Apple has finally created a simple way to help you avoid purchasing a stolen iPhone or iPad. ICloud.com has been updated to include an Activation Lock tool, that will let you know if an iPhone or iPad has been locked due to theft.
To find out if an iDevice has been locked by its owner, all you need is the IMEI or serial number of the device, which can be found in Settings > General > About. Once you enter the number, Apple will tell you if the activation lock is on or off on the device.
Buying iPhones or iPads on sites like Craigslist can be a sketchy proposition, but this tool should help ease some of the worry about shelling out hundreds of dollars for a stolen device that may not even work. And if you’re on the other end of this (i.e., yours is the iPhone that’s stolen), it’s nice to know that the thief won’t be able to pawn it off as easily.
Activation Lock prevents anyone from resetting an iOS device without putting in the proper Apple ID and password. As soon as you turn on Find My iPhone, Activation Lock is automatically enabled. To turn Find my iPhone on or off (which you should do before you sell your iOS device), go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone.