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Can Someone Use Stolen AirPods?

Thanks to their unmistakable design and higher-than-average price tag, Apple AirPods have become a bit of a status symbol in the modern world. Convenience and reliability aside, it’s these qualities that make AirPods arguably the most popular wireless earbuds on the market. 

Unfortunately, said qualities also make them a prime target for thieves. Misplaced AirPods get snatched within seconds, so if you’ve accidentally left your AirPods unattended, they’re pretty much gone already.

But this begs the question: can someone use stolen AirPods? If so, is there a way to prevent them from being used when lost? 

Can Someone Use Stolen AirPods?

Unfortunately, there’s no stopping anyone from using stolen AirPods

Unlike iPhones, AirPods don’t have a dedicated “lock” function that’s fingerprint or password-protected. And since AirPods don’t connect to Wi-Fi or nearby internet sources, you can’t remotely control or lock them. 

AirPods are extremely easy to reset, so if they were picked up by someone else, they can simply hold the Setup button in the middle of the charging case to disconnect them from their original owner. 

Once disconnected, the original owner will no longer be able to track the AirPods.

Read more: Should I get headphones or AirPods? 

Can Someone Use Stolen AirPods Without the Charging Case? 

Yes, people can use stolen AirPods that don’t come with the charging case. 

Many people don’t realize that AirPods work with any charging case, as long as they’re compatible. Someone can simply insert the stolen AirPods into a different charging case and they’ll be bound to that case instead.

I know—I felt pretty gutted when I realized that, too. $200, down the drain, just like that. There’s a lesson to be learned here, folks: don’t leave your AirPods unattended! 

What Should You Do When You Lose Your AirPods?

If you’ve lost your AirPods, don’t give up hope just yet. As long as your AirPods are paired to your device, you can still locate them. 

Here’s what you should do when you lose your AirPods: 

  1. As soon as you realize your AirPods are lost, open your Find My app and go to the Device tab. Act quickly—no second should be spared!
  2. On the Device tag, you’ll find a list of recently connected Apple devices. 
  3. Tap the AirPods you’re trying to find to see its last known location on the map. 
  4. Go to the provided location with the help of the Directions tab. Your AirPods might still be in the area you’ve left them if you’re lucky! 
  5. If you’ve lost your AirPods with its charging case and you believe it’s nearby, tap on Play Sound. A beeping sound will play, allowing you to locate the AirPods.

What Should You Do When You Lose Your AirPods Charging Case? 

Read more: Are AirPods good quality?

Sadly, there’s no way to track a charging case if you’ve lost it

The charging case is simply that; it doesn’t have a built-in GPS like the AirPods themselves. 

All you can do is retrace your steps and pray that it’s still in the same place you’ve left it. If you have your name/contact info on the case, hope a kind stranger will return it to you. 

Luckily, the AirPods charging case isn’t as expensive as the AirPods themselves. You can easily get a replacement from an Apple store for $50 to $100, depending on the model. 

Can You Locate Your AirPods With iCloud? 

If you can’t use the Find My app on your iPhone, you can locate your AirPods on the iCloud website. Here’s how: 

  1. Go to iCloud and log in to your Apple account from your computer. Make sure you’re using the account linked to your AirPods
  2. Go to the Find My iPhone tab and select All Devices. The GPS will take a few seconds to locate all available devices connected to your account. 
  3. If your AirPods are still connected, you’ll find them pinpointed on the map with a green dot (green means online, gray means offline). 
  4. Click on the green dot and start locating your AirPods. If available, click on Play Sound to trigger a loud noise from the device, assuming they’re nearby.  

Does AppleCare Cover Stolen AirPods? 

In a different reality, perhaps, but not in this one. 

Both AppleCare and AppleCare+ don’t cover stolen AirPods. These services only cover hardware repair, technical support, and two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months. 

However, Apple does give its users the option to buy separate AirPods and charging cases so you don’t have to buy a whole new set. 

Conclusion

If you’ve lost your AirPods, there’s little you can do to stop someone from using them. AirPods don’t have a built-in anti-theft system like other Apple devices, so you can’t lock or freeze the AirPods.

Here’s the good news: AirPods can be tracked, as long as they’re within range and still connected to your phone. Simply access your Find My app and locate your AirPods on the map.