Apple’s Policies On Theft Allow A Thief To Get A Free Replacement For Your Stolen iPhone

Apple’s Policies On Theft Allow A Thief To Get A Free Replacement For Your Stolen iPhone

Imagine having your iPhone stolen while you’re out with your friends one night, then discovering that the thief who stole it had the audacity to return it to an Apple retail store for replacement after you had it blocked. Thanks to Apple’s policies on theft, that’s exactly what happened to Scott Barkley from Toronto.

Barkley had his coat stolen — with his iPhone 4S, car keys, and wallet inside — while he sat drinking at his local bar. He later discovered the coat in a nearby alley, but his valuables had gone. After canceling his credit cards and having his carrier block his iPhone, Barkley then filed a police report.

To his surprise, he received an email the following afternoon from Apple. You see, in a bid to get the iPhone unblocked, the thief who had taken Barkley’s iPhone had booked an appointment with the Genius Bar at his local Apple store. With the iPhone registered to Barkley, it was he who received the confirmation.

The Toronto Star reports that Barkley then phoned the Apple store for help, but he had little success:

[Barkley] called the store to tell them that the person who showed up for that appointment would probably be carrying his stolen phone.

Perhaps, Barkley asked the clerk on the phone, Apple might want to notify mall security? Barkley was told it is Apple policy not to get involved in such matters.

So what happened next? Well, Apple allowed the thief to walk into its store, have the iPhone replaced free of charge, and then walk back out again without any questions:

Detectives called Barkley to tell him he could pick up his phone at the police station. It turns out someone did come in with the phone – before Barkley and the police arrived – with a story about buying it from a friend of Barkley’s uncle, only to find the phone didn’t work. In fact, it wasn’t working because Barkley had had the service disconnected.

The Apple clerk at the Genius Bar assumed it was a phone malfunction, and seemingly without checking to make sure, handed the man a brand new phone and put Barkley’s stolen phone in the back, to be sent off for servicing.

Thankfully for Barkley, police managed to obtain his iPhone and have it returned before it was sent off for servicing. The thief, however, is still using his replacement, and Apple is hundreds of dollars down at the end of the day.

Of course, it’s understandable that the company would choose not to intervene; after all, employee safety is more valuable than an iPhone, and its current policy means that its employees aren’t required to confront suspected criminals. But I can’t help but wonder how often this kind of situation happens, and how many stolen iPhones Apple will replace each year because it refuses to step in.

Barley said that he believes detectives were “amazed” by Apple’s “whole disinterest”:

I think it amused them to do something nice, to get someone’s phone back. I think they were amazed by the whole disinterest.

The thief got their phone, I got mine and because of their own indifference, Apple is out a $500 phone.

It could be that the company now uses the replacement device and the details used to activate it to provide police with information on the thief, leaving them to follow things up. But should Apple be doing more?

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  • Len Williams

    OK, but how about offering an alternative to what Apple “should” have done. What type of scenario should Apple tell their employees to take when this occurs? It’s easy to criticize, but how about some suggestions. Criminals have this disagreeable habit of becoming violent when they think they’re about to be caught or discovered.

  • Kristen Mackenzie-Walters

    Proof of identity…knowing security question answers in order to receive a replacement – paper trail of some kind…too easy to just sit there and say let’s not do anything this person might become violent – what’s to deter people from stealing if there are no consequences – god knows we can’t rely on innate goodness – moral upstanding or strength of character anymore…even our local cable company has their customer service people behind bullet proof glass windows..

  • al friede

    this is one of the few times i can say FAIL to ? as this is absurd to think that they reward thieves with a brand new phone! 

  • dsjr2006

    No mention of Find My iPhone?? The carriers don’t deal with theft either. There’s too much liability and it’s not their job, they will assist law enforcement only, which is the way it should be.

  • Joneil Angeles

    Employee safety is really the main concern for Apple. If an employee sees a thief stealing something in the store they are not permitted to run after them but instead report it to their management team. There are already instances where employees intervene and the criminals get pissed off and they wait for them after their shift and confronts them.

    The only wrongdoing of the Apple employee in replacing the phone is that they didn’t check for the proper credentials but I don’t know how this happened with the process of filling out forms to obtain a replacement phone.

  • Figurative

    Doesn’t the guy on the bike look like Scott Forstall?

  • cassandralite

    Question for Barkley: If you knew what Apple store the appt was booked at, and you knew the time, and you knew the name that the thief would be using…how come you, accompanied by a cop, didn’t show up yourself?

  • Mike Rathjen

    Hypothetical scenario…

    Barkley says the phone is stolen. Other guy says Barkley sold it to him for cash. What is Apple supposed to do, hold court and make a judgement? This, in addition to safety, is another reason why Apple doesn’t want to get involved.

  • ??nD ??os??A

    Doesn’t Apple get paid a subsidy each month from the carrier?  So Apple just acquired a new customer. Now they are receiving two monthly subsidies off the efforts of one sale. 

  • Lindsay Manahan

    my classmate’s sister-in-law makes $84 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired for 7 months but last month her income was $9078 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this site NuttyRich.cöm

  • Goldie20

    The police did show up at the scheduled time of the appointment. Unfortunately the thief arrrived @ 30 minutes early before the appointment and was gone by the time the police arrived.

  • John Malekin

    I don’t usually write comments but I must say one thing… I’ve got a free iphone from one website! It was a free offer where I just left my email, they contacted me and sent me free working Apple Iphone 4s to test it and keep it. 

    To be honest, I wouldn’t believe in this if someone told this to me. I usually don’t believe in free stuff :| Check this website, you have nothing to loose believe me! http://bit.ly/ooe6us :) John.

  • Bart?omiej ?api?ski

    Are you serious? Can’t Apple pay for a few armed security men in each Apple store with all their billions of dollars they made? This is like my bank would give someone my account details just because the criminal went in and asked for it, and they were too frightened to upset him :P “Oh noes, the criminal is going to become violent the moment he is denied something!”

    There are metal detectors and things like that. Or are they allowing guns in Apple stores?

  • timoftelaur

    My friend was working on apple and he changed his profession and life build career because he discovered the best method to get a iphone for free. Each problem which I have with iPhone it’s finished for me because my friend Tony helps me.
    After he told me the best method to get a free iPhone 4S, it always helps me with all sorts of questions I have. This is his job and I appreciate very much his website free-us-iphone.com .
    I hope that he will help you with your all questions. It is an amazing man. All my family got free iPhone 4s . It’s a user proof category there if you don`t believe me. This man is my idol

  • da8iwr

    I don’t see any problem here, the old iPhone will have DNA and finger prints all over it and as it is officially registered to Barkley, he can now report this as stolen and get it blocked as well.

    Apple are down only the manufacturing cost which is about £80 GBP, not the retail cost.

  • da8iwr

    Only of it is sold on a carrier, I bought mine outright so is completely unlocked and this is a replacement under warranty, not a new iPhone.

  • da8iwr

    My speaker button stopped working so I walked into an apple store in newcastle uk, they checked the serial, said its under warranty would I like a new (reconditioned) iPhone. I said yes, they asked is it all backed up, I said yes and they gave me it. No forms, no proof, just a new iPhone.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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