Yin Yong woke up in the morning of his 32nd birthday in a good mood, thinking of the new iPhone he bought one day earlier as a birthday present to himself.
But then he realized that his apartment had been burglarized. Yin's bank cards, thousands of yuan in cash, an iPad and two iPhones, including the new one, were all gone. Devastated, Yin called the police, who came in and wrote a report of the crime.
"I thought there was no way I would get my iPhones back," said Yin, a Beijinger who works in the artistic handicraft business.
Then Yin found a post online that directed him to a shop on taobao.com, China's largest online retailer, that provided services in retrieving stolen iPhones, and his hopes were rekindled.
Gone but not forgotten
Yin contacted the shop, called I Lost Phone, one of dozens of its kind on Taobao, and bought two overall retrieval services for the price of 36 yuan ($5.78) per phone. That was only the beginning of the journey.
If you provide the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number of your stolen iPhone - which is printed on the box of a new iPhone and accessible via your iTunes account - the shop will give you an inquiry key, a website and an iPhone retrieval guideline.
Use the key on the website, and you'll get an ICCID (integrated circuit card identity) number, as well as the maintenance information of the phone.
"Having the ICCID is only a start," said I Lost Phone owner Kim Jung-wook, 20, from Shijingshan district.
The ICCID is linked to the SIM (subscriber identity module) card inside the cellphone, and the SIM card leads to the cell phone number of this phone. Therefore, with an ICCID you can get the cellphone number and maybe some personal information about the current user of your phone, who is either the thief or an innocent, second-hand buyer.
Next you have to contact the mobile service operator and use any tactic you can to get their attention - try to gain their sympathy or even take a policeman to go with you.
Then you report the information you have about the current user of the phone to the police and wait for them to solve the case, which all depends on your luck.
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