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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SFPD Launches 'Internal Investigation' into Controversial Search for Missing iPhone 5

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

click to enlarge apple_police_badge.jpg

It appears that the police officers and Apple security employees who stoked a tech-industry scandal with their controversial search for a lost device rumored to be the unreleased iPhone 5 will themselves be the object of law-enforcement scrutiny.

The San Francisco Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the events surrounding the search by plainclothes SFPD officers and Apple private investigators for the lost iPhone prototype, SF Weekly has learned.

The tech-news site CNET

reported last week, based on an anonymous source, that an Apple

employee had lost a model of the unreleased iPhone 5 at the San Francisco restaurant

Cava 22, and that San Francisco police and Apple employees had subsequently tracked the phone using GPS to the home of a Bernal Heights man.

When we followed up with police to fill some of the holes in the story, the SFPD initially said no records of any such activity

by its officers existed. Soon afterward, however, we interviewed Sergio

Calderón, who said it was his home that was searched. Calderón said six

officials claiming to be SFPD showed up at his door, and two of them

searched his house.

We traced the phone number of one of the investigators, which Calderón shared with us, to a senior security official at Apple, Anthony Colon. After we reported on Calderón's story, the SFPD conferred with Apple and told us that four plainclothes police officers had, in fact, accompanied two Apple investigators to the house, then waited outside while the Apple employees searched Calderón's house, car, and computer for the phone, which was never found.

The incident has raised questions about police collusion with Apple, particularly since no official record of the incident was made by the officers involved. Questions also persist about whether Apple employees might have misrepresented themselves as police officers, which is a crime in California, as in most states.

While the two private investigators never explicitly said they were SFPD, Calderón says they also never told him they were Apple employees. According to his version of events, they were part of a group that showed up at his doorstep, one of whom announced that they were San Francisco police officers. He said he would not have let the Apple security officers search his home if he knew they were not police.

"When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD," Calderón told SF Weekly last week. "I thought they were SFPD. That's why I let them in."

Over the weekend Calderón told us he was informed that SFPD officers would be coming to "question" him about the controversial search. SFPD spokesman Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield confirmed today that the actions of police officers and Apple employees are now "under investigation."

"It's an internal investigation," Dangerfield said. While he would not disclose what potential offenses were being investigated, he said, "You read all of the allegations, so it would not be doing due diligence to not investigate."

Dangerfield would not disclose the names of the SFPD officers involved in the search because the matter is under investigation.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

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Peter Jamison

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