Have You Ever Lost Your Phone And Got It Back?

Have You Ever Lost Your Phone And Got It Back?

We’ve featured lots of ways to find your lost or stolen phone, but we’re wondering how many of you have actually gotten your phone back after losing it.

Photo: RBerteig.

A recent experiment by Symantec purposely “lost” 50 smartphones in cities around the US. Symantec found that only 50 per cent of those smartphones ever had a chance at being returned, and even 96 per cent of them were accessed by their finders — in more privacy-breaking ways than one:

This may have started as an attempt to discover the owner of the phone, but our research shows that the finders of these devices had what can graciously be called a curiosity about more than the name of the owner. Case in point:

  • Six out of 10 finders attempted to view social media information and email.
  • Eight out of 10 finders tried to access corporate information, including files clearly marked as “HR Salaries”, “HR Cases” and other types of corporate information.

If you are in any way associated with securing a company’s valuable information, those are pretty striking numbers. However, it is not just business-related information that is at risk and a cause for legitimate concern. Our “honey stick” smartphones also had an application that appeared to allow access to a remote computer or network. Surely, people wouldn’t go that far. Well, one out of every two finders tried to run the “Remote Admin” app.

Apart from being yet another warning to lock your device, this study piqued our curiosity. I’ve never lost my phone, but I’ve returned two or three that I found on the street. We’re wondering: have you ever lost your phone, and if so, did you ever get it back? Tell us your tales of success (or woe) in the comments. And hit the link to read more about the study and Symantec’s recommendations for protecting your data.

Introducing the Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project [Symantec Blog via CNET]


  • I left mine in a change-room once but realised after about 5 minutes and went back and got it. Other than that, I’ve been really good and really lucky!

  • I passed out on a bridge when I much younger. Woke up at home phoneless. A retired gentleman (read: old guy) had picked it up and found a wonderful number in it called ‘HOME’ and rang it. This was of course before people locked their phones. Since then I’ve been pretty lucky.

  • I lost my new iPhone 3G (When the 3G was new) It had a SIM Lock on it. My background on the lock screen was along the lines of “If found please return to…..” I received it in an express post envelope the next day with a cool pen from a PVC Pipe and Fittings supply company and no return address. The 3G no longer works, but the pen still does!

  • Lost a blackberry, it fell out of its pouch at a train station. Two young guys found it, tried to unlock it, but couldn’t. They emailed the contact address on the lock screen, and I went and picked it up. gave them $50 for contacting us. Phone wasn’t new but had work data on it so was very glad not to have security breach.

  • I lost my phone once at a birthday party. I had left it on the table along with my car keys. At the end of the night i stayed back to help with the cleaning, only to return to my table to find it..well..cleaned and packed away. I started panicking but felt reassured that a family member would have collected it. I asked around and the birthday girl for the phone but no one had seen it or noticed it. I was certain someone stole and i was fuming. I had just bought mobile me at the time for a special price of $60 and had setup find my phone on it through its account setting so i borrowed another phone to log in and track it. Surely enough the phone rang..and rang.. and now i could actually see it, in the same building i was in.. but it started to move! So.. i started running in its direction. I was out and about in the streets following this little dot trying to pin point where it was. The location stopped in the car park of the building. I made my way to the car park of the building and then set off it’s alarm to hear it. Surely enough, i could hear my phone beeping..from one of the 7 rubbish bins lined up against the wall.. So i pinpointed the one my phone was in, tipped the bin, and got my phone AND keys back! covered in cake and beer, but hey, got them back right?

  • My phone got knocked out of my pocket at Central station about 3 years ago – I thought it had fallen down the gap between the train exit and the platform to be lost and destroyed, but I emailed the station’s lost and f ound just in case. It had actually been found and handed in. I got it back in one piece, totally none the worse for wear.
    It wasn’t a valuable phone, though – just an old “Call and text only” dumb phone. No sensitive work information in it or anything like that.

  • I haven’t lost my own but I’m sometimes involved in recovering them:

    -An old Nokia returned by the nice staff at pizza hut when they found it under a table
    -A blackberry that was left on the roof of a car when somebody drove off. it was found a few hours later in several pieces after being run over, but we managed to get it working. (addition to the story: while we were looking for it, we found TWO OTHER PHONES)
    -One lost and two stolen iphones via ‘find my iphone’. There were two more we didn’t get back because we didn’t get an accurate enough gps reading, so I settled for locking and wiping them from afar.

  • Left my phone in a taxi I caught from Sydney airport to my house. I realised the next day, rang it over and over until the driver answered.

    He drove half way across Sydney to return it. I gave him $50 for his trouble.

  • Left my (then new) iPhone 4 in the back of a cab after only having it for three weeks. Woke up at a mates the next day, panicked, remote locked it and tracked it down to a police station on the other side of the city. I was lucky enough to have the cab driver drop it off there when another passenger had found it.

  • I’ve lost my phone twice. Once I left it at my chiropractor’s office – but only retrieved it when I asked if I’d left it there. Second time it must have dropped out of my pocket at the local car wash. Like Awnshegh above, the person who found it dialled “Home” and I got it back the same day. I’ve found one phone near my work, went through the numbers and found one called “Dad”, so I sent a text to the number, telling them they could pick up the phone at my work’s security office. I figure what goes around comes around and handing up stuff you’ve found builds Karma points for when the same happens to you!

  • My old Nokia fell out of my pocket when I got knocked down in a moshpit at Homebake in 2005. It was old so I had written it off when I got a phone call from a friend to tell me that she had got a phone call from the security office to say that it had been found during the cleanup. They had dialled the last called number to try and track me down! It no longer had a back or front cover, but powered through another 12 months.

  • don’t fuckin pinch my phone…
    …heres why

    one friday night out on the town i stupidly took my phone on the off chance id use it.
    Well i actually did but thats beside the point.
    Somehow during the night it leapt out of my shirt pocket of its own accord and ended up i know not where, i did notice it was missing whilst still in the pub but had no recollection of having left it anywhere but in my pocket.
    Next day, wake up, no phone, fuck!
    Spent the day ringing my own number to no avail. Rings out, switched off or in use. Have no idea what all that means.
    Same thing again on the Sunday, except its permanently switched off.
    Lets get to Monday.
    Give the phone company a call to get some info and also get a block put on the number.
    Some idiot on the other end lets me know that there has been many sms’ and calls originating from my phone to only one number, i write this number down and proceed to the police station to see what can be done.
    The kind lady officer behind the counter gives this one number a call.
    No such number.
    Damn, better go back and give those phone company idiots a call.
    Damn good idea as i find out that there has indeed been many sms’ and calls originating from my number but not to only one number, but many and varied numbers.
    I am able to get these numbers from the phone company guy and actually get the time and duration of the calls.
    I then check all these numbers with the address book on my computer (which is synced with the phone book on the phone)
    none of these numbers are any that i know.
    I noticed that one number was called a couple of times for duration long enough for a conversation and realize the person they have called obviously knows the caller with my phone.
    I then call this number myself and discover it is the mother of a 19 year old girl from another town that had actually spent the weekend in my town.
    After a quick polite conversation with said girls mother she kindly gives me her daughters actual phone number (which would be quite an achievement under other circumstances)
    i then call this 19 yo girl and very politely point out to her that i am the guy who’s phone she has been running out of credit all weekend.
    Thats cool because its my stupid fault for losing my phone, but having said that its also her responsibility to hand the lost item in at her earliest convenience, especially after she leaves the pub and leaves me no chance of finding this item or any chance of an honest person handing it in instead.
    After some poor excuses such as “i kind of remember having a phone” & “im not sure where it is but ill have a look” i let her know ill call her the next day after she has had time to find this phone.
    Anyway to cut a long story short which is already too long to be called short i call her the next day and indeed she has found this mysterious phone she “kind of remembers having” used for an entire weekend that was obviously not hers.
    Isn’t it handy to know people all over your state, because i then sent a friend in that town around to this girls house and retrieved my bloody phone from her clutches.
    This has to be a lesson to this silly young girl who is probably sitting home wondering how the fuck did this guy find out i had his phone !
    And also a lesson to me on what not to do if i want to pinch a damn phone.

  • I’ve lost two phones (not counting the one pinched when I was mugged).

    Phone #1, PPC 6700, early Windows smartphone. Left in cab. Never seen again despite being reported to lost and found and rung many times.

    Phone #2, LG flipphone of the ver non-smart variety. Fell out of pocket at edge of park in Queensland. Went back to park an hour later when I realized it. No phone. A couple hours later, taxi company who’d dropped me off called me: “Did you lose something today?” Apparently it did fall out on the ground outside the cab, and the driver who’d stopped for a smoko there saw it and picked it up, and took it back to the office. I gave her $10 for her trouble.

  • Before posting a simplified story please be sure to include all relevant facts. As stated the test was done in “cities around the US”. This however is untrue as 20% of the phones were dropped in Ottawa, Canada, and when looking at in depth coverage of this story 70% of those phones lost in Ottawa were returned( the highest return rate). Since this story is geographically specific it would make sense to differentiate how different countries have different results in the test.

  • I lost my iPhone 4 in the back of a taxi when it slipped out of my pants pocket after a night out.

    I got it back a few days later after it was turned into a police station by the driver. The police used the “In Case of Emergency” number to contact my Parents.
    The funniest part was that the last message i received was from a friend who messaged me to say how ‘illegally intoxicated (not low)’ they were the night before and it was displayed on my home screen for the entire force to see.

    The officer seemed more concerned with my Pokeball skin, and I wrote the web address down for him. I could tell by the smirk he definitely saw the message though.

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