Making Sense of This iPhone 5 Story

A guy says Apple folks, posing as cops, raided his house

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The case of the missing iPhone 5 just got a whole lot weirder. When the news broke on Wednesday that an Apple employee had lost a prototype of the phone at San Francisco tequila bar Cava22 (an apparent repeat of last year's missing iPhone 4 debacle) it seemed like a perhaps-too-strange coincidence. When, on Thursday, the SF Weekly reported that San Francisco police had no record of such a case, even though the original CNET report said police officers tracked the phone to a Bernal Heights house that they searched, it started to stink of a stunt. Now, a new SF Weekly report says a resident there claims Apple employees dressed as San Francisco police officers searched his house. Shortly before that twist came to light, a police spokesman told The Atlantic Wire that Apple wouldn't return the department's calls as it sought to get to the bottom of the mysterious case.

The CNET report started smelling fishy on Thursday, when police said there was no record of the search, or even the complaint, about the missing phone. But those who doubted it tended to believe Apple was orchestrating the fiasco as a marketing gimmick. "Apple has been accused, in the past, of intentionally leaking information on future products as part of its overall marketing strategy, and former employees have confirmed this," reported PC World Thursday. But SF Weekly's latest report brings a new possibility to light. A fairly detailed post on The Snitch blog describes how 22-year-old  Sergio Calderón contacted the paper to describe how a group of people in uniform who identified themselves as San Francisco police officers showed up at his house, searched it, then offered him $300 for the prototype, leaving him with a phone number and a standing offer. SF Weekly Reporter Peter Jamison traced the number to a guy named Anthony Colon, who appears, per this Linkedin profile (a cache version as the original has been taken down), to be a former San Jose police sergeant who now works as an investigator for Apple.

San Francisco police haven't returned a call for comment on the latest development, and neither have Apple's press representatives. Shortly before the SF Weekly story went live on Friday, Lt. Troy Dangerfield, a department spokesman, said Apple's lack of a response to department inquiries about the allegedly missing phone was odd. "We’ve tried to contact Apple to get victims' names, case records, anything and they haven’t been responsive to us," he told The Atlantic Wire. "All we would need would be the victim’s name, the location, or the case number, and within a millisecond we would have that [record]. So the fact they haven’t contacted us back is puzzling." Now that there's an allegation that Apple employees impersonated police, a crime police departments don't take lightly, they might be talking more pretty soon. But Dangerfield told the Weekly police wouldn't start investigating until they get a complaint from Calderón.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.