– Lost iPhone 5 Update: Police ‘Assisted’ Apple Investigators in Search of SF Man’s Home (San Francisco News, Sep. 2 2011):
The bizarre saga involving a lost prototype of the iPhone 5 has taken another interesting turn. Contradicting past statements that no records exist of police involvement in the search for the lost prototype, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield now tells SF Weekly that “three or four” SFPD officers accompanied two Apple security officials in an unusual search of a Bernal Heights man’s home.
Dangerfield says that, after conferring with Apple and the captain of the Ingleside police station, he has learned that plainclothes SFPD officers went with private Apple detectives to the home of Sergio Calderón, a 22-year-old resident of Bernal Heights. According to Dangerfield, the officers “did not go inside the house,” but stood outside while the Apple employees scoured Calderón’s home, car, and computer files for any trace of the lost iPhone 5. The phone was not found, and Calderón denies that he ever possessed it.
In an interview with SF Weekly last night, Calderón told us that six badge-wearing visitors came to his home in July to inquire about the phone. Calderón said none of them acknowledged being employed by Apple, and one of them offered him $300, and a promise that the owner of the phone would not press charges, if he would return the device.
The visitors also allegedly threatened him and his family, asking questions about their immigration status. “One of the officers is like, ‘Is everyone in this house an American citizen?’ They said we were all going to get into trouble,” Calderón said.
One of the officers left a phone number with him, which SF Weekly traced to Anthony Colon, an investigator employed at Apple, who declined to comment when we reached him.
Reached this afternoon, Calderón confirmed that only two of the six people who came to his home actually entered the house. He said those two did not specifically state they were police officers.
However, he said he was under the impression that they were all police, since they were part of the group outside that identified themselves as SFPD officials. The two who entered the house did not disclose that they were private security officers, according to Calderón.
“When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD,” Calderón said. “I thought they were SFPD. That’s why I let them in.” He said he would not have permitted the search if he had been aware the two people conducting it were not actually police officers.
It remains unclear whether these actions might constitute impersonation of a police officer, which in California is a misdemeanor that can bring up to a year of jail time. Apple has not responded to our requests for comment. “I don’t have any indication of that. I’m not going to go there,” Dangerfield said, when asked about whether the Apple detectives might have misrepresented themselves.
Dangerfield said he plans to contact Calderón to ask further questions about the incident.
At the least, the incident is sure to raise questions about the propriety of multiple SFPD officers helping private detectives conduct a search — which was never properly recorded, per standard police operating procedure — of somebody’s home. “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.”
Dangerfield said he was not aware of whether it was a San Francisco police officer or one of the Apple security officers who first knocked on Calderón’s door. “Anyone has a right to keep people from their homes if they don’t want them there, legally,” Dangerfield said.
It is also unclear why records of SFPD officers’ involvement did not emerge until now. Yesterday SFPD spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said that “we don’t have any record of such an investigation going on at this point.” The tech-news site CNET first reported on the lost phone prototype earlier this week.