Remember how that fourth-generation iPhone leaked earlier this week? Well, it looks like the police are going to get involved to see if there were any laws broken.
This is the supposed story: An Apple baseband engineer was testing a prototype next-gen iPhone out in the wild and then he had some delicious German beer and left the highly-coveted handset in a bar. Some scumbag found it, supposedly tried to return it to Apple but was rebuffed. So, he of course sells it to Gizmodo for at least $5,000 and that site received a boatload of traffic.
You can argue about the ethics of this but the Silicon Valley police are going to investigate if there were any laws broken because Apple considered the device stolen. Apple has reportedly spoken with the police about this investigation and the Santa Clara County’s computer crime division is trying to sort this out. Of note is California penal code 485:
One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.
There’s some gray areas with what is “reasonable and just efforts,” as the person who sold the handset said he tried to track down the owner. Of course, that story could be complete bullshit to cover up for some hardcore corporate espionage. As for Giz, there’s also some concern that it could face charges for purchasing and possessing stolen property. In a needlessly cheeky response to Apple, the publication made it clear that it didn’t know the handset was stolen when it purchased it.
Nothing beats a good crime drama folks, so we’ll keep our eyes on this one.