Airplane Mode- Phone Theft

2023 is a new year and a new festival season is just around the corner. So we are tackling one of our (Liff Happens) goals early, phone theft.

No, not conducting it because we all know there’s already plenty of it. One of our goals beyond a better lost and found is helping consumers avoid the other negative consequences of loss, such as theft. Phone theft, in particular, is on the rise at music events all across the country, so we’d like to put together some information to help you avoid it this year.

Airplane mode to prevent theft

What is Airplane Mode?

Airplane Mode is designed to turn off all the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular, and data connections on your mobile device, which might otherwise interfere with the various sensors and equipment on commercial airplanes. While needing to do this on a flight is still dubious, it’s a great feature to reduce battery drain.

Airplane Mode is commonly used at large music festivals and events with spotty cellular services, which leads to battery drain.

How do thieves use Airplane Mode against you?

Turning off the cellular and data connection is an ideal feature for pickpockets. It’s easily accessible from the lock screen and frequently does not require a password. After stealing a device, enabling Airplane Mode prevents calls and tracking on most phone models.

It severs all connections at a button click so phone calls and find my tracking stops–until they pop your sim card or place it in a signal-blocking bag.

At an event or location that may have a lot of phone theft, like music festivals, preventing this is an excellent idea.

How to use Airplane Mode against Phone Theft.

Note: this is only available for iPhone, there may be an Android option but… we’re iPhone users, and they’re the most targeted devices.

Using some of the Apple apps and settings, we can prevent Airplane Mode from being enabled and make it easier to locate your device. 

Automation on Airplane Mode
Here's the entire process... we'll break it down below.

1. Open Shortcuts (or download from the app store)

Shortcuts is an Apple app letting users set up automation and scripting on their devices and connected applications. This is a perfect tool for executing responses to actions taken on apps or settings.

We will use this to keep Airplane Mode on while maxing out the ringer volume to help locate the device by sound. So start by getting or opening the Shortcuts App.

Shortcuts from Apple

2. Create an Automation

Automations allow you to connect actions to other actions. At the bottom of the screen, select automation and then select Create Personal Automation.

Create Automation

3. Airplane Mode turned On

This will be the trigger starting the whole process. So search or scroll down to Airplane Mode and leave Is Turned On selected.

This means when you click to turn on Airplane Mode… something will happen.

Airplane on automation

4. Add Action to Automation

Now we’re going to add the Action when triggered. Click + Add Action and search Airplane Mode. Select Set Airplane Mode so we can enable it to stay on.

Add action to automation

5. Set Airplane Mode to 'Off'

Change On to Off

  1. So what happens is when Airplane Mode is Turned On (the trigger)
  2. The action is turning Airplane Mode Off
Airplane Mode Off

6. Set Volume to 100

Now we’re going to add a second action. Select the search bar and volume at the bottom of the screen. Select Set Volume and set it to 100%.

This will now set your ringer to 100% volume when trying to enable airplane mode, which will aid in locating the device when calling or pinging it.

Set Volume to 100

7. Enable Automation

Hit Next in the top right, toggle Ask Before Running to off (you want to avoid giving thieves a chance to opt out of it) and hit Done.

Then enable the automation when you’re headed to the event to turn it on.

That’s it! Once the automation is on, try it out. This will prevent thieves from turning airplane mode on and increase the volume, so when pinging on Find my iPhone, it should be easier to locate. 

Here at Liff Happens, we build software for the Lost and Found process. As a part of that, we’re trying to reduce the frustration and increase the success when stuff goes missing. Check out the rest of what we do at Good luck out there!