San Francisco Police Investigate Role Officers Played in Search for Missing iPhone Prototype

By Erin Harrison September 12, 2011

San Francisco police have reportedly been investigating the role officers played in a search by Apple for a missing unreleased iPhone prototype, according to news reports that suggest Apple employees may have impersonated police.

Members of the police department and two Apple employees apparently questioned Sergio Calderon, 22, after an Apple employee lost the (iPhone 5?) handset at a San Francisco tequila bar, CNET reported.

“Lt. Troy Dangerfield, of the San Francisco Police Department, told CNET today that an internal investigation has begun into determining how officers assisted two Apple security employees in their July search of a home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood for the handset,” the Sept. 9 report said.

Last week, CNET reported members of the SFPD and the two Apple employees showed up to the home of Calderon and questioned him about the matter.

“Apple told police that it had electronically tracked the phone to the Bernal Heights address where Calderon resides,” CNET reported.

Calderon also told SF Weekly that when police arrived, “he told them he had no knowledge of the phone or its whereabouts. He did, however, acknowledge being at Cava 22 the night the phone went missing. A source close to the investigation said police asked to search the house and told Calderon that if he declined they would return with a search warrant. Calderon then consented,” according to CNET.

Lo and behold, Apple reportedly located the phone at the Bernal Heights home using GPS technology and called San Francisco police. An Apple spokesman declined to comment, according to CNET’s report.

Because of the city’s proximity to Silicon Valley, “it isn't uncommon for San Francisco police to help private investigators, as they did when Apple security searched a San Francisco home looking for a lost iPhone prototype,” Police Chief Greg Suhr told the San Francisco Chronicle 

However, Calderon declined to discuss the specifics of the incident, telling CNET that he's “talking to an attorney,” but didn't specify why he would consult with a legal professional on the matter.

Some have speculated that Apple employees were impersonating police officers, which is a crime, local criminal defense attorneys say that some of the “allegations are worrisome if true,” the Chronicle reported.

According to Calderon's statements to SF Weekly, he suggested that “officers” tried to intimidate him and his family into cooperating with the search, even inquiring as to whether “everyone living in the house was in the United States legally.”

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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