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  • Apple Has User's Stolen Phone, Won't Give It Back


    A Consumerist reader named "Alisa" was on a subway in Brooklyn, New York before Christmas when a thief stole several pieces of personal property, including her iPhone. She didn't go to the police, she says, because she would have had to take the same subway to a precinct over an hour away. On a cold night, she’d have had to go through books of pictures trying to identify the thief even though she didn’t get a good look at him. It all seemed too big of a hassle to her, since she had a final exam the next day anyway, so she didn’t file the police report.

    Alisa went out and bought a Blackberry and moved on with her life. But right before the New Year, she suddenly received some unexpected news that led her to believe she might see her iPhone again, when she got an e-mail from Apple.

    Anyways, fast forward to yesterday when I get a email from Apple that someone had filed a request for a replacement phone due to a software malfunction from Apple CareService. I suspected that since I made an appointment with an Apple genius before, the Serial number on the phone was associated with my email. I called Apple to confirm this, after Apple and AT&T transferred me back and forth a few times I had the confirmation from the two companies the phone was mine , I had the address the service request was coming from (in the email) and a phone number (from an Apple rep).

    I’m so excited that I can get my phone back! Until the cops arrive at my house, they tell me that since I didn’t file a police report they can’t do anything.
    The New York City police do get involved in trying to help resolve the situation, though, and spend what appears to be quite a lot of time on the phone with Apple and AT&T corroborating her story. However, Apple sticks to their original response and insist that they're going to send the iPhone back to the person who requested the service.

    The officer spends about an hour on the phone with Apple telling them that once the current holder of the phone ships the phone back to Apple, they should ship me the replacement. He gets the same answer I got–they will not do anything, they do not care that the person who has the phone currently is using a stolen phone and is not using it with AT&T (AT&T confirmed the phone # I got from the Apple rep is NOT an AT&T number).
    It's completely understandable that the theft victim is frustrated and even outraged. However, it's difficult to fault Apple in this situation, as it seems like they'd have a hard time proving that Alisa's story is true. It does seem maddening, though: you get your phone stolen and the thief (or the guy who bought it from the thief) is getting warranty service on your purchase.

    image via thenextweb
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Has User's Stolen Phone, Won't Give It Back started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 45 Comments
    1. mactwisted's Avatar
      mactwisted -
      My MacBook Pro was stolen in June '09. I filed a police report, called insurance company, reported it with paypal, hired an attorney, filed a report with police in the thiefs jurisdiction and documented and provided documentation to all concerned authorities. the shipping company intercepted the computer on it's way to Africa, apple called me to confirm the computer is mine. I confirmed. the computer is stolen. Apple won't give the computer back and claims it's a police matter and that I have to talk to the police. Ain't that a kick in the head?
    1. Bernie-Mac's Avatar
      Bernie-Mac -
      Quote Originally Posted by Acostanavy View Post
      My 2 cents: If you find something that is not yours and you make no intention to try to return it you are STEALING.
      Duh
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      That serves her right! Apple is in the right and it is a lesson to secure your iPhone!
    1. Apple Repair New Orleans's Avatar
      Apple Repair New Orleans -
      Hello,

      I have had great success recovering stolen iPhones- with and without the help of police. In fact, it's a service I offer my clients. The psychology of how the police work, how Apple works and how a thief works is omnipotent to a successful recovery. First things first.

      1. Law enforcement relies on evidence.
      They are not going to work off your word. It's important keep multiple photographs of your equipment, proof of purchase, serial numbers and electronic evidence. If you haven't done this and your phone has been stolen, now is the time to safeguard the rest of your property because it applies to all theft.

      2. File a police report. It's best to do this immediately at the scene of the crime. If you call the police from your residence, it may take them a few hours or more to get there. Be sure to record the police report number.

      3. Not all cops are the same. What you have to do is provide the police with enough undeniable evidence they can work with. Depending certain factors such as their workload, experience and available time, they may or may not care about your iPhone. Your job is to get them in your corner. If you can't get the proper help you need, call the police again. Walk in to the police station, talk to the Sargent. Be sure to tell them your iPhone is worth over $400- that way it's Grand Theft.


      WITHOUT THE COPS:

      1. In a similar case to this, where Apple refused to ship us the iPhone and insisted on sending it back to the address it came from, I casually walked into the Apple store, inquired about the status of my repair. They said it was incomplete, but I insisted they give it back to me and they did. I analized the sim card and determined the thief worked with the victim, reported him to management and was terminated.

      2. Another case I had a client who lost an iPhone at a park. Instead of canceling the service, we just let him make unlimited calls. We tracked his calls online. One specific phone number in Honduras kept popping up. I speak a little Spanish I called them. After a few seconds, I could tell it was his family and casually told them there was an emergency and asked if they knew anyone working in the US. They gave me his address. I showed up wearing a black suit at an apartment that housed several Latino construction workers and showed them a picture of the iPhone. A guy brought it out, gave it back to me and apologized, swearing that he found it and to "not call policia".


      Just be prepared to do some leg work- the police can only do so much.
    1. ecd5000's Avatar
      ecd5000 -
      That is pretty dirty, they know it's her phone and someone else registers it. Good job apple
    1. Apple Repair New Orleans's Avatar
      Apple Repair New Orleans -
      Quote Originally Posted by ecd5000 View Post
      That is pretty dirty, they know it's her phone and someone else registers it. Good job apple
      They don't know she didn't sell it or lose it. Think about it.

      I could go file a police report that my iPhone was stolen. Then have my friend sell it to you on Craigslist or whatever. Then call the cops on you. I get it back and sell it again. The guy loses it and someone else finds it. That guy sells it etc...

      Quote Originally Posted by reaves205 View Post
      Isn't there a law about buying and receiving stolen property?
      Yes, but it's difficult to enforce because it's hard to know if it's stolen. And if it's worth less than $400, nobody cares.

      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      I got robbed 6 days before Christmas while out of town visiting family a few years ago. You have to have a police report to get anything done. She failed to do this so while I sympathize with her, she failed to do what was necessary. Rules are in place for a reason. She failed to follow them, so tough luck. I got nowhere with my police report because the cops where I lived were worthless. Not to mention that 4 houses in that neighborhood got completely cleaned out. The only thing that wasn't stolen in those houses was the carpet, every single thing was taken.
      Personal robbery is a "specific intent crime", completely different story. The cops will circle the neighborhood trying to find a robber, but not a phone stolen off a counter top while you weren't looking. Victims of robbery usually see the robber in the act.
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      I got my iPhone stolen at the gym. It's was the original iPhone that I payed $600 for it. I know how she felt. Just move on, that's what I did. To all the low life out there, Leave other people **** alone.
    1. willie498's Avatar
      willie498 -
      In my opinion, they could at least send her a replacement or like a refurb one for like $99 or something so that she can backup her data.
    1. shadow25's Avatar
      shadow25 -
      Sounds WAY too sketchy

      She has a $500+ iPhone stolen, yet doesn't have the time to cover her *** by filing a police report?

      Yeah, right..

      Sounds to me like she sold it to get a new blackberry, didn't like the blackberry and saw that her old iPhone was going in for repair. She then comes up with the BRILLIANT idea to say it was stolen to try and get her phone back without having to repay what she spent on the blackberry.

      If she had a police report, the it'd be different, but she doesn't, so AFAIK, it's either not stolen, or doesn't mean enough for her to care.

      I've reported everything I've had stolen to the Police Dept. Never got anything back, but I took the time so if they were ever found, they could be returned to the rightful owner.
    1. dazza's Avatar
      dazza -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      Surely if your phone is stolen the first thing you do is report it stolen in order to cancel the contract?
      In The UK this would also get the phone blocked so no one else could use it.
      Thats what I thought - is the process different in the states?

      I once did something silly by buying a Samsung T100 (shows how long ago) off a mate who then claimed he'd lost it in the pub and claimed on his orange insurance - result my new phone was blacklisted - un useable (for a while anyway )
    1. NakedFaerie's Avatar
      NakedFaerie -
      Quote Originally Posted by khiphone3g View Post
      Yes she should have filed a police report, at least call 911 to report it. That is what I did. After you called 911 even if you can't make it to the police station, an officier will call you and get a full report and give you everything you need for future reference.
      HAHAHAHA

      She had her phone stolen so how is she suppose to call 911? LOL
    1. shadow25's Avatar
      shadow25 -
      Quote Originally Posted by NakedFaerie View Post
      HAHAHAHA

      She had her phone stolen so how is she suppose to call 911? LOL
      Wow..

      Are you ******* serious?

      Everyone has just ONE cell phone and there is absolutely NO WAY she could use another person's phone or *gasp* use a pay phone?..

      I think she would've wanted to spend the extra $0.50 to report a theft if thats what actually happened.

      Maybe she had an ancient technology at home... Whats that called again? oh yeah, a LANDLINE!

      She made it to a store to pick out a shiny new blackberry. Maybe ask an employee to use a phone to report the theft?

      Maybe even using her REPLACEMENT cell phone, she could've called in.

      God damn, its like rocket science to figure out how to use another phone.

      She could've filed a Police Report ANYTIME, but she chose not to. She's throwing a fit now because Apple won't give her an iPhone that was "stolen" even though she did not even report it.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lukster View Post
      Who cares about a police report.. If you bought something from me and didnt get a reciept or bill of sale, witness etc.. ( even handshacks are a verbale contract with evidence)... Otherwise you just became vulnerable. Police Reports don't mean @#%$@#%!$, since they are only good for when that phone ends up in the confiscated items room, " usually of the reported county only". Ever heard of propertyroom.com... yeh hard working police officers working hard to serve you, 'stolen goods'. As for apple and carriers, OMG... they want you to buy another phone. Regardless of the evidence, and that both phone companies & carriers have plenty of evidence, its not worth the resources to add a loss prevention deprt that does man hunts for $400 phones when half the stolen phones either are not stolen or are due to being a pure !@#$%#.

      Just please stop fooling yourselves that police reports are why apple wont give a phone over. To apple, It better business. If you dont like it.. dont get jacked.
      You have no idea what your talking about lol! It's not "better business" for Apple to not get her phone back to her, it's called being smart and sticking to what they've said. If they drop their defenses now for one person they'll end up doing it for others who'll claim that, "they've done it for someone else in the past so why not them too?". That's how companies lose money, so Apple is being smart by sticking to their policy.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Quote Originally Posted by NakedFaerie View Post
      HAHAHAHA

      She had her phone stolen so how is she suppose to call 911? LOL
    1. dogger's Avatar
      dogger -
      If you have the theif's address, just go into their house and open up a can! ... or at least steal back your phone.

      she should have used "find my iPhone" on mobileMe right away, if she had that feature. It's saved MY *** before!
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      I would use find my phone and show up to the location ready for war
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      I would just report the loss, claim off my insurance and let them go after the thief.
      But then I like an easy life.
    1. Crigger540's Avatar
      Crigger540 -
      Quote Originally Posted by shadow25 View Post
      Wow..

      Are you ******* serious?

      Everyone has just ONE cell phone and there is absolutely NO WAY she could use another person's phone or *gasp* use a pay phone?..

      I think she would've wanted to spend the extra $0.50 to report a theft if thats what actually happened.

      Maybe she had an ancient technology at home... Whats that called again? oh yeah, a LANDLINE!

      She made it to a store to pick out a shiny new blackberry. Maybe ask an employee to use a phone to report the theft?

      Maybe even using her REPLACEMENT cell phone, she could've called in.

      God damn, its like rocket science to figure out how to use another phone.

      She could've filed a Police Report ANYTIME, but she chose not to. She's throwing a fit now because Apple won't give her an iPhone that was "stolen" even though she did not even report it.
      its the "I don't get the joke guy"
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      this is a hard one to call... overall i think apple should turn it over though...
    1. Mira30's Avatar
      Mira30 -
      When will Apple or AT&T do something good for their customers!