San Francisco Police Admits to Helping Apple in iPhone 5 Prototype Recovery [Report]

San Francisco Police Admits to Helping Apple in iPhone 5 Prototype Recovery [Report]

We told you yesterday that Apple had allegedly lost a next gen iPhone prototype in a San Franciscan tequila bar. Through a string of events, it was uncovered that Apple had purportedly tracked the prototype device to an apartment in Bernal Heights and sent a private security team on a recovery mission.

The San Francisco Police originally said that it had no knowledge of such an investigation, and it was believed that Apple’s security team could have posed as police for the purpose of searching the apartment of Sergio Calderón. Now, the SFPD is saying that officers did in fact help Apple in the attempt to recover the mysterious iPhone prototype.

The San Francisco Weekly reports:

“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 Calderón, 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 Calderón’s home, car, and computer files for any trace of the lost iPhone 5. The phone was not found, and Calderón denies that he ever possessed it.”

Calderón says that 6 people entered his home and searched his personal belongings for the prototype after allegedly tracking the prototype location to said apartment. One of the men that entered the apartment has been traced back to Apple and is listed as a “senior investigator” for the Cupertino company.

“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.”

This is a very odd situation. The SFPD originally states that it has no knowledge of the event, then the story makes the news, and the SFPD comes back with a vague statement affirming that the local police were in fact involved.

“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.”

Impersonating an officer is a crime punishable with up to a year in prison in the state of California. Is the SFPD backtracking to cover Apple’s tracks? Unlikely.

We’ll let you know more as the story develops.

  • Sir1honda

    F u c k you apple…
    You are such a bitch moaning ass hole

  • Tosha Oneal

    That’s almost the same story as the iPhone 4 that was lost in some bar and Engadet got a hold of it and took pictures.  Are Apple staffers that careless – or is this just a way to keep up the hype?

  • Guest

    Is the SFPD backtracking to cover Apple’s tracks?

    You bet your ass they are. The story doesn’t make sense.

    -Calderon said he thought they were all officers.
    -The SFPD says only 4 of the 6 men were officers.
    -The SFPD says the officers stayed outside while the Apple PI’s searched the house, which is basically not even close to police protocol.

    This story is fishy as hell and Apple is working some strings to make sure this story doesn’t become a huge nationwide 4th Amendment story.

  • misdemeaning

    The 4th amendment, how does it work?

  • TazmanianHat

    However they need it to work.

  • markbyrn

    Oh, the bleeding about the 4th Amendment.  Hate to break the news to you but if the police ask if they can check inside the house and the owner voluntarily says ‘yes’, there’s no 4th Amendment about it and no warrant is required.  Now if the owner had say ‘No’ or ‘not unless you have a warrant’, and they still came in without a warrant, than we’re talking the 4th.  

  • TazmanianHat

    They’re Cops, eh. They do what they want to to do. They are above the law. Don’t you know that?

  • randall

    The last article said the police were going to investigate the Apple team calling themselves officers, now they’re saying they helped? So incredibly sick of this story. It’s all fake.

  • Yasaswy Nagavolu

    I guess its just hype.. Better wait for AllThingdD to ask TIm Cook or Steve again about it and they’ll describe a hollywood movie again.

  • Jeff1741

    It was Gizmodo. And they paid 5 grand in cash to get it.

  • CharliK

    It wasn’t a police search, apparently, so protocol may not matter. 

    We only have this ‘victim’ and his word that no one ever said they were from Apple and he could refuse to let them in. 

    And heck, what if it turns out that this Dangerfield called the paper rather than the other way around and told them about the search. how would we know that it really was him. Wouldn’t be hard for any guy, having seen that name in the articles, to call claiming to be him

  • baby_Twitty

    I don’t care if this is a lame publicity stunt or a hoax and just a very bad screwed up by Apple and SFPD.

    all i want to ask everybody is, “What would you do, if you are holding a lost iPhone 5 prototype right now?”

    Please reply logically, thanks.

  • Barriguita

    The plot thickens…

  • Guest

    Find my iPhone ?

  • Chris Kahrhoff

    Warrant or GTFO

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  • Booger

    SFPD is owned by Apple.

  • Golem

    If the SFPD was involved, they stayed outside instead of searching and let PIs search because Apple doesn’t want anyone but their own employee(s) to see and get the prototype because they can’t control what happens to the information and the device if the police get their hands on it.  In order to enable the PIs to search, the SFPD would have to get a search warrant and the PIs would have to be temporarily sworn in as SFPD officers. Apple wouldn’t want the person who has it criminally charged because that would require the phone be siezed as evidence by the police which would cause it to be examinable by others too.  It will be very interesting when the facts of this are revealed, it could cause a lot of litigation against the SFPD and Apple.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Give it back to the rightful owners.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Not unless there is probable cause to search. If there’s a bloody trail to your trunk, a police officer need not ask if she/he can search through your property.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    You what’s fishy? The fact that Apple traced the prototype to that man’s house. You think a prototype iPhone, one in a few in existence, would have a faulty GPS chip? I’m not saying he did it, all I’m saying is if this device is worth so much money having not been announced, Apple has a right to reclaim the, now, stolen property.

  • b3815

    I would do what is required by law and return it in a reasonable time to it’s rightful owners. However, I cannot think off handoif any potential illegality in taking a lot of pictures and video of an item I found in public. In fact, it would be advisable as legal protection in certain circumstances. Then I would research the law in my jurisdiction as to profiting on said pictures. Apple knowingly took a risk by allowing an Apple employee to take thenphone out in public in a place where there is little expectation of privacy, and trade secret law generally would not seem to apply; therefore, there would be nothing wrong in making a legal profit. Indeed, Apple does that all of the time.

  • rohitkapur

    i would send some pics to cult of mac and engadget, as long as i don’t get arrested or have my brand new macbook pro taken (it’s my first mac!)

  • Mike Rathjen

    4th amendment is irrelevant. The resident of the apartment gave them permission.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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