I couldn’t believe what I read a few days ago about Apple employees and the San Francisco Police Department barging into an innocent man’s house in search of an iPhone prototype:

In an interview with SF Weekly last night, Calderón told us that six badge-wearing visitors came to his home in July to inquire about the phone. Calderón said none of them acknowledged being employed by Apple, and one of them offered him $300, and a promise that the owner of the phone would not press charges, if he would return the device.

Of course, the SFPD denied being involved in the “raid”

There’s just one problem: SFPD spokesman Officer Albie Esparza says no records exist of any such activity by SFPD inspectors.

“I talked to CNET” reporter Declan McCullagh, Esparza tells SF Weekly. “I don’t know who his source is, but we don’t have any record of any such an investigation going on at this point.”

Esparza says no records of the visit to Bernal Heights by police officers — which should be recorded in documentation per standard SFPD procedures — exist at either Mission or Ingleside stations, at least one of which would have handled the incident. (Ingleside station covers Bernal Heights, while the phone was allegedly lost at Cava 22, a bar in the Mission.) Police dispatchers also have no records of any incident involving the address where the search for the phone supposedly took place, Esparza says.

— that is, until the SFPD confessed their involvement the next day:

September 2, 2011


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.

Apple employees “accompanied” four SFPD Officers to the home?


I find that off-putting and curious that Apple wields that much private power with public officials, but maybe I’m naïve.  Was there any proof or proper investigation by the SFPD without Apple’s direct involvement before the house call raid was made?

With the iPhone 5 on its way in October, the non-naïve cynic in me wonders if this is, yet again, another nicely planted PR stunt by Apple — à la the infamous Gray Powell Incident:

The best way to use Gray Powell to help advertise the new iPhone — without firing him — is having Gizmodo out him as the “loser he was” and in that public naming and shaming, Apple looks like a great and good company by keeping him on the job instead of kicking him to the silicon alley where he belongs.

The story of Gray Powell is just beginning to emerge, and if too many people begin to catch on to this fantastical PR windfall for Apple — Gray might very well end up on the outs with Apple just to keep the secret of what really happened pinned to the headstone forever — and I’m sure Gray Powell would walk away from it all a very rich man for keeping those grave secrets.

What do you think? Is this “SFPD to the Apple iPhone 5 Raid Rescue” just another tasteless Apple PR stunt — or are the SFPD really so incompetent and easy to manipulate by those wearing chewed fruit badges?


  1. Publicity stunt. Or else apple is the stupidest company that ever lived and has morons working for them. really? Again? They may well have raided some poor guy’s house, though 🙁

    1. It is just odd, Joleene — and it makes me wonder if everyone was in on it — including the guy who had his home “intruded upon.” Have we ever heard of such nonsense about losing prototype phones from Nokia or Sony or Samsung or RIM… it’s just all too pretty and convenient — and I’m a massive Apple Fanboi! — but this whole thing smells of being an insider PR stunt.

  2. I love the Onion article about Apple searching for a bar in which they can lose the prototype for the next iPhone in 2013. This is so ridiculous and yet we are somehow okay with it because we keep saying, “PLEASE take my money!” to Apple!

    1. I guess if the bar prank works — keep doing it until you get caught or sales drop! This does seem to be some sort of purposeful, sordid, theatricality to make the iPhone 5 so “important” that the police have to get involved. If this PR stunt were actually real — then the guy who was violated by Apple would be quite a rich man in winning lawsuits against the SFPD or Apple for their wrongful harassment. If this whole thing was — in fact “real” — then the guy had to be paid off quite handsomely to drop the whole issue… which takes us back to square one and it all being done for PR.

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