Sunday, September 04, 2011

SFPD admits aiding Apple, but says stood outside as Apple investigators searched for lost iPhone 5, without a warrant

After first saying they had no record of any recent investigation into an iPhone lost at San Francisco's Cava 22 bar, the San Francisco Police Department has reversed course. Thus, instead of Apple investigators impersonating SFPD, we have a story that still has a lot of questions to be answered.

Reputation.comSFPD spokesperson Lt. Troy Dangerfield, who first said he knew nothing of an investigation, issued the following statement:
September 2, 2011


After speaking with Apple representatives, we were given information which helped us determine what occurred. It was discovered that Apple employees called Mission Police station directly, wanting assistance in tracking down a lost item. Apple had tracked the lost item to a house located in the 500 block of Anderson Street. Because the address was in the Ingleside Police district Apple employees were referred to Officers in the Ingleside district. Four SFPD Officers accompanied Apple employees to the Anderson street home. The two Apple employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item. The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house.

The Apple employees did not want to make an official report of the lost item.
So why all the confusion? It turns out that three or four SFPD plainclothes detectives went with two Apple private investigators, including the previously identified Anthony Colon, but only the Apple investigators entered the home of Sergio Calderon of Bernal Heights in San Francisco. And, only the Apple investigators performed the search. - Unmask Blocked CallsCalderon said that although the pair did not ID themselves as police, neither did not make it clear they were not police. In fact, Calderon was under the impression that they were.

He said that he would not have allowed them to search if he had been aware they were not police. Of course, without a warrant, Calderon would not have needed to allow the actual SFPD to search, either.

Although it appears that, indeed, the SFPD accompanied Apple investigators to Calderon's house, several questions remain.
  • Why did they stand outside? The obvious answer is that Apple didn't even want the SFPD to see an iPhone 5 they might have found in Calderon's house.
  • How proper is this sort of behavior? Who else would they "lead" to a residence so the person could conduct his or her own search? Is this simply because it was Apple (and it sounds like it)?
  • Why did they even need to go at all? Apple reportedly knew where the phone was via "Find My iPhone." Answer: to help intimidate the person.
This is all (hopefully) going to turn into a huge PR nightmare for both Apple and the police. This sort of tactic should not be permitted.

Finally, it's pretty definite this was an iPhone 5 prototype. Dangerfield's press release was issued in the form of a Word doc, labeled "iphone5.doc."

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