Police probe how lost next-gen Apple iPhone prototype ended up being purchased by Gizmodo

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Silicon Valley police are investigating what appears to be a lost Apple iPhone prototype purchased by a gadget blog, a transaction that may have violated criminal laws, a law enforcement official told CNET on Friday,” Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh report for CNET.

“Apple has spoken to local police about the incident and the investigation is believed to be headed by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, the source said,” Sandoval and McCullagh report. “Apple’s Cupertino headquarters is in Santa Clara County, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.”

“Editors at Gizmodo.com, part of Gawker Media’s blog network, said in an article posted Monday that they paid $5,000 for what they believed to be a prototype of an impending iPhone 4G,” Sandoval and McCullagh report. “The story said the phone was accidentally left at a bar in Redwood City, Calif., last month by an Apple software engineer and found by someone who contacted Gizmodo, which had previously indicated it was willing to pay significant sums for unreleased Apple products.”

“The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to file criminal charges,” Sandoval and McCullagh report. “Late Friday, Bloomberg reported that it spoke to Gaby Darbyshire, Gawker’s chief operating officer, and she said that law enforcement officials had not spoken with anyone at the company.”

Sandoval and McCullagh report, “Under a California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be but “appropriates such property to his own use” is guilty of theft. If the value of the property exceeds $400, more serious charges of grand theft can be filed. In addition, a second state law says that any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TheConfuzed1” for the heads up.]

92 Comments

  1. The police are covering Apple’s butt by doing their job. No need to sue Gawker Media or the thief. No angry blogger backlash towards evil Apple.

    It’s a win/win outcome no matter what the police conclude.

  2. @ Deepdish–

    Do you really think that would hurt them?

    In that scenario, Gizmodo wins.

    Think of all the publicity they’re getting out of this!

    That has brought millions of people to their website, which is how they make money.

  3. Throw the thieves in jail and take all their money, as much as possible. Maybe that will make others think twice about stealing my favorite company’s secrets. While we’re rounding people up, throw everyone in Google in jail too.

  4. My dear Apple fan friends. What would you have done? Would you have gotten in touch with Gizmodo or any of those rumor sites? Would you have turned the device in to the police or lost and found? – I think I would have contacted Apple directly. I think Apple would have been appreciative.

  5. Gizmodo is in wrong, probably criminally, but I really don’t think Apple should persue it. They got plenty of positive press regarding the device, but this could end up as negative press ala Goliath vs. David. My 2 cents.

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