Print 30 comment(s) - last by eddieroolz.. on Apr 29 at 6:07 PM

  (Source: Gizmodo)
Wired apparently didn't think buying potentially stolen goods was a good idea

On March 28 reportedly received an unbelievable email claiming that a tipster had obtained a misplaced fourth generation iPhone.  According to the site, they entered a brief discussion about coverage on the device.  The discussion quickly terminated though when the source start hinting he wanted money. Wired declined to buy possibly stolen property and thus walked away from the year's biggest tech scoop.

Gizmodo on the other hand had took the bait.  Now, not long after police raided the home of a Gizmodo editor, police reportedly have located the seller as well.

A source close to the transaction is quoted by as claiming that the seller made an earnest effort to return the phone to Apple.  They claim they tried to contact Apple and searched for the iPhone user on Facebook, but couldn't find them.  

They claim the $5,000 "sale" described by 
Gizmodo was really merely for an exclusivity agreement, not the sale of the actual device.  Describes the source, "The idea wasn’t to find out who was going to pay the most, it was, Who’s going to confirm this?"

The finder is reportedly a college-aged Silicon Valley man.

If the search warrant against Chen is any indication, the man may soon face criminal charges.  Police obviously aren't buying the exclusivity fee claim, particularly after 
Gizmodo admitted in writing to buying the phone and numerous staffers at the site commented on the device's purchase, including site owner and Gawker President Nick Denton.

The police reason that if the finder wanted to return the phone, why didn't he just turn it in to police?  That, after all, is the legal approach if you discover something valuable that didn't belong to you.

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iPhone Thief?
By JWalk on 4/28/2010 10:22:07 AM , Rating: 5
I'm not trying to choose a side here, but isn't the title of this article kind of presumptuous? From what we know so far, Apple believes the phone may have been stolen, and the guy who sold it to Gizmodo swears he just found it. There is an on-going investigation, but to my knowledge no one has been convicted (or even arrested) of theft at this point. Maybe throwing the word "alleged" in that title might be a good idea?

RE: iPhone Thief?
By bupkus on 4/28/2010 11:11:31 AM , Rating: 5
All professional news organizations I'm aware of use the word "alleged" when describing pending charges or even charged individuals.

Need I say more?

RE: iPhone Thief?
By MonkeyPaw on 4/28/2010 6:00:18 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, they even use "alleged" when there's the most obvious evidence against them, like a security video.

The whole thing is ridiculous, if you ask me. I guess Apple just wants to make an example on this one to scare everyone away from this if it ever comes up again. What's funny is that Giz is quite a zealous Apple news site. I actually unsubscribed from their feed during their overwhelming article-per-minute iPad launch coverage. I guess Apple will bite any hand that gets close. You would have thought Google "stole" it.

RE: iPhone Thief?
By Elooder2 on 4/28/2010 12:40:36 PM , Rating: 3
If it was found and not literally stolen (from, for example, a pocket or a bag), then whoever "found" it should have gone directly to the police and let them deal with it. Certainly the police would be able to get to someone in Apple who knew about the phone and all would've been nice and well (and Apple would get no free publicity this time).
Instead, the person who found it CLAIMS to have attempted to return the thing (and in every single description of those attempts they sound at the very least half - hearted, meaning he obviously wasn't that anxious to return it or is making it up). There is no proof attempts to return it have actually been made, especially considering he could've simply dropped it off at a police station.
The whole thing is an obvious example of stupidity on the part of Gizmodo which may cost dearly both them and the "thief", all stemming from obvious lack of knowledge of the legal side of the whole thing in both of them.
Then again, what if there was no "Apple employee who left the phone at a bar" and all of this is a cleverly planned marketing trick by Apple themselves and the guy who purportedly lost it did it knowingly and on purpose? Wouldn't put that past them...

RE: iPhone Thief?
By invidious on 4/28/2010 12:51:26 PM , Rating: 5
Judged determine guilt, not Mick, not Apple, not you.

RE: iPhone Thief?
By invidious on 4/28/2010 12:52:13 PM , Rating: 3

My kingdom for an edit button.

RE: iPhone Thief?
By maugrimtr on 4/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: iPhone Thief?
By Dark Legion on 4/28/2010 4:08:00 PM , Rating: 2

And believe it or not, libel is not on there.

RE: iPhone Thief?
By Dark Legion on 4/28/2010 4:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
(not saying this case actually is, just pointing it out)

Just because its Apple? Big F-ing deal,
By chick0n on 4/28/2010 10:39:47 AM , Rating: 5
Wow, don't the cops got something better to do ? I mean wow for f's sake its just a f-ing Phone. they have to use all these manpower/resources to track 1 person down.

I don't see them work so hard to catch some "real" bad guys out there like Terrorist or some shit.

So what throw him in Jail for 10 years ? When my Credit card got stolen someone charged 10K to it. I reported to the cops, what happened now ? 2 years of course nothing.

Talked about FAILED America, EPIC y0

By bupkus on 4/28/2010 11:45:15 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is a powerhouse of tax revenue to the state of CA and certainly to its local municipalities.

Really, dude, did you expect otherwise?

By Elooder2 on 4/28/2010 12:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
They're investigating a possible crime. A shoplift is a crime. Pickpocketing is a crime. The police are there to prevent crime and catch criminals. The other agencies are there to prevent terrorism and the prevention of terrorism is not an activity that is ever done very openly because that would diminish its effectiveness (any open "prevention of terrorism" is mainly just for show and to calm the masses).
The whole thing has not much to do with Apple being "special" to the state of CA, but with the fact that a crime may have been committed. The police are just doing their job.

Oh, and I'm not American...

RE: Just because its Apple? Big F-ing deal,
By HefeRME on 4/28/2010 7:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
yeah.... it's just a phone... a phone that generates millions of dollars for Apple

RE: Just because its Apple? Big F-ing deal,
By mindless1 on 4/28/2010 8:19:12 PM , Rating: 1
... regardless of whether the phone was ever found, regardless of whether the person who allegedly took it was found, let alone convicted.

The answer is simple. If Apple doesn't want any prototypes out in the wild, plainly tell the staff that and prosecute the person who took it off the company property for theft, NOT someone who found it in a bar.

By eddieroolz on 4/29/2010 6:07:42 PM , Rating: 3
I suppose that you obviously did not read the original story where it said "a test engineer was testing the prototype in real-world environment"?

By mostyle on 4/28/2010 8:00:14 AM , Rating: 2
Okay I'm not trying to defend either party here but seriously.. If the guy really just 'found' the phone and did indeed exercise due diligence in trying to contact Apple to return the product I still don't understand where that diligence entitled him to transfer the property to another entity since it was never his thereby concluding that he had no power of transfer. Now with regards to Chen it would seem logical that there was indeed some communication between he and the finder with regards to terms of the exchange. If the whole spin about the $5k being a fee to ensure the alleged exclusivity is true then I think Chen would hold little culpability in the matter. This however does seem like a gray area since unless implicitly documented prior to the whole thing coming to light it would be hard to validate this (at least with a straight face) to anyone with half a clue. Wait... That means it could be validated to our judicial system.


RE: Theft
By bupkus on 4/28/2010 11:35:20 AM , Rating: 4
I have hesitated to comment on the "finder" because I really didn't feel comfortable supporting any assignment of innocence to his cause. As bits of information accumulate I feel even less likely to do so.

I believe we, each of us, encounter a time when we're faced with an opportunity to make a tough decision which may benefit us in a material way or help another person recover something of value. It comes to a moment of decision where we reveal to ourselves what we are made of. Often times we may surprise ourselves in our choices. I will relate a story.

I was at happy hour at a bar across the street from the Biltmore Fashion Square in Scottdale, AZ. This area is often frequented by employees of the encircling investment firms. I was their for a cheap burger and fries as my own finances were not so good and led to a booth by the receptionist. When I sat I noticed next to me was an expensive looking wallet. I looked and thought and thought and called the waitress over and handed her the wallet without even opening it to look inside. I swear to God I didn't want to see whatever money was inside as I was afraid of the temptation. She took the wallet, ran outside and gave it to her previous clients, one of which looked surprised as he apparently hadn't noticed it was lost.

The "finder" of the phone could have simply handed it to the owner of the establishment as that would have been the easiest solution for himself, but his instinct was a profit motive and that was a mistake. I doubt the $5000 he gained, even if he were allowed to keep it, which he won't, would even begin to cover his legal fees.

AS for the blogger dude, lots of luck. You'll need it. At the very least, you're gonna be paying some serious legal fees.

RE: Theft
By HalJordan on 4/28/2010 4:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. The first, easiest, and most practical approach when finding any stray item is to hand it over the owners, manager, waitress, etc... I'm guessing 99% of the time the owner is going to come back and ask about their errant property. Lets give "finder" the benefit of the doubt, say he didn't' trust the bartender to not pocket the phone, and he did call Apple. Apple gives the guy the runaround, so the next step is to hand it over to the authorities. If the finder doesn't trust the cops, he could always ship it back to Cupertino himself for about 5 bucks. My point is that there were many options available to the guy before going to the press. I honestly feel he knew the importance of the prototype, attempted a half-hearted effort to return it to Apple, and then immediately went looking to get paid.

RE: Theft
By tmouse on 4/29/2010 8:33:57 AM , Rating: 3
The police have some case against the seller but then again it has some weaknesses. There is no requirement to give something to the police or the owner of an establishment but you then assume all the responsibility so it is the wisest choice. There is also no crime in not doing so thinking you could get a reward for its return (although you cannot demand one). You do not have to place any ads if you have an idea who owns the device but you should make sure you can document your efforts to contact them. The problem he has is when (if) Apple told him it was not theirs he should have placed an ad and waited since presumably he now does not know the owner. He certainly made a serious mistake in selling the item since it put him in the place of depriving the owner of their property. Although not a valuable if he waited a year after placing the ads he still would have had a collector's item that would be valuable and legally his (provided Apple is not saying it was obtained by pick pocketing) and here again any contact initiated by him to Apple would pretty much destroy that case.

Gizmodo will probably be paying nothing, the EFF will more than likely do this for free. The police have NO case and I believe the search will be declared illegal and possibly open the police and the city to a lawsuit. To prove receivership of stolen goods they have to PROVE either Gizmodo paid the guy to get the item in question, or had knowledge the item was stolen AND real and they planned to permanently deprive Apple of the item (this if KEY in a receiving of stolen goods case). It's perfectly legal to buy something and lose your money by returning it to the owner. All Gizmodo has to do is say they were not 100% sure it was even real and that they planned to return it to Apple if it was and the police have to PROVE they did not think that way (pretty hard to do beyond a reasonable doubt). They have already documented that once they got the item and determined it was in fact real they initiated contacted with Apple. Now I'm not sure of this but I believe the item was sent directly back to Apple by their request (they did not send the police to pick it up), IF that happened the seller may even get a pass because now the phone itself is totally inadmissible as evidence since the chain of custody has been broken. The police have to get it from Gizmodo directly to connect it with the seller and Apple cannot get it back until either the criminal investigation is dropped or the trials are over. It is supposed to be evidence but now I cannot see it being allowed.

IF it goes to any trial it will be interesting since any competent defense will request ALL of Apples internal e-mails and their phone records from the period in question and they will totally grill the employee about this "theft" that could answer questions about the incredible timing of the release of this story. If this case just gets dropped then there should be some form of investigation to determine if Apple used the police to intimidate the press. This sets a BAD precedent; if it goes unchallenged then expect the police to use the excuse of "a felony has been committed " to size any news agencies records and that would be worse for all of us in the long run.

I don't know the law in cali
By NullSubroutine on 4/28/2010 9:40:23 AM , Rating: 4
I used to be a police dispatch in another state, and at least in that state, you was never required by law to turn found property into the police.

I took many calls that someone had found some property, we took a report of what was found, and contact information of the person who found it. We would ask if they wanted the owner of lost property to contact them directly (giving out their info) or if we should contact them should the owner contact us.

With exception to wallets, purses, and sometimes phones we did not often take possession of property. Not only did we not have inventory space to hold everyone's lost/abandoned property, but it is a liability for the police office and individual officers.

RE: I don't know the law in cali
By mindless1 on 4/28/2010 8:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you. So many on DailyTech seem to have assumed the person finding an item is automatically under some legal obligation to give it to someone else when it is often not true.

They don't even make the distinction that giving an item to someone else is not a guarantee of it returning to the rightful owner. Certainly it is the "right thing to do" to reunite an owner with their property but so often people imply morality is legality (until it benefits them personally to declare otherwise).

By Elooder2 on 4/28/2010 7:56:01 AM , Rating: 5
...seem to have behaved very stupidly here. I mean, how could anyone in their right mind actually STATE the amount they paid their source for an Apple device KNOWING what Apple's like about their unreleased stuff (and secrecy in general). It seems weird, in light of their behavior, that they didn't write out the name and address of the guy who sold it to them just after writing out the amount they paid.
Had they not mentioned any money being paid by them for the device, the police or whoever would have a much harder time finding on what charges to prosecute them if at all, let alone finding evidence of "stolen" property being sold to them... Idiots, in short...

By smackababy on 4/28/2010 8:52:25 AM , Rating: 5
Too bad this happened in America. There could have just been some "suicides" and the story would have been over.

The right thing?
By Chaser on 4/28/2010 8:41:30 AM , Rating: 2
What if Gizmodo had acquired the phone -even for $5000.00- and then quietly returned it to Apple without exposes and Youtube videos? I have a feeling that Apple, out of gratitude for their defunct, drunken engineer's irresponsible actions, would have shown Gizmodo some appreciation with exclusive reviews ahead of everyone else or some other tokens of gratitude since Gizmodo is one of several recognized gadget tech review sites. As it stands now Gizmodo, although not a criminal offense I don't think, acted underhandedly to get a "scoop" and they may end up paying for it.

RE: The right thing?
By Keeir on 4/28/2010 2:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
Umm... Chaser

Given Apple's reputation, I wouldn't have "quietly" turned the phone back into them. That almost seems like an invitation to be visited late one night.

But seriously no, Apple is not really known to be kind to anyone with advanced knowledge of this product, nor would they be willing to grant any favours.

Gizmodo did nothing underhanded. Unless you think Spy shots of automobiles, airplanes, etc are also "underhanded". Nor did the person finding the phone or Gizmodo do what was likely the most profitable, least risky, and quite frankly also the most criminal act.... contact Motorola, Samsung, etc to sell the prototype.

By EyesWideOpen on 4/28/2010 12:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
Many years ago in an un-named university, I found a large amount of cash in a bank envelope on a sidewalk. Being a good law abiding citizen I turned the cash in to the nearest university police office. The university police held me for over 2 hours questioning me like I had stolen the cash until the actual owner showed up looking for the money, and verified that all of the money was there and that they had walked on the sidewalk where I had found it. Turing the iPhone over to the police might seem like the right thing to do; but the consequences might be different if the idiot who lost it claims it was stolen.

You have to prove it's theft!
By Fred242 on 4/28/2010 1:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure if the the law is the same in the US as in the UK, but theft here is defined as taking something without the owner's permission with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of its use. This is why there has to be a separate law for joyriding because it's hard to prove the intent to permanently deprive the car owner, so it's not theft. By taking the phone to gizmodo, he knew it would go back to Apple, hence it's not theft.

By funkyd99 on 4/28/2010 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
1.) Take a boatload of pictures of the phone before Apple remotely bricks it.
2.) Take some more pictures, just be safe.
3.) Return the phone to the bar the next morning.
4.) Pay for some webspace, put up a blog with ad support, Digg/Facebook/Twitter/whore the blog out to the media and milk it for all it's worth.
5.) Comply with Apple's cease and desist letter a few days later, and buy something fancy with your nice chunk of ad revenue.

This all assumes the "thief" mistook the phone as his own when he left, which is entirely possible given the generic case the phone was housed in. I'd like to see charges for "taking pictures of accidental stolen property which you promptly returned."

Holy loaded wording, batman
By ZachDontScare on 4/28/2010 3:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
'Thief' is an awfully strong term for someone who found a lost phone and tried to return it.

I dont know what the police think they are doing wasting their time with this. Apple has the phone back. If they want to build a case for buying 'stolen' merchandise (ignoring for a moment that its not stolen), all they needed was to ask gizmodo if they bought the phone. Police raids, confiscating equipment... thats f'ing rediculous.

By AssBall on 4/28/10, Rating: -1
"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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