Man Claims Apple Investigators Pretended To Be SF Police In Searching For Lost iPhone Prototype [Updated: Or Not]

from the the-iPolice dept

Update: Please read the update at the bottom of the story.

Earlier this week, News.com broke a story of yet another Apple employee losing an iPhone prototype in a bar (stop me if you've heard this one before...). Unlike the last one, this one (as far as we know) did not get sold to some tech website for a few thousand dollars. However, reports are emerging that raise some serious questions about how Apple went about trying to retrieve the phone.

A man in San Francisco, Sergio Calderon, claims that six people showed up at his door claiming to be San Francisco Police Department officers, and that they had badges. They claimed they were looking for a lost phone, but didn't say it was a prototype. The original News.com report had said that police together with Apple investigators went to the guy's house -- but the SFPD says they have no record of SFPD being involved in any such action (which it should have if they were involved). The guy whose house was searched says that no one identified themselves as being from Apple. They also threatened him and his family over their immigration status (even though he says they're all legal). Either way, he was nervous and let them search his house (a mistake) and even check out his computer. They didn't find anything.

The guy who was "leading" the search gave Calderon his phone number, and that number apparently belonged to Anthony Colon, a former San Jose police sergeant, who recently went to work for Apple. After the SF Weekly story about this came out, Colon suddenly deleted his LinkedIn page, but lots of folks have screenshots. The SFPD is apparently concerned about this, and says that if Calderon comes to them, they'll investigate whether or not Apple impersonated SFPD officers, which is a crime that is punishable with up to a year in jail. If the claims of Calderon prove true, this could become a pretty big headache for Apple, perhaps bigger than merely having an employee lose a prototype.

Update: Well this is getting weirder. The same SF Police spokesperson who earlier denied SFPD presence now says that the SFPD did, in fact, "assist" Apple with its internal investigation.
Contradicting past statements that no records exist of police involvement in the search for the lost prototype, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield now tells SF Weekly that "three or four" SFPD officers accompanied two Apple security officials in an unusual search of a Bernal Heights man's home.

Dangerfield says that, after conferring with Apple and the captain of the Ingleside police station, he has learned that plainclothes SFPD officers went with private Apple detectives to the home of Sergio Calderon, a 22-year-old resident of Bernal Heights. According to Dangerfield, the officers "did not go inside the house," but stood outside while the Apple employees scoured Calderon's home, car, and computer files for any trace of the lost iPhone 5. The phone was not found, and Calderon denies that he ever possessed it.
Of course, this raises other questions about the proper role of the police. If it was a police investigation, then police should have done the search. If it was a private search, then the police should not have been present implying that it was a police search. The latest details certainly makes it sound like these police freelanced, suggested to Calderon that this was a police operation... and then never filed the proper paperwork about the whole thing.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Now I've been following this on SFWeekly all day, and theres a lot of misinformation floating around.... I really hope he files a formal complaint against this Tony dude, but we really won't know whats happened until that happens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    LOL

    His last name is Colon... wow, that must have sucked as a kid.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    It's an interesting twist from the usual where the police impersonate apple investigators to get Apple their phones back.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Re: LOL

    America was once run by Bush, Dick and Colon. Insert your own jokes here.

     

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    MrWilson, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    Re: LOL

    You know who else's last name was Colon? Christopher Columbus, at least in Spanish. Maybe that shows how much they thought of him... :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: LOL

    Well you saw how Dick had its way with Bush, imagine what Dick would have done to Colon

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Impersonation

    Sheesh. Jobs is gone less than a week and the wheels are already starting to fall off the bus over at Apple…

    Why doesn’t this sort of thing ever happen to me? I’d love to see the faces on these goons when they flash their fake badges and I show them my shiny real one. I’m sure their reaction would be priceless.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    Re: LOL

    I find it amusing how the Colon guy asked the Calderon guy if he was legal. If I would've been Calderon I would've reply: are you?

     

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    Old Man in the sea, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    Up here in Australia, we had this kind of problem in the 70's. Crooks would go around impersonating officials of all kinds to get access to houses and buildings for nefarious purposes.

    At both state and federal level, legislation was introduced to require authorised officials to carrier photo id on them that on request could be examined. A badge or uniform was just not enough. Though it usually will do.

    I still recall my mother getting a call from the local cop shop (which incidentally was across the road from where she worked) that a number of police uniforms had been stolen from a town about 4 hours away and that if any police officers came in she was to know that they were NOT police officers and that for her own safety do whatever she was told. The local station would keep an eye on her till she closed up.

    Having had some interesting discussions over the years, the theft of uniforms and badges is more common than the vast majority of people realise. Though I must say, various procedures have been put in place (from what I understand) in the various police forces around the country to mitigate this.

    Here we can respectfully asked to see the officials photo id and they have to present it, otherwise we can then call 000 and report the matter immediately as they will be impersonating someone they are not. If they actually are an official this is a serious administrative problem for them.

    Maybe, this kind of thing is needed down there in your country.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Impersonation

    The wheels have been falling off for a while now... at least a few years. Jobs and the name simply had more talent in hiding it.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    Re: LOL

    Uh yeah... the accent is in the last O, so it doesn't sound like "Colon" in english.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 3:20pm

    Re: LOL

    It's actually the real surname of Christopher Columbus. Colon even has a long weekend holiday named after him. You know it as Colon Day, October 10.

    District of Colon
    Colonialism, Colony
    Space Shuttle Colon
    Ivy League College, Colon
    Colon River
    Colon sportswear.

    All in all, highly respected.

    ...not that it would help as a kid on the playground.

     

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    Grey Ferret, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    "Up here in Australia", "down there in your country"

    Who are you talking to, Antarctica? Or is this one of those up is really down and toilets flush backwards sort of things?

     

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    Hoeppner, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    Re: LOL

    Normally it gets pronounced cologne.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:40pm

    Hmmm. I'll have to closely watch how this story develops. It contains two of my favorite things to hate: evil corporations and corrupt cops.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Re: Impersonation

    Yeah, it helps when people notice that your market cap had exceeded Exxon-- even for a brief time.

     

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    Andrew (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    Lets see how it turns out

    I don't support Apple generally. I don't quite like their closed minded ways they have their software and have lived fine without their tech.

    However I am troubled by this story for a few reasons:

    1. If apple did cross this line then what else have they crossed? It's quite possible lots of coverups happened

    2. Its strange for apple to cross the line like this (I know its contradicting above but hear me out). They may be extremely closed and have even come close to crossing the line. However so far nothing has shown that apple will blatently cross the line.

    3. Lets face it people embezzle stories to get better press. I am not calling anyone a liar but its just human nature.

    So before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of accusing apple lets see how this turns out. I may dislike Apple for how they operate but i can't believe they will go down this illegal route.

     

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    DinDaddy (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    Some may have been police

    Reports that the 4 who remained outside were, in fact, SFPD:

    http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/09/iphone_5_apple_police.php

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Updated

    Just updated the post with new details. Read the update. Apparently police did take part, but it's still pretty questionable.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 5:36pm

    They probably were cops that knocked on that guy's door, they were likely on Apple's payroll when they flashed the badges.

     

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    elitedefinition (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 5:44pm

    lol

    When you have 72 billion in the bank, that can always help people remember if their police dept was there or not.

     

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    acruxksa, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 5:53pm

    Pretty much par for the course.

    Apple treated Mr. Calderon exactly how they treat consumers. aka, Steve Jobs and by extension Apple is always right, they do whatever they want and we don't know what's best for ourselves.

    To summerize, apple treats consumers like mushrooms.

    Keep them in the dark and feed them sh!t.

    Business as usual and they'll probably get away with it because Kali and SF are bankrupt and need their tax proceeds.

     

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    Pixelation, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    Re: LOL

    "His last name is Colon... wow, that must have sucked as a kid."

    That must have been the shits.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    There are no good* reasons that north must be considered up.

    *I don't consider tradition or "because modern mapmakers happened to be European" as good reasons.

     

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    Montezuma (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    We already have such a protection, and it is titled the "Second Amendment". If someone is impersonating a law enforcement officer, it is a firearm to the face(not necessarily discharging the firearm, perhaps just pointing said firearm). If a police officer is attempting to effect an illegal arrest, same deal.

    Really, one is free to use force to protect themselves, in certain circumstances. The caveat to that is that is must be the minimum amount of force necessary to stop the aggressive, illegal action. So, is issuing a command to stop will stop the illegal action, then that is the maximum amount of force allowed. If it takes more, then more is available.

    As to the Apple "detectives", this kind of mess would not occur in my state(Georgia). These "detectives" would have been ordered to leave, immediately. If they failed to, that would be criminal trespass, which is a crime(obviously). As such, it would have allowed a "citizen's arrest". Any officer's on-scene would have been in serious trouble.

    Search warrants and arrest warrants can only be executed by law enforcement, in my state. If no such warrant exists(which it seems as if there was no warrant), then the officers would have been guilty of criminal trespass, too. That is a serious violation.

    Given the facts of the situation, I could probably bring a Title 18 USC, Section 242 complaint against any sworn officers, on scene.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 6:39pm

    Re: lol

    See that's what I got from the update

     

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  27.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 7:35pm

    Off-Topic, How Not to Lose Your Small Valuable Device.

    This is the second time Apple has lost a prototype, in both cases by losing it in a tavern. Back before watches were strapped on wrists, they went in special pockets, either in the trousers, or in a vest. As late as the 1970's, when I bought trousers (work pants), they still had a little pocket in front, next to the belt buckle, where you weren't likely to sit on it, or bump it against something. A pocket watch had a little metal loop to take a chain, the other end of which hooked into a buttonhole in the vest, or wherever.

    Presumably, it wouldn't be a big deal for Apple to fit Iphones with a suitable loop, or the equivalent. I don't know how proof against pickpockets it would be, but that is another story.

     

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  28.  
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    Loki, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:12pm

    Wait, what???

    1) So private security is now allowed to conduct search operations on private residences? They are allowed to do so even without police supervision? (the cops waited outside - assuming they were their at all - WTF??)

    Non law enforcement should not even have been allowed in the house, much less allowed to conduct a search alone. My three year old can identify a cell phone, and bring it to me to identify or not.

    2) Police are allowed to conduct searches (or apparently allow private entities to do it for them) without a warrant (as far as I can tell)?

    Verbal permission? In today's Cover Your Ass society? They checked his computer (even if they had a warrant, this would almost certainly be outside the its scope)? What, just in case he might have been making digital copies to upload to Pirate Bay?

    And (assuming the police were actually present), what's with the shoddy paperwork and/or lack of communication? What it sounds like is some cop who sold out to corporate interests tried to pull a fast one, then had associate still on the force try to cover his ass when the shit hit the fan.

     

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  29.  
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    Wayne Newton IV, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:50pm

    iPhone 5 will be awesome

    This whole fiasco reminds me: I *cant wait* till the iphone 5 is out!

     

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    TheBigH (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 9:43pm

    As a major Terry Pratchett fan, I am delighted and amused that there is an actual real life Sergeant Colon.

     

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    IronM@sk, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 11:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: LOL

    We're Dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid Dicks. And the SF Police are Bush's. And Steve Jobs is a Colon. Bush's don't like Dicks, because Bush's get fucked by Dicks. But Dicks also fuck Colon's: Colon's that just want to shit on everything. Bush's may think they can deal with Colon's their way. But the only thing that can fuck a Colon is a Dick, with some balls. The problem with Dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a Bush to show them that. But sometimes, Bush's can be so full of shit that they become Colons themselves... because Bush's are an inch and half away from Colons. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this Colon, we're going to have our Dicks and Bush's all covered in shit!

     

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    Grey Ferret, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    Hmm.... hadn't thought of this until your comment, but I suppose you could put a Heaven/Hell twist on this whole "up" and "down" thing. That puts the Old Man's post in a whole new light.

     

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    Old Man in the Sea, Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 2:11am

    Up is Up and Down is Down

    Thank you Grey Ferret, I has a wonderful laugh.

    But from my perspective, my head points upwards and North America and Europe are below my feet. So it is natural that I that of here as up here in Australia.

     

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    DinDaddy (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re: Updated

    Very questionable. If it is a police visit, only the police should have been present, and only the police should have entered the residence and spoken to the occupants.

     

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    DinDaddy (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    Was. He isn't a sergeant anymore, although he seems to think he is.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 10:40am

    I'm sorry this stinks to high heaven.

    In a city that has enough free time to decide happy meals toys are the only reason children are fat, it seems that they have failed on the idea that people have rights.

    "The SFPD is apparently concerned about this, and says that if Calderon comes to them, they'll investigate whether or not Apple impersonated SFPD officers"

    So its not a possible crime unless someone reports it?
    That the whole incident smelling will not be looked at unless this man comes forward. Because the possibility of police officers who already screwed over his rights then targeting him is totally unheard of.

    All of the PD players need to be suspended as of right now. Playing games of they never went into the house just shows that the city knows they screwed up and are trying to spin the damage control.

    We had a private companies employees given entrance to a private residence by the police. The police remained outside so they could never have to testify that they saw these private employees breaking the law.

    You have a heavy handed Apple investigation that tracked the phone to a home. If they had such convincing evidence, getting a warrant should have been a cake walk. Unless of course they were using the internal map of the network they iThingys have submitted to the mothership.
    Could it be they detected it on the homeowners open wifi?

    The fact that SFPD announced that they were uninvolved, and suddenly change the story when Apple faces liability pretty much shows that the SFPD has corruption within. They have put the welfare of a corporation over the rule of law. They have decided that a resident has fewer rights where a corporation is involved.

    Oh and there is also the amazing chance that this is another "Lost iPhone" oopsise to generate max press coverage for the iThingy 5. The problem was that someone other than their shill found the phone, and they lost control of the situation.

    Dear Apple,
    Having your paid thugs threaten to have nonwhite citizens deported really is a bad thing to do. I mean we all suspected you were racists given the pollution and suicides you overlook in your supply chain. You put a nice clamp down on the reporting, and have a we hug the earth image program and people are still jumping out of factory windows.
    You might want to leave the mothership for a little while and see how your actually operating without the rose colored filter of your iThingy Glasses.

     

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  37.  
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    SFCrimewave, Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Cops = private thugs

    It looks like the SF cops work for private industry now? I've lost my ipod before and therefore, do I get my own private police force (paid thugs) to shake down the people I think stole it? What a joke this country has become where the police are now doing enforcement work for private corporations. Glad to know while someone was being murdered, that the police were out looking for an iPod that was lost in a bar. FAIL!

     

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  38.  
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    bshock, Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    we need to grow out of our naivete

    Why is everyone surprised by a story like this?

    The more money and power you have, the more you get what you want. Governments insist that their "justice" is above money and power, but this is just one more fairy tale designed to keep the herd quiet.

    Apple has massive amounts of money and power. If it wants its employees to masquerade as policemen, that's what happens. If it wants the real police to lie about participating in this masquerade, that's what happens also.

    In this case, we were just seeing a lag between what happened and what Apple decided it wanted.

     

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    FM Hilton, Sep 4th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    Apple now can do search and seizure? Under what law?

     

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    FM Hilton, Sep 4th, 2011 @ 4:04am

    Apple now can do search and seizure? Under what law?

    Apple is a private corporation. Where does the right to do search in a private house come from?

    Where was the warrant? Where was the legal right?

    Did they even bother? The cops standing outside the house do not imply legality of any kind, and they should not have been there in the first place.

    That they were along in the first place is a legal no-no, I do believe. You can't hire city employees to do private investigative work without a serious conflict of interest.

    That the person let the private security forces in without a warrant is troubling and even more troubling is the fact that they threatened him with deportation under no legal provision.

    Last time I checked, Apple was NOT part of the US Government, and had no powers to enforce US immigration law. Same goes for their 'private' security force. They have absolutely no right to investigate a potential crime without warrants signed by a judge.

     

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    dcee (profile), Sep 5th, 2011 @ 12:51am

    Re: Lets see how it turns out

    They did not actually do anything illegal. The SF Police department did. If Colon accepted to get his house searched (on false premises, true), they nothing was illegal for the Apple Investigators.

    Still, a major douche move from Apple. But who would be surprised about that?

     

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    dcee (profile), Sep 5th, 2011 @ 12:53am

    Re: Re: lol

    Yes... either they were first paid to go flash their badges and didn't (of course) report it until the story broke out of control, or they just faked that they went there after the story broke out and Apple seeked their help.

    Either way, Apple is looking meaner than Microsoft has ever looked. Troubling.

     

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  43.  
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    Torian, Sep 6th, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    Um, really guys?

    Okay, seriously? Why is anyone surprised by this?
    This is capitalist america. Those who have money get to do whatever they want and no one is about to stop them any time soon.

    And, are you guys really paying attention and reading the story? It doesn't seem like it. Of course the cops had no real legal reason to be there. Nobody investigates the loss of a single portable device. Obviously Apple was paying for their services. And really, it must have actually been officers there. The fact that they stayed outside (by the resident's own admission) proves that. They only stayed outside to save their own asses. They needed to have plausible deniability of any knowledge of what the apple investigators were actually doing.
    This is also why nobody knew about it until after the story exploded. They didn't want to put themselves in the position of having to explain it if they didn't have to.

    At first I thought it likely that Apple just payed off the "sfpd spokesman" to say they had been involved to save themselves a bit of scandal, but the fact that the four officers stayed outside proved me wrong. If they had all been with Apple they would have all been inside searching the house.

    And yes, honestly, I do believe this whole fiasco is just another publicity stunt by Apple. They have done this a few times now, shortly before the release of a device they pull some stunt about an employee "losing" a prototype in a bar to get some free media to hype up the device. Only this time it ventured outside of their "control group" and they panicked, thereby creating this whole fiasco.

    And honestly, as far as who may have done anything illegal. Obviously the Apple investigators represented themselves as sfpd officers. That's impersonating an officer! And the actual officers presented themselves in an official capacity when they were there basically as private citizens. Not sure exactly where that would lie, but there's got to be some breech of law in there somewhere.

    But you have to keep in mind, that this guy gave them permission to search his house. So there was no illegal search performed. Nobody told him he had to. Nobody said they had a warrant. And even a private citizen can search another private citizen's home if the owner says they can. And yes, the threats of deportation are certainly unethical, but not really illegal in any way other than of course the aforementioned impersonating of an officer.

    But honestly, I have to say again, why is anyone really surprised by any of this? Apple is a very big company in capitalist america. Big companies do whatever they want and no one stops them. This is the country we live in. Anyone who thinks that Apple is "fair" or "nice" or even ethical or interested in common good needs to check their naivete at the door and WAKE THE HELL UP!

    *gets off the soap box*

     

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  44.  
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    dwg, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Re: Um, really guys?

    And, even with all this, who's going to stop buying Apple products? Not enough to make a difference. Did enough people stop buying Nike to stop Nike using sweatshop labor? Nope--we loves our sneaks and our phones. Why should Apple stop doing a damned thing if we vote FOR them with our wallets?

    Not blaming anyone here, or anyone specifically: broader point--people don't see any fallout from what they buy than that they get to have it and what difference could it possibly make? Don't like factory farming? Stop buying factory-farmed meat? Don't like private companies searching your house? Don't buy Apple. Yea, good luck.

     

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    Bryan, Sep 8th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    Wow, now Apple thinks they can trample peoples civil rights

    Wow, if private security from Apple shows up at my door (even with police) and tell me they are going to search my home, they better have a properly executed search warrant. I find it frightening that the SF cops stood outside to provide credibility to the private security goons, and allowed them to search this guys apartment. "To protect and serve." Who, Apple Computer? Disgusting... Someone in the SF police department needs to investigate this and ream somebody a new one.

     

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  46.  
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    Casey-Mahoney-Bradp (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

    Another one

    Didn't Apple lose a Apple phone awhile back in a bar and a guy sold it to a website?? Apple will miss Steve Jobs.

    Thanks Casey Mahoney and Bradp forever

     

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  47.  
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    Tom A, Sep 23rd, 2011 @ 9:31am

    How does this joke end:
    A man with a dev iPhone walks into a bar...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    somebody call The Lightman Group.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Samantha, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Identification of Officials (Government or otherwise)

    In the US (while it may not be widely known), if you are concerned the person presenting themselves is not actually a police officer, you can call 911 and have them confirm with the police station that the person is actually an office. They do this by talking with dispatch and confirming that there is an officer of that name/badge number and was deployed to the location.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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