Thieves steal more than $370,000 worth of new iPhones from UPS truck in San Francisco

“Well, that’s one way to skip the iPhone lines,” Ian Sherr and Shara Tibken report for CNET. “Three ‘husky’ men in hoodies driving a white Dodge van broke into a UPS truck Wednesday while it was parked outside a San Francisco Apple Store.”

“It was delivering 313 of Apple’s new iPhone X devices, according to a police report. The theft happened between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. PT,” Sherr and Tibken report. “The total value of the stolen merchandise was estimated to be more than $370,000. The iPhone X, which becomes available in stores Friday, starts at $999 apiece. The suspects haven’t yet been caught.”

“Each phone was cataloged with a description and serial number, which meant the police report was one of the ‘fattest’ Sgt. Paul Weggenmann had ever seen, he said,” Sherr and Tibken report. “Stealing iPhones has long been a lucrative business, but Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ and remote lockout feature have caused a drop in stolen devices. For enterprising thieves, the key is getting an iPhone before those services have been set up.”

“The UPS driver had locked the cargo area after parking outside the Stonestown Galleria mall in the southwest Lakeside neighborhood of San Francisco, according to the police report,” Sherr and Tibken report. “A janitor spotted the suspects unloading boxes from the UPS truck and into a Dodge van and snapped a photo.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Which leads us think that maybe the whole “Follow My Delivery” thing is a bad idea, UPS.

Using UPS’s beta “Follow My Delivery” tool, we know where the UPS trucks with our iPhone X units are right now. We’re watching them move around on the map. (Get here, will ya?!) We assume there are more iPhone X units besides ours inside each truck. The locations of the trucks, especially on iPhone X delivery day, is probably not information that should be in the wrong hands.

Hopefully, UPS is delaying/approximating the location data so the trucks are never actually exactly where they appear on the map in real time.


  1. “We know where the UPS trucks with our iPhone X units are right now. We’re watching them move around on the map”.
    Does this mean Apple is going to recover the lost iPhone X back anytime soon?.

  2. If not already in place, Apple should have a serial number check on all cell phone activations, through all their carriers – to check for stolen/black-listed serial numbers. This database check should happen whenever a SIM card is placed or replaced in an iPhone. The process might face a chicken-or-egg problem of an inability to check the database until after activation. Maybe it is the first (and hidden) step in setting up the iPhone. If the Phone being set up matches the serial number of a stolen unit, the Phone could be bricked or be (hidden) GPS tracked and its location sent to the police. Obviously, care would need to be needed in the design of the code, so that a hacker could not maliciously activate and takeover this process. I am sure that Apple could figure this out.

    1. Yes one would hope a simple serial number check would greet those who buy a hot phone with “This is a stolen iPhone. You will not be able to log in or use this device. Please return or ship back to an local Apple Store.” In this day and age this kind of theft just shouldn’t be possible or rewarded. People who buy hot merchandise should be likewise informed before buying the item will be useless to them.

      This happened to me with a granddaughter’s iPod Touch. It was sold to a kid who didn’t know this and was greeted with my own message about it being stolen and my phone number to call. I still had to pay this kid the money he had spent to the thief get it back which was still cheaper than buying a new one

      Lesson is “if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

      1. Actually, if someone in possession of stolen property demands any payment whatsoever to return it to you, that is itself a crime. It’s still your property; if once they know it’s stolen they refuse to return it immediately, they are just as guilty as the person who first stole it.

  3. I’m a little surprised this didn’t start many years ago. Everyone with any interest knows apple’s delivery day for new phones. Today should be a huge day for package theft from trucks to doors. I’m glad it hasn’t become a huge thing, but let’s not get too comfortable.

  4. Apple knows all the serial numbers so the minute those phones are activated they will be able to find them. The phones will need to be hacked and probably sold outside of the US for Apple to be unable to brick them.

    1. It sounds like the thieves wore clothing to reduce the chance their faces would be seen. What were you hoping for? Dumb thieves? I mean, that often happens, but it sounds like these ones were a bit more skilled.
      I wonder if they got the license plates on the van.

  5. If Apple is able to prevent these from being normally activated, that’s a bummer for whomever buys them “new in box.” They’ll look identical to other iPhone Xs, and will presumably be sold at similar prices. And you can’t exactly ask to open up the box and have the seller verify that it can be activated before you fork over the cash.

    1. If you buy your iPhones through Apple or a cellular vendor, then you don’t have to worry. If you try to nab a new iPhone X off of Ebay or a husky guy on a street corner, then you are taking a chance. Just don’t start whining if you end up losing your money.

    2. Actually, if you’re not buying it from an authorized reseller or from Apple, that’s EXACTLY what you should demand. If they can’t demonstrate that it’s not “hot,” it probably is.

  6. I have heard on a consumer show that some people are having problems getting a certain company to honor the warranty if moisture got into their their water resistant non iPhones. (No experience of this myself, it’s what I heard reported.) Perhaps in a fit of desperation, they chose a life of crime over continuing to fuss with a non-iPhone phone?

  7. UPS’s “Follow my delivery” isn’t the problem. I’m using the service right now as my new iPhone gets close to actual delivery. Most experienced thieves aren’t looking for an iPhone or two. They DO know the UPS truck at an Apple store on launch day probably has many new iPhones. Smart until they were stupid. Feel really bad for the people in line at that store.

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