Apparently under pressure to put Christmas presents under their trees, criminals in four states have targeted Apple stores for nighttime burglaries, taking laptops, iPhones, iPads and iPods. The burglaries are in addition to several shoplifting incidents and one customer robbery reported since Thanksgiving. The fourth in a series of burglaries was reported at 2:50 a.m. this morning at the Greenwich Avenue (Conn.) store, where five suspects broke one of the left-side doors, entered and made off with display table products. The Shadyside (Penn.) store was similarly burglarized on November 22nd about 2 a.m. Then the Tice’s Corner (NJ) store was hit with a 2 a.m. door smash on December 6th, and the University Town Center (S. Calif.) store was hit by two burglars at about 6:15 a.m. on December 9th. An Apple store customer was the victim of a robbery, minutes after leaving the Georgetown (DC) store with her purchase on November 30th. The woman was carrying two laptops she had just purchased, and was attacked about two blocks from the store. On December 1st two customers used a credit card stolen from a nearby hospital to purchase $9,808 in Apple gear from the King Street (SC) store.
Security features at Apple stores are well known to criminals, and include interior video surveillance, alarms to private alarm companies, and anti-shoplifting tethers connected to an audible alarm. Not so well understood is that all the products in the store have permanent identifiers, allowing police to enter the stolen items into the NCIC stolen property database, and for Apple to detect the products if they’re brought into a store for service. The identifiers also provide ways for investigators to detect, locate and track the devices wirelessly.
Lastly, stolen iPhones can be remotely erased and locked through Apple’s Mobile Me service, and completely disabled as a telephone by carrier AT&T.
Last year the Sagemore (NJ) store was burglarized twice in four months. During the second burglary, five suspects broke the front door and confronted an unarmed security posted overnight inside the store. The guard took no action to prevent the theft of several display laptops and iPhones.
Update: On December 14th an iPhone was stolen from a Melbourne (Australia) hospital, and police using the Find My Phone and a helicopter found the suspect and arrested him.E-mail this story