Updated 6:42 a.m. ET, Sept. 3
The mysterious case of the second lost iPhone prototype has taken another disturbing twist.
San Francisco police have admitted that “three or four” of their officers stood outside a man’s house as up to two Apple investigators searched the home for the phone, finding nothing, but embroiling Apple in a potentially messy legal snafu, SF Weekly originally reported.
The admission comes after a police spokesperson previously told SF Weekly that “that no records of any such activity by SFPD officers existed, as they should if police had been involved in a home visit and search,” which would seem to mean that officers failed to report the search to their own department.
The blog had previously theorized that Apple employees had impersonated police officers to gain access to the home in their search for what CNET originally reported was a new prototype iPhone, lost by an Apple employee at a bar in the Mission District.
Apple apparently remotely tracked the device to a home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood and sent its own team of investigators there along with police officers.
The homeowner, 22-year-old Sergio Calderon, admitted that he was at the bar where the phone was lost, but said he had no knowledge of the missing phone.
Calderon initially told the SF Weekly that six people wearing badges and identifying themselves as San Francisco police officers searched his home one evening in July, rifled through his belongings and computer and “threatened” him over the missing phone. He later clarified that only two people entered his home and that they “did not specifically state they were police officers.”
The intruders also inquired if everyone living in his house - multiple family members of different generations - was an American citizen. Calderon told SF Weekly all occupants of his house are in the U.S. legally.
One of the search team, a man who went by the name “Tony,” provided Caldeon with his phone number, which SF Weekly called, speaking to Anthony Colon, a former San Jose police officer who said he now works at Apple as a “senior investigator” and declined to comment further.
We’ve contacted the San Francisco Police and Apple and will update when we receive comment.
Late Update: San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield has released the following statement via email explaining what occurred according to the SFPD:
“After speaking with Apple representatives, we were given information which helped us determine what occurred. 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 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.”
Obviously, the statement doesn’t clarify much at all of anything, aside from the fact that it appears that the search did occur in Bernal Heights as originally reported, as the Ingleside police station’s area includes that neighborhood.
But it remains to be established exactly why SFPD officers didn’t file an official report and why the department allowed them to escort Apple’s private investigators on a search of a man’s home.
And also, more troublingly, it raises the question of whether SFPD has assisted Apple before, off-the-books, how many times, and in what capacities. We’ve reached back out to SFPD with these questions and will update again when they respond.