    If you really are the nice guy you say you are and want to return this phone to its owner, you'll be patient and wait for people to call the phone or put up posters and wait for a response.

    Best of luck returning this device to its owner.

    Well I just saw your previous posts here circa October 2011 that you got a 4S. How about you pop the SIM out of this phone (since you say it's ATT) and pop it into your device and call yourself or something...that way you'll have a number and ATT/whomever might be more inclined to least you might get a name.

    Actually, put it in any device, honestly. Any past phone you've had...or any phone that uses a SIM card that you or your friends might have. Using a phone number as a point of reference to get a name is much easier than trying to bypass the passcode. Just saying.
  9. androiphone macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    if you take it to the police stations lost and found and no-one comes forward and collects it then after a specified amount of time it becomes yours, so I personally would just do that,
    I don't know how it works in the US but the networks and apple if you take it to them probably won't do much to find the owner so the local police would be the best bet.

    that way you have done the right thing, and if someone comes knocking saying 'I think I may have lost my iPhone did you find it?' you can just say 'yes I did I've handed it in at the police stations lost and found'
  10. tiptopp macrumors regular


    Aug 15, 2008
    Norwich, UK
    Use voice control

    Hold the home button until Voice Control appears. Then 'Call home', 'Call work', 'Call mum', etc. until it responds. Talk to whoever answers and find out whose phone it is.

    I prefer to give benefit of doubt in these cases, as it's simply too easy to restore and keep it if that's what you wanted to do, and these sors of posts always invite abuse and disbelief. I have to say, though, that I'm surprised that the owner hasn't called it or sent it a message to retrieve it - I certainly did when I lost a phone a few years back, and I got it back the next day.

  11. truthsmiles thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009
    Gecko worked

    So I know this is likely to be brushed off by some as not true, but after several hours of screwing around I did in fact get the passcode. It was 1216.

    After reading a bunch of forums I almost thought it wasn't possible, but it is (I don't think it is with the 4S, but it looks like most other phones can be cracked). Like I said earlier, I downloaded Gecko iPhone Toolkit (yes, I had to bust out the Windows machine since it's an .exe).

    If you're curious, there is a decent article about it here:

    It wasn't as straightforward as the article leads one to believe. I'm not a hacker or anything, so I was nearly stumped when the "Unexpected Parameter" message about i4ramdisk.dmg came up. However, another article ( helped me out with that issue.

    If you follow the instructions exactly, it totally works. Side note: I did find that DFU mode was really hard to get into until I watched this:

    Like I said, I'm not some big-time programmer or anything, but it looks like what it does is put the phone into some kind of mode where Gecko can attempt to change the password repeatedly without any of delay rules normally imposed by the OS. Once it hits the correct password it just shows it to you.

    The only piece of "new" knowledge I have to contribute is this: There were no instructions anywhere I found on how to "escape" the DFU/Redsn0w/Gecko mode once it got the passcode, so I just held my breath and unplugged it, and held down the power and home buttons until I saw the apple. I released the apple and it booted up to the passcode screen. 1-2-1-6 and *click*. Woo-hoo!

    Although I still don't know exactly who owns the phone (I looked at a couple emails, but I really don't want to snoop any more than I need to), but I can see who's been calling him, so when it gets to a reasonable hour, I'll start calling them and see if I can get a name and address and drop it in the mail.

    Yes, I admit, it was an extraordinary effort to help out this random dude, but it's been very educational and a good lesson for me: I'm going to put an "If found" message on my lock screen in case I ever lose my phone and the person finding it is nice enough to return it.

    Other lesson learned: Nothing is private!

    PS. Yes I know my story is crazy. I can't imagine how a phone ended up in my ditch unless it was thrown there (or perhaps stolen by someone and tossed there). Also, I have no idea why the lady who found the phone would give it to me for some cans. She didn't seem "savvy" if you catch my drift, and maybe she didn't know what it was worth. I swear, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! Haha. Welp, I've spent far too much time on this endeavor and now I have to run... I would say "thanks", but none of you really helped me :p


    PPS - To those of you saying to take it to the police: call me crazy but part of me simply doesn't trust that the police or even ATT or Apple will REALLY try to find the owner. And, yes, I totally admit that I contemplated keeping it, but I just started thinking about whoever lost it, and I realized if I were in his shoes I would really want my phone back. They're expensive!
  12. gadgetmonster macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2011
    take it to the police or bring it either to an apple, at&t, or verizon store and they can get it back to the owner.
  13. conartist4u macrumors regular


    May 4, 2012
    Lima Peru
    you can recover password easily if it's an iPhone 4. the bands on the iPhone 4 are different from the 4s. there's no joint on the top of the phone near the jack in a 4s. it's on the left side above volume button.

    use Gecko Tool to recover password. it's not legal if you dont own the phone
  14. DroidRules macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2010
    What he said. Keep us up to date on your "search" for the owner.
  15. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    If all you wanted to do was get it back to the owner then you would not have tried to get the passcode.
  16. Frosticus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2010
    Bristol, UK
    What he said.

    I'm fairly certain doing this on a phone which does not belong to you constitutes a crime (at least it does under English law)... Although I'm sure the rightful owner will be glad to get their phone back (assuming that they do), I doubt they will be too pleased with your methods or the invasion of their privacy.

    Next time, just take it to the police instead of "not trusting them" and wanting to satisfy your own "curiosity" as this does not display that you were taking appropriate steps to return the property to the rightful owner. Indeed, the police would probably also take a dim view of your activity if they came knocking on your door looking for the phone.
  17. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    So you took a phone from an old lady which is worth 2 months wages to a street can collector.

    If there really is a god, this is your test my friend

    lol :)
  18. Troneas macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2011
    At the alternatives section.
    its not up to you to hack into someones personal information to return the phone.

    as other people have suggested take it to the police, apple or the carrier.
  19. greytmom macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2010
    Oh, I would say you've snooped so much at this point, looking at the emails isn't really going to make it any worse.

    I can promise you that if someone called me and said, "Hi, I found this person's phone and would like you to give me his/her name and address so I can mail the phone back" I would NOT give you the person's address. Instead, I would have the owner of the phone and three of his biggest, meanest friends meet you in a public place to get the phone back.

    That's if I believed the whole story in the first place, which I don't.
  20. stu.h macrumors 65816


    May 8, 2010
    West Midlands, England.
  21. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I can see both ways. IF the phone was unlocked then you called a couple numbers then that's ok. However breaking passed the pass code is sketchy. I wouldn't want someone doing that to my phone because I have sensitive (to me) information on the device I wouldn't want seen. Even if you were the most honest person in the world I would still feel an invasion of my privacy.
  22. knimetimmy macrumors member

    May 17, 2009
    Put into DFU mode and hit restore in itunes.
    good to go
  23. LIVEFRMNYC, May 14, 2012
    Last edited: May 14, 2012

    LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    Hand it to the police = nobody claims it, police officer's kid or grand kid gets an early Christmas.

    If the person didn't activate and use the "find my iphone" service by now, then that's their own stupidity. They could have easily sent a popup to the phone with their contact info.

    And this is why many people don't return stuff. Too many people have bad attitudes instead of being grateful.

    I once found a phone(not an iPhone). And called a contact labeled "mom". Gave her my google voice number for the owner to contact me. Well the owner contacted me and she had a pretty bad attitude about the whole thing as if I owed her something and expected me to stop in my tracks and make returning her phone first priority. Long story short, she didn't get the phone back. After a couple days the service was cancelled and it made for a pretty decent alarm clock. And I'm a nice guy, I would have went out of my way to return it if her attitude wasn't so stinky.
  24. faded.memories macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2011
    I used to run an arcade and we found several phones over the years.

    I'd ALWAYS snoop through the contact list and look for 'home', 'mom' etc and or call back the last couple numbers in the recents with names attached and tell them I found this phone.

    Nobody ever complained and usually the owner would show up shortly to happily retrieve their phone.

    I also found a phone at Wal-mart once, called the contact for 'mom' and told her I would be leaving the phone at the customer service desk.

    No biggie.

    And if the OP just wanted to claim the phone it would be easy to reset the thing and just restore it.
  25. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    I lost my phone and the person that found it just searched it for 'Home' and called that number. I thought that it was gone forever. I even gave the guy a $50 for being honest and trying to return it.

    Search for 'home' or 'ICOE' or 'ICE' which mean 'in case of emergency'.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page