A year ago, an iPhone 4 prototype was lost in a bar in Redwood City, Calif. and subsequently wound up in the hands of tech blog Gizmodo, which paid $5,000 for the device. Two men have been charged with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property.
This year the it the the next generation iPhone 5 supposed to be faster bigger and slimmer and the bar where it went missing is in San Francisco, a Mission District watering hole called Cava 22.
Apple developers have been given new iPhones with an upgraded processor — the one that is used in the iPad 2 and is expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone. But the device “is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it’s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone’s exterior,” a report at 9to5Mac.com says. Even last year’s prototype was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.
Last year’s prototype iPhone went missing when Robert Gray Powell, an Apple computer engineer who was 28 years old at the time, left it in a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif.
In early August, San Mateo County prosecutors filed misdemeanor criminal charges against two men, Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, for allegedly selling Powell’s iPhone 4 prototype to Gawker Media’s Gizmodo blog. Prosecutors obtained a warrant to search the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, and indicated they might prosecute Gizmodo, but eventually decided not to file charges.
Given the fact that it has all happened before it makes us wonder that can the world’s most secretive be breached or is it just an publicity stunt but Apple enjoys enough media attention already that it doesn’t need such stunts to raise the hype and iPhone 5 rumors is always in the news at least once a day of some reason.
We first learned earlier this week that an iPhone 5 prototype had either gone missing or been stolen at Cava 22. There was speculation that the device had been sold for $200 on Craigslist, though nobody seems to have corroborated that because the sale is thought to have occurred in July and Craigslist dumps old postings from its site after just a few days. By the time the media caught wind of the missing iPhone story in late August, any smoking gun on Craigslist would have been long gone.
On to the next twist. A San Francisco man was reportedly visited by six individuals searching for the iPhone 5 prototype sometime in July, we learned Friday. They searched 22-year-old Sergio Calderón’s home, car, and computer, Calderón told SF Weekly, and at first it wasn’t clear just who these people were.
Though Calderón said the searchers presented themselves as San Francisco police, SFPD initially said it had no record of such activity by any of its officers. Later on Friday, SFPD backtracked and said three or four plainclothes officers had accompanied two Apple security officials on the July visit to Calderón’s home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, where they didn’t find anything.
The SFPD released a statement regarding the search of Calderón’s home, and while it doesn’t specify that officers were looking for an iPhone 5 prototype, the Word document containing the statement was labeled “iphone5.doc.”
“After speaking with Apple representatives, we were given information which helped us determine what occurred,” the SFPD statement said. “It was discovered that Apple employees called Mission Police station directly, wanting assistance in tracking down a lost item. Apple had tracked the lost item to a house located in the 500 block of Anderson Street. Because the address was in the Ingleside Police district, Apple employees were referred to officers in the Ingleside district.”
“Four SFPD officers accompanied Apple employees to the Anderson Street home. The two Apple employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item,” the statement continued. “The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house. The Apple employees did not want to make an official report of the lost item.”
But wait, it gets better. An anonymous tipster emailed PCMag late Friday with an allegation that Calderón sold the prototype to a Fort Worth, Texas man, who paid for it via PayPal and had it shipped to his home via FedEx. We won’t name the individual who allegedly now has the prototype in his possession, because we haven’t been able to confirm that he actually has it.
We did track down a Fort Worth man with the name identified in the email from our tipster—or prankster, as the case may be. A brief correspondence with the alleged prototype buyer didn’t yield much, though he never denied having the phone, and on one email he signed off with “Sent from my iPhone 5.”