Did Apple investigators pose as San Franscisco Police Officers in search for missing iPhone

Fri, Sep 2, 2011


Yesterday we recapped a strange story about yet another misplaced iPhone prototype. This time around, the story goes, an Apple employee left an iPhone 5 prototype at a bar. A few days later, Apple reportedly contacted the San Francisco Police Department looking for help to secure the device’s return.

Following that, Apple employees together with officers from the SFPD tracked down the phone’s location to a house in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. This group then spoke to a man in his 20s who lived there about the missing device. This individual, however, denied knowing anything about the iPhone and even let investigators search his house.

“Before leaving the house,” the original report read, “the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.”

Notably, Apple reportedly didn’t file an official police report regarding the lost/missing iPhone.

And now here’s where things get interesting.

SF Weekly spoke to Sergio Calderon, the man who denied having any knowledge of any missing iPhone device. He relays that “six officials claiming to be San Francisco Police officers questioned him and searched his family’s home in July for a lost iPhone 5 prototype they asserted had been traced to the residence using GPS technology.”

If accurate, his account raises the possibility that Apple security personnel attempting to recover the prototype falsely represented themselves as police officers — a criminal act punishable by up to a year in jail in the state of California — or that SFPD employees colluding with Apple failed to properly report an extensive search of a person’s home, car, and computer.

“This is something that’s going to need to be investigated now,” SFPD spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said, when informed about the Bernal Heights man’s statements to SF Weekly. “If this guy is saying that the people said they were SFPD, that’s a big deal.”

Again, Apple filed no police report with the SFPD and SFPD spokesman ALbie Esparaza clarified that there is no record of any SFPD officer being involved in a ‘home visit and search.’

In an interview with SF Weekly, Calderon claims to have threatened him.

Calderón said that at about 6 p.m. six people — four men and two women — wearing badges of some kind showed up at his door. “They said, ‘Hey, Sergio, we’re from the San Francisco Police Department.'” He said they asked him whether he had been at Cava 22 over the weekend (he had) and told him that they had traced a lost iPhone to his home using GPS.

At no point, he said, did any of the visitors say they were working on behalf of Apple or say they were looking for an iPhone 5 prototype.

Calderón, an American citizen who lives with multiple generations of family members, all of whom he said are staying in the U.S. legally, said one of the men also threatened his relatives about their immigration status. “One of the officers is like, ‘Is everyone in this house an American citizen?’ They said we were all going to get into trouble.'”

Anxious to cooperate, Calderón said, he let them search his car and house. He also gave them access to his computer, to see whether he had linked the phone to his hard drive or had information about it in his files. Failing to find the phone anywhere, he said one of the “officers” offered him $300 if he would return it.

“They made it seem like they were on the phone with the owner of the phone, and they said, ‘The person’s not pressing charges, they just want it back, and they’ll give you $300,'” he recalled.

Upon leaving, one of the men left Calderon his number and told him to call it if had any more information to dispense. When SF Weekly called the number, an individual named Anthony Colon picked up and confirmed that he was an Apple employee.

According to Colon’s LinkedIn page, since removed, he is a ‘senior investigator’ at Apple.

This all begs the question – who exactly showed up at Calderon’s residence and did they, in fact, claim to be from the San Francisco Police Department.

Interesting stuff for sure, and the most recent update is that the police will only investigate if Calderon “chooses to speak with them directly and share information about the people who came to his house.”

We’ll see how this plays out.



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