What Happens If You Buy A Stolen MacBook (Can You Go Jail?)

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If you cannot afford a brand new MacBook that costs a thousand bucks (and more), you must be looking to buy a second-hand MacBook. But before going ahead, you should make sure that the second-hand laptop you are going to buy is not stolen. Why do you ask? Because buying stolen laptops can have serious consequences. 

Here’s what happens if you buy a stolen MacBook:

If you buy a stolen MacBook and you were not aware that it was stolen, you will have to return it to the real owner, and you won’t be charged, but you would lose your money. If you knew that the MacBook was stolen and you still bought it, you would be considered an accessory to the crime.

But how would you know that a MacBook is stolen and how can you avoid buying a stolen laptop? Keep reading to find out!

How Can You Tell If A Mac Is Stolen?

You can tell whether a MacBook is stolen or not by checking if the serial number on its back lid is the same as the one in About this Mac. Or contact Apple with its serial number to see if it was reported stolen. 

Additionally, try to enter its serial number on icloud.com/activationlock and check if the Activation Lock is disabled. If the serial number matches and the iCloud Activation Lock is disabled, it means that the MacBook is not stolen. 

If you buy a MacBook from a pawnshop, a random seller, or websites like eBay or Craigslist, the chances of you buying a stolen product are higher especially if the cost is too low. These sellers attract buyers by selling stolen MacBooks at meager prices. Of course, not all of them are stolen. But the probability of them being stolen devices is still there.

How To Check A Mac Is Not Stolen

  • Ask the seller for a purchase receipt from Apple and check the buyer’s name written on it. You can ask the person selling that MacBook for a copy of his driving license and compare the name to make sure he’s the original owner. 
  • If the serial number on your laptop is blatantly scratched, it might be stolen.
  • Contact your local law enforcement and check with them if there were any stolen MacBooks reported and whether your MacBook is one of them.

If it turns out that your MacBook is a stolen device, you will have to hand it in, and the police will find its original owner. However, if the original owner is not found and no one claims it, you will have the option to get it returned to you.

In any case, no one will return your money unless you sue the person who sold it to you and win the lawsuit. Keep reading to find out whether Apple tracks stolen serial numbers. 

Did you know that if your MacBook has any problems, you can get a replacement device from Apple? Find out whether these replacement devices are new or refurbished in our article.

How Can I Avoid Buying A Stolen Laptop?

Check the laptop serial number with Apple, ask the seller for the original purchase receipt, checking with online theft registries, local authorities, and by ensuring that the seller knows the firmware password People selling laptops at unreasonably low prices is a red flag for stolen products. 

Buying a stolen MacBook knowingly can result in you being charged with Possession of Stolen Goods, a misdemeanor act. But if you didn’t know about the MacBook being stolen, you will have to contact your local law enforcement and get it returned to the original owner. You won’t be prosecuted but you will lose money. 

Steps To Avoid Buying A Stolen Laptop

  • Enter the MacBook’s serial number on Apple’s website and check its AppleCare eligibility. This can help you compare the laptop’s serial number and the actual purchase date with what the seller claims it is. 
  • Do not fall for those “great prices” offered by auction sites. These low prices are too good to be true. So ask the seller why he is selling the laptop at such a low price.
  • Do not buy a locked MacBook.
  • Make sure that you check the MacBook’s serial number with online theft registries like powermax, stolen computers and similar other websites.
  • Test your MacBook before buying it and make sure that it is not locked when it’s connected to the internet. If the seller does not let you test the laptop, don’t buy it.

Following these tips would ensure that you do not end up getting a stolen laptop.

Is your MacBooks battery starting to slow down and your wondering if you should replace it? Find out if it’s worth it in our article.

Does Apple Track Stolen Serial Numbers?

According to Apple, Apple cannot track any stolen item using its serial number. Because serial numbers are meant for the identification of devices and not for tracking. If Find My Mac/iPhone was enabled on that MacBook/iPhone, it can be located. But if it wasn’t set up, you cannot locate it. 

According to Apple’s guide, the best thing you can do if your Apple product is stolen is to report it to the local law enforcement. You can also try giving the product’s serial number to those databases that store info about stolen devices. Whenever someone is buying a product that is stolen/lost, they will be notified. 

Other than that, contact Apple and ask the representative to create a note with your Apple account about the stolen device and its serial number. Whenever someone brings that device to an Apple Store for a repair and the employees enter its serial number, they will know that it is a stolen device.

To do this, you will have to request the Apple Support representative to make this note especially. Another thing that can seriously cost you hundreds of bucks other than losing your device is water damage. But there is a way you can get your device repaired from Apple for water damage at minimum costs. Read our article to find out.

Should You Use or Track Stolen Apple Devices?


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