Apple has reportedly contacted local law enforcement officials about its missing next-generation iPhone unit that was left behind at a Redwood City bar by an Apple engineer and was eventually bought by gadget website Gizmodo.
The case generated huge coverage because it was one of the only times Apple has lost track of one of its upcoming hardware units. Cnet is now reporting that Apple is talking to investigators with the high tech task force REACT, a multi-agency group who may be looking into the original finder of the iPhone, Gizmodo or both.
Gizmodo has not been shy about paying $5,000 for the unit. The blog said the finder of the iPhone was at the bar the night that the Apple engineer left the unit on a barstool before leaving.
The finder held on to the iPhone and later tried to contact Apple customer care to report it. But otherwise, he did not appear to contact Apple directly, the police or return the iPhone to the bar.
Instead, the unnamed finder apparently shopped the unit around to gadget sites Gizmodo and Engadget. Gizmodo paid $5,000 for the unit and then wrote a widely read article trumpeting its find. Apple responded by asking for the unit back, which Gizmodo complied with. Gizmodo has said until Apple confirmed it was theirs, they weren’t certain it was an Apple product and not a knock-off.
California law says that if you find an item that contains information about its owner and don’t try to return it, that qualifies as theft. A second law requires a finder of an object worth more than $100 to turn the item over to the police.
Also, there are laws against people who knowingly receive illegal property, which can result in up to a year in jail.
This could get really interesting. Apple is known for jealously guarding its secrets. So it’s no surprise they would try to pursue this.
So what do you think? Is this theft? Or are Giz or the finder in the clear?