Regarding San Francisco Police, Apple and the search for the missing iPhone prototype

Despite a day of wild rumors, SFWeekly is reporting that the San Francisco Police Department did assist Apple investigators when an iPhone prototype device again went missing in a bar late July this year.

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. "Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item, and some plainclothes officers responded out to the house with them. My understanding is that they stood outside. They just assisted Apple to the address."

There had been some wild rumors suggesting that Apple employees had actually impersonated police officers however these now appear to be well wide of the mark. Just as well as that would have been a criminal offence! One thing does remain a bit of a mystery, why did San Francisco Police Department take so long to actually record the incident?

[SFWeekly via MacRumors]

 

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Regarding San Francisco Police, Apple and the search for the missing iPhone prototype

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So the police stood outside while the Apple employees went and snooped round the guy's appartment, where was their warrant ?? Why did the police just stay outside while the Apple employees did their thing ??
Still sounds bang out of order imo. Good ol Gestapple.

Because he was led to believe they were cops too and he would be wise to let then in?
Starts sounding more and more like a bad A-team episode (and no, apple isn't one of the good guys in that episode...)

Chris, what do you think about the ramifications this will have on their current litigation? Do you think the attorneys will try and use this as fuel?

The SFPD still has not recorded the incident. If they had, the spokesperson, Lt Dangerfield, would be able to give specifics. He does not.

  • "three or four" officers went -- a police report would definitively note not only how many officers were there, but who.
  • "my understanding is that they stood outside" -- a report would also indicate exactly what the officers did. There would be no "understanding" on the part of the Lt Dangerfield; the report would say, specifically, their actions.
  • "they just assisted Apple to the address" -- the report would also indicate what the police were responding to, and why.

The fact that Lt Dangerfield is not (or cannot) be more forthcoming -- when there is no investigation to warrant being closed on these details -- is highly suspicious. I suppose that his statements technically are better for Apple, in that they will likely keep the Apple employees from being accused of a felony, but it still stinks to high heaven. Simple questions:
1) If the Apple employees had the location, for what cause was the SFPD "assisting" them to the address?
2) Once at the address, what was the purpose of plainclothes police officers? It would have to be one of the following:
a) To plant the legitimacy of a police operation to Apple's efforts in the homeowner's mind
b) To consult with the Apple employees, providing their expertise in search operations to agents who are not under the same judicial constraints (e.g. a warrant)
c) To take over as an official police operation based on the findings of the Apple employees.
a) seems pretty clear from the article, and is troublesome enough. b) and c) are far worse, but not as clear, but all three possibilities suggest a company essentially being lent police resources to assist in a private matter, a dangerous precedent that stinks to high heaven.
The obvious retort is that the police were not hired (or lent as a favor to Apple), and this was simply police procedure, but:
1) The officers were in plainclothes, but showed their badges.
2) The officers as a group identified themselves as police, allowing the homeowner to infer a police identify for the Apple employees
3) As noted above, Lt. Dangerfield cannot nail specifics of the incident.
Anybody in the US, even dyed-in-the-wool Apple fans, should be extremely troubled by this incident.

1) It was stated by the SFPD that they did not record the incident, because Apple did not request a formal report. Just like any private citizen has the right to do. The "suspicious" lack of details all stem from this fact.
2) My car was vandalized a few days ago by punks throwing rocks from the fourth floor of a parking garage. I knew they were on the fourth floor. Think I waltzed up there myself to confront them, Clint Eastwood-style? No. I called the police to assist.
3) I would imagine that the purpose of the police officers was to ensure no one got hurt.
4) By the way, the police officers that responded to my call were plainclothes, too. Clearly, this was done so that the punks who vandalized my car would infer that I was also police (so they would be extra extra sorry).
Obviously, we don't have all the facts yet and I'm interested to see how they unfold. But I think some people are coming across as a little too eager to jump to conclusions here.

You seriously don't see the difference between police standing by and watching a dispute between two private parties and plainclothes police lending the air of legitimacy to an extralegal search?

You seriously have jumped to the conclusion that the SFPD sent plainclothes officers as a part of a conspiracy to make Apple employees appear to be cops?

It's a prototype, probably won't even look like the final product. Fire the idiot who lost it, send a memo companywide on restrictions for public use, get on with business.

Let's take the word of a thief. After all, a thief would never lie...
Some reality: impersonating a police officer is a criminal act and is punishable by up to a year in jail in the state of California.
Knowing this, if Mr. Calderón was telling the truth, he would have pressed charges against the two Apple investigators.
But he didn't... Hmmm... ;-)

Apparently the plain clothes officers could've been used so that when everyone showed up at his house a couple flashed badges so he could've assumed they were all police.

If the Apple employees wanted to do an authentic job of impersonating police officers, they would've planted an iPhone in the home.

It is very common for police officers to conduct what would be called a "stand by"; they literally stand by to keep peace while one party approaches another about a non-criminal and, typically, civil issue. These officers may not have written a report because there wasn't anything for them to do if the phones weren't reported missing and entered into the system.

That is the case when police are on scene or on the beat already, not when they are summoned to the scene by one of the parties. In that case, there would always be a report of the dispatch, if nothing else.

In the source of this article, sfweekly, it says none of the persons identified themselves as apple employees. So if you don't know some are NOT cops, and you do see some badges, combined with the shock of having cops on your doorstep, I understand him not thinking some might he civilians..
Plus, according the same source, the cops (I assume the real ones) intimidate him, questioning his and his family's legal status.
Remember, this site (tipb) based this post on a post on macrumors, which is based on the source sfweekly. Which each story, it becomes more pro apple, but they leave a lot out which is mentioned in the first article..

@iguest: To be clear, it is Calderon, the homeowner, who claims that no one identified themselves as apple employees. Which is different, by the way, than saying that they identified themselves as cops.
Also, to be clear, Calderon's story is extremely fishy. The missing phone just happens to have been tracked to his residence, and he just happens to have been at the same bar the night it went missing, yet he knows nothing of it. Any reasonable person would have to suspect he is lying. Best case scenario -- and this is really stretching credulity -- is that the person who took the phone was with him at the bar and came home with him that night, yet never mentioned it to him.

@Tim Yu
and that is why the police has procedures they must follow, because "reasonable people" can and are often wrong. There is a way to build a case, and this ain't it.

@Guest
And that is why no charges have been filed against Calderon. No one appears to have pursued this legally. This was not about building a legal case.
The question is, why don't you take some of your reasonable doubt and apply it equally to Apple and the police? Do you have some reason to be so quick to believe the accusations of a probable thief?