SFPD says officers were with Apple investigators, didn’t search for lost iPhone 5

Sep 6, 2011
Tech

The story of the supposedly misplaced iPhone prototype in San Francisco keeps getting weirder. Apparently, an unreleased iPhone prototype was misplaced in a bar in San Francisco last week, according to a story from the San Francisco Chronicle. That report said that Apple contacted the San Francisco Police Department after using the company’s tracking technology […]

The story of the supposedly misplaced iPhone prototype in San Francisco keeps getting weirder.

Apparently, an unreleased iPhone prototype was misplaced in a bar in San Francisco last week, according to a story from the San Francisco Chronicle. That report said that Apple contacted the San Francisco Police Department after using the company’s tracking technology to narrow down the location of the phone.

Apple reportedly sent investigators along with some SFPD officers to the house where they believed the iPhone was, but after questioning a man at the house and even searching it, they were unable to turn up the iPhone prototype.

It gets strange when the SFPD denied that they went with Apple investigators to look for the misplaced phone, and no report was filed with the police. It led some to assume that Apple investigators had impersonated police officers in order to search for the phone. But according to the SF Weekly, the SFPD has since confirmed that yes, it did send officers with Apple investigators, but they stayed out of the house while the Apple employees did the actual searching.

SF Weekly reports that the SFPD said Apple requested that no report be filed. That lack of report is what led the SFPD to earlier comment that there was no record of officers receiving a report from Apple about the missing phone. These latest comments appear to be a complete reversal of that position.

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Sergio Calderón, 22, the man whose home was searched for the missing iPhone, denies he was ever in possession of it. Apple investigators scoured his house and even checked his computer files looking for any trace of the prototype, SF Weekly reports, but turned up nothing. Calderón confirmed that only two of the six people who showed up at his house looking for the phone actually took part in the search.

Calderón also said that the two people entering his house didn’t disclose that they were private security officers, and the only people who identified themselves were the actual police, SF Weekly reports.

“When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD,” Calderón said. “I thought they were SFPD. That’s why I let them in.” He said he would not have permitted the search if he had been aware the two people conducting it were not actually police officers.

The actions of the investigators seem to have entered a hazy legal gray area, and SF Weekly notes that it’s not clear if their actions could constitute impersonating a police officer, a misdemeanor in California that carries as much as a year of jail time.

The SFPD said it would be following up with Calderon to ask more questions about the incident. Here’s another quote from SF Weekly’s report:

At the least, the incident is sure to raise questions about the propriety of multiple SFPD officers helping private detectives conduct a search — which was never properly recorded, per standard police operating procedure — of somebody’s home. ‘Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item, and some plainclothes officers responded out to the house with them,’ Dangerfield said. ‘My understanding is that they stood outside.’ He added, ‘They just assisted Apple to the address.’

Dangerfield said he was not aware of whether it was a San Francisco police officer or one of the Apple security officers who first knocked on Calderón’s door. ‘Anyone has a right to keep people from their homes if they don’t want them there, legally,’ Dangerfield said.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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