Apple, notorious for its corporate secrecy and for releasing industry defining products, could come under government scanner if it turns out to be true that its employees had allegedly impersonated San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officials while conducting a search in the house of a man, who was at a tequila bar the night an iPhone 5 prototype reportedly got lost.
According to SF Weekly, six investigators in police uniforms had approached Sergio Calderón at his two-floor, single-family Bernal Heights home and after identifying themselves as authorities from SFPD, proceeded to search Calderón's home for any evidence or information relating to the missing iPhone 5 prototype.
Calderón said the investigators said the prototype, which reportedly was lost at Cava 22, a tequila bar in the Mission district this summer, was traced to his house through GPS technology and they had threatened him by saying that he and his family could be in big trouble if they are not American citizen.
According to CNET, the investigators also offered Calderón money for the safe return of the prototype though he continued to deny having any knowledge of the whereabouts of the device.
Calderón said one of the investigators who gave his name as Tony, also left his number directing Calderón to call him if he had any further information. SF Weekly said a person called Anthony Colon answered the call when the number was dialed and identified himself as an Apple employee. A public profile of Colon on LinkedIn, now pulled down, said Colon is a former San Jose Police sergeant and now in employment at Apple as a senior investigator.
If Calderón's account of the event told to SF Weekly is factually accurate and SFPD decides to investigate the matter, Apple could be in big trouble as impersonating police officers is a criminal act and is punishable by up to a year in jail in the state of California.
According to the police, if the SFPD had conducted such a search, a police report in that regard would have been filed.
This is something that's going to need to be investigated now, SFPD spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield told SF Weekly. If this guy is saying that the people said they were SFPD, that's a big deal.
There's something amiss here. If we searched someone's house, there would be a police report, he added.
However, there is a twist is the tale. Dangerfield later told SF Weekly that the SFPD will only investigate the matter if Calderón directly approaches them and complains.
Dangerfield also told SF Weekly that three or four officers from SFPD had accompanied Apple employees to Calderón's home but had stood outside while Apple's detectives had searched the home. Dangerfield said he came across this information after contacting Apple and speaking to the captain of the Ingleside police station.
Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item, and some plainclothes officers responded out to the house with them, Dangerfield said. My understanding is that they stood outside. He added, They just assisted Apple to the address.
Reuters reported the police also issued a press release stating that The two Apple (security) employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item. The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house.
However, it still doesn't explain why the event - the fact that police officers had helped Apple employees conduct the search - was not properly recorded. The police refused to offer any explanation.
Though Apple is infamous for keeping its products secret before their launch, if CNET's report is true, Apple is making it a habit of losing iPhone prototypes before the launch of the device. Last year, Apple engineer Robert Gray Powell lost the prototype of iPhone 4 in a german beer garden in Redwood City, Calif. Last month, San Mateo County prosecutors filed misdemeanor criminal charges against Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, who found the prototype and sold it to tech blog Gizmodo for $5,000 instead of returning the device to Apple. Hogan and wallower have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Perhaps it is time for Apple to brush up its acts and the company appears to be headed in the right direction by listing job openings for product security managers, according to 9to5Mac.