Police investigating iPhone HD/iPhone 4G incident


The circumstances surrounding that iPhone HD/iPhone 4G prototype that surfaced online this week are now officially being looked into by local law enforcement:

Apple has spoken to local police about the incident and the investigation is believed to be headed by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney's office, the source said. Apple's Cupertino headquarters is in Santa Clara County, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.

None of the parties directly involved have commented yet, and seriously we don't expect them to at this point since anything they say could literally be used against them.

All we know is that this will make a heckuva sequel to Pirates of Silicon Valley. Wonder if Noah Wiley still has that black turtleneck...

[CNET, thanks to Jeremy and everyone who sent this in!]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 46 comments. Add yours.

frog says:

Good. Gizmodo bought stolen property...

evie says:

The photo reminds me -- this will definitely be a "ripped from the headlines" episode before long. Only they'll add a murder or two as a twist.

bob says:

Does anyone ever review these articles for spelling before they are posted?

DanL says:

@ bob it's a blog dude get over it thx bye

bob says:

Already fixed. Thank you!!

Andrew says:

I wonder who is more/less at fault here... the guy who originally "picked up" the phone, or Gizmodo for buying it??

Glenn#IM says:

Apple would have a better chance in civil court against Giz. I do no believe just buying the phone is enough for criminal court. They bought found property. A lot depends on what they knew when before buying.

JK says:

They bought stolen property which IS a criminal offense.
There's little doubt the phone was stolen. You might think the situation was theft, but by law it is theft by taking it home and not turning it into the bar to hold the true owner.

JK says:

not theft, but by law it is theft*

Ben Gillam says:

Getting real tired of this now, the phone was never stolen. Attempts were made to return it and were rejected. The guy was a cock for then selling it and gizmodo were idiots to pay for it, any self respecting gadget liver would have given it to them to take a look at then tried again to return.
Seriously if I were apple I would quit now and be happy it's back, screwing gizmodo up will only harm them in the long run.

lonbeehold says:

For it to be a crime, you have to KNOW the property was stolen. Now that the police are involved, I can no longer deny it is the real deal-I think it's ugly, so was hoping is wasn't, lol.

Stuartino says:

I thought they bought a Chinese knock off, seeing as how at the time Apples new phone didn't exist?

TK says:

Apple = Fail
It was lost, never stolen. There were attempts to return it but they were rejected. There's a ticket number to prove it. The guy who found it tried to return it.
Apple is the one to blame, their engineer lost it, they rejected taking it back, come on, how often does someone call in and say "I have your prototype"? Especially since they knew it was missing since they remotely bricked it.
The only way for it to of been stolen, was if the engineer was mugged. Which he wasn't, he got drunk and forgot it.

villainx says:

Given what that areas local economy is, the law enforcement and Apple taking vigorous steps to investigate should be a given. While this might have been harmless (or not), turning a blind eye to these types of action would only be a bad thing.

Julio says:

Hey Gizmodo!!! It costs to have an exclusive man...dont be surprised if their site goes down...lol..id be scared if i where theme. regardless of whether they stole it or not..Apple aint to happy with their site...they got exclusive this and exclusive that...ohhh yeahh. That lawsuit will be exclusive too..and they BETTER cover that on their site...lololol

Luis says:

I think this is all part of apples evil plan to publish the new versión. Btw the htc hd2 look awsomely hot

9thWonder says:

In california you have to "knowingly" buy stolen property. And by all reports I have heard it was not stolen but lost. There could be other causes of actions but receiving stolen property is probably not a strong case and not likely to even get past the complaint stage.

9thWonder says:

oh by the way where Apple may have a cause of action is under the federal code for theft of trade secrets. Now i don't know if there are any trade secrets in this iphone. But i can be a crime to even photograph them and transmit them without authorization. and technically you don't need to steal the secret. It's enough that you knowingly appropriate it without authorization. And Gizmodo was crazy enough to take it apart and photograph the insides and then put it all over the internet. Risky considering you already got the scoop on the story.

SheiknetChris says:

you guys here on the comments are tyeping to badly! This sentence structure is a good

Earless Puppy says:

I personally think it is not even the purchase of known stolen or found goods, it is the fact that they took it apart and released trade secrets knowingly

Pimp Lucious says:

Stop being such a b*tch Steve.

Ky772 says:

No matter what Steve does, he's still not going to be the guy introducing the next Iphone on stage. Come June, it will already be old news. Wow, Gizmodo really tore Steve a new one. The man that lives for the moment of shocking and awing everyone by introducing I-whatever and the man whose company is renowned for it's secrecy all ousted by a drunkard mistake! Know what this is? It's cosmic justice. The universe basically spat on Steve over the course of the week.
Man, this is hilarious! Simply.. absolutely.. hilarious.

TonyJohns says:

And the soap opera continues. This is all a set up and is planned. I have to hand it to Mr. Jobs, he sure is a smart man.

big9erfan says:

You don't have to knowingly purchase stolen property to be in a heap of trouble with the law. Even if you don't know it was stolen, and you possess it, you can run into legal woes. It's up to the DA to press criminal charges, it's up to Apple to file a civil lawsuit. Until it goes civil, don't "blame" Apple.

Derek says:

Gizmodo bought the phone as lost, not stolen. By law, they're clear.

frog says:

Derek: Not in the US myself. Are we suggesting it's legal to keep something you find in the US? In nearly every other country, it's regarded as "theft by find". ie... if you find something of value, and keep it - you have stolen it.

icebike says:

Found or Stolen both go out the window if the guy intentionally left it behind or was encouraged to to steal the Encredible's thunder.
It wasn't found on the floor. It was found perching on a bar stool.
(Those of you who think Apple does not do this have very short memories. Droid. G1. Macbook Air announcements all timed to upstage competitive products. Why do you think Apple is so secretive?)
Both finder and buyer will claim they had every reason to believe it was discarded property, or that the employee was disgruntled, or that it was a plant. Big camera shy people will have to testify, and they may choose not to do so.
@Derek: Not so fast. Read the Cnet article.

macharborguy says:

Gizmodo bought a phone that was, at that time in their minds either...
a) a knock off and a fake, in which case, no harm
b) the real deal
the person they bought it from said they found it, and by all accounts, found it within the past month. irregardless of (a) or (b), California state law says that ownership of a "found" item does NOT transfer to the finder until several years have passed. Gizmodo knowingly bought an item from someone that did not have the right to sell it, and at that point the item became stolen.
now yes, the "finder" did try to make a "good faith return" of the item. He called "tech support". But did he attempt to call "Apple Corporate"? If you find a secret Dell product, do you call "Dell Tech Support", which is most likely out-sourced and not even in the US, or do you call "Dell Corporate"?
This is a messy situation, and no single commenter on a website, nor mass of commenters on a website, is going to come up with the right or the wrong in this case.

Geo Coldz says:

Who is this gonna help? Apple? Its just a waste of time for the police the do this. Gizmo gave it back and its all good!

Wongnog says:

@Rene Ritchie: you mean Noah Wyle, right?

John says:

If he wasn't supposednti remove it from the Apple campus then it constitutes theft. And as others have said, publishing of trade secrets may also be a crime.

Ray says:

This is all bull. Apple planted a seed so that people would get a preview of the upcoming iphone and not wonder off to HTC. Supposedly someone stole it. Blah Blah! No one stole it. This is all part of a big plan. I bet you the cops will never find the person that sold Gizmodo the iphone. Just like the US could not find Osama Bin Ladin. Insider stuff. ;)

cycling56#CB says:

I'm with TonyJohns and Ray it well planned stunt by Apple.

OmariJames says:

I'm so tired of seeing blog posts about this. They are so overly dramatic.

Jax says:

You guys really think that's the new hardwear of the iPhone!?? It's really ugly looks like it should belong to METRO PCS!!! lol!!!

zero credability says:

your tinfoil hat seems to be a little tight.

Julio's Mom says:

@ Julio
Man, did you even reread what you wrote? This will amount to nothing, Giz isn't going anywhere, and there will be no suit. Stop thinking that watching crime dramas makes you a lawyer. Do you think Giz is run by 2 guys in their dorm room and don't have a legal staff to run things by? Their parent company is worth $300 million dollars. Props to them for getting the year's biggest tech scoop.

Kris says:

I am not sure if it is legal or not and don't really care however I also believe this was planned either from before it was lost or after gizmodo bought it. I mean beside the front facing camera and flash we have learned really nothing from this we know it os a higher resolution screen (as expected) but don't know the actual resolution it has a physically larger battery but don't know performance, we know
that the internals are smaller but no other details e.g. Processor speeds ram etc. All that this "leak" has
told us for definite are things which apple had to do to keep up with the competition and which were completly expected

Macboy74 says:

I can't belIeve you morons still think that this phone is the real deal lol. Looks like the hype apple built is work real well. Bunch of suckers.

HungWell says:

This is just one PR stunt after another. Good work Jobs. I'm just sitting back watching my Apple stock go through the roof.

Ky772 says:

@Macboy 15 and all you other idiots who believe this is a sham.
So, in order to build hype, Apple has to.. Cover up a prototype in order to conceal a "fake" Iphone, put actual Iphone parts inside "fake" Iphone, fire an engineer for a "fake" Iphone, remotely shut off a "fake" Iphone and sent a formal letter to Gizmodo requesting the return of a "fake" Iphone. Oh, and now they're pursuing police investigation.. because of a fake Iphone.. even AFTER it was returned. uh huh.
The sucker here is you, since you refuse to believe anything that doesn't come out of Job's mouth. That's pretty sad.

Max Power says:

And now Gizmodo's site is down...

Macboy74 says:

@mintoreo Nope your still the champ as far as idiots go. This hype build up happens every year douche bag. This is just a different way of doing it. Do you think this is the phone thats going to come out in June? I bet ya $5000 it's not. Let me know.

Mitchell says:

All Losers who think this is fake. Can't afford it and your all jealous

Kris says:

Oh really Mitchell. U mind telling me how much it costs? U must know in order to come out with a statement like that. I have been able to find a way to get everyphone I have ever wanted( probably due to the subsidy model here in uk) I like the design that has been shown and it may very well be final. But somethings to do with this leakd/lost iPhone and the way it has come out don't really match up for me. However this doesn't mean I am too skint to afford a new iPhone when it comes out