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?
[via The Next Web]