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back to article Cops raid Gizmodo editor in pursuit of iPhone 4G 'felony'

Gizmodo editor Jason Chen has been raided by Silicon Valley's computer crime force in hot pursuit of the case of the missing iPhone prototype. According to a bulletin published by Gizmodo today, they broke down the front door to gain entry, and departed some hours later with a truck containing Chen's computer equipment. The …

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Gold badge

Didn't he call Apple?

I remember reading he called up Apple and they refused to believe he had the phone.

If he didn't response to the letter from Apple then that's his own fault.

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FAIL

Didn't call Apple.

Nope, he didn't call Apple; the person he bought it from did. Apple's front-line phone staff didn't know what to do about it, so the person who found it sold it to Chen.

The problem is that California makes buying found property a crime. Add to that the fact that Chen knew who the owner was, and, well...

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Not Exactly

California law states that the failure to return found property is unlawful if the finder has no knowledge of the "proper owner" or the ability to identify said "proper owner".

The law does not apply if the finder attempts to identify the owner and fails. This massive legal loophole is a he said/she said scenario which is almost irresolvable in court. This whole mess is an Apple funded jihad and it sucks.

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First line support

He called first level support who have no idea about prototype iPhones. That is not trying to contact the owner.

He had the NAME of the engineer who lost it from his Facebook page. He can't even argue that he forgot that, because he told Gizmodo what it was.

He could have phone Apple and asked to speak to the Engineer in person, did he do that, no!

He feebly phoned tech support, which is probably based somewhere else, in an effort to cover his ass.

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Re: Not Exactly

"The law does not apply if the finder attempts to identify the owner and fails"

But they did identify the owner. The finder identified him, and obviously told Chen who he was (Chen claims, the iPhone was bricked when he received it - how else could he know Grey was the owner?).

Besides, Cal law also says hand it in to the cops if you can't contact the owner, so that's a double-fail.

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WTF?

It's all a bit stupid really.

Gizmodo have not hidden any of the details of the said alleged felony.

What do they need all his equipment for?

The details are a matter of public record inasmuch as the Internet is public.

The question is whether or not what they did was illegal, which is think is open for debate.

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Anonymous Coward

Nope - standard process

If we assume the warrant was legal, they have the right to drag anything along that they think will help with their investigation (AFAIK). If you feel that gives them too much leeway, well, that depends on how you feel about the alleged crime.

I must admit I'm not feeling sorry for Gizmodo here - to me they committed two crimes after each other. First buying the device after it was known it was found, secondly by naming the guy who lost the device. That was low - there was no need for that.

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Coat

I will try to keep this simple, as you seem a little bewildered

"Twat".

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Anonymous Coward

Find the Perp

I assume they're trying to find out who took the phone originally, hence they took a box of business cards from Chen as well as his computer equipment. Gawker have also citing California 'Shield Laws' to try and protect the source and their staff.

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Thumb Down

so did they found the to-be-jesus-phone

So after Steve Jobs has satisfy his power of the godphone, they still don't have the *&^%%#^#* phone.

*&^%%#&# Jobs is a dbag as well as the followers. Carelessness on your part does not constitute a felony and "stolen" claims on another person.

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FAIL

Already returned

I think Gizmodo already returned the 4G iPhone to Apple after they'd finished analysing it. Allegedly the finder had previously attempted to return it to Apple but was rebuffed by Apple support who refused to believe it was a legitimate prototype device, instead assuming that it was merely a cheap rip-off.

I believe the issue here is that it is illegal in California to buy something if you know that it is not the property of the seller.

Smacks a bit of sour grapes on Apple's part to me.

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Anonymous Coward

English. It's hard.

"So after Steve Jobs has satisfy his power of the godphone"

I see. And what does that mean, exactly?

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Stop

Um...actually, it does.

"Carelessness on your part does not constitute a felony and "stolen" claims on another person."

Actually, in this case, it does. The whole thing took place in California. Under California state law, § 2080 - 2082, keeping, buying, or selling found property is in fact a crime.

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Happy

now, what would happen..

.. if I stole the found property off the finder? It's not his, so it's not really theft, and I didn't find it, so it's not holding on to found property :-).

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Are they investigating the finder?

"Under California state law, § 2080 - 2082, keeping, buying, or selling found property is in fact a crime."

In that case the finder is as culpable of breaking the law for selling it as Gizmodo are for buying it. Any report that the police have kicked down the finders door too? or maybe they are looking for who the finder is in Chen's computer so they can kick his door in at a later date?

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WTF?

What you talking bout Willis?

"So after Steve Jobs has satisfy his power of the godphone, they still don't have the *&^%%#^#* phone."

Eh? Didn't understand that at all!

"Carelessness on your part does not constitute a felony and "stolen" claims on another person."

Perhaps not.

Knowingly handling or trading stolen goods is likely to get you a time in chokey though, isn't it?

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RE: Already returned

"Smacks a bit of sour grapes on Apple's part to me."

I refer you to your previous sentence "it is illegal in California to buy something if you know that it is not the property of the seller".

Apple are well within their rights. The story about it being "left in a bar" may be exactly that, a story. It could easily have been sneakily nicked from a pocket or something. People can't just "find" things and sell them on. If they could then I'd "find" patio tables and BBQs just lying around in people's gardens all the time. I might even move up to "finding" cars in the street ...

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FAIL

He should have offered it to Apple

As in

"Hi got you prototype phone down here, want to pick it up (in bits!)"

Don't know who the guy was how sold me it but he was a old guy, with grey hair, kept saying how good it was and he didn't look very well!

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Grenade

I hope he rots in hell!

Jason Chen is a criminal and no apparent 'rubbish' about being an internet hack should put him above the law. I read the other posts and its clear that GIZMODO/Jason Chen is a criminal due to knowingly buying stolen goods. The person who sold Jason Chen the iphone is also a criminal having sold him a stolen item by finding. The law is clear, you make reasonable effort to contact the OWNER not the manufacturer (The owner is the one entrusted with the device). If you cant the item is to be left with the police, in the UK if the owner does not claim the item the finder can claim the item! Why do some sections of society think they are above the law? Hacks, police nobody is above the law! Send him down!

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Gold badge

Umm, not yet..

.. his actions may be a crime, but he isn't a criminal until a judge says so. IANAL, but this could mean that you've just libelled him and he could come after you for defamation, which I would find entertainingly ironic.

Yes, he's an idiot and since he published the name of the chap who lost it he's not in my good books either and he'd probably deserves a fine but he bought *found* goods, not *stolen* goods, there is a distinction.

Now take your medicine.

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Flame

Re: I hope he rots in hell!

Rots in hell?! And I think you'll find that the owner is Apple - you know, the corporation that, erm, *owns* the phone - who also got value for money from the police, showing that the Corporate States of America is as healthy as it ever was.

So the guy eyes a scoop and the phone takes a bit of a round trip before being returned to the aloof *owner*? Better that than it never being seen again as the "finder" fences it to someone with less honest intentions.

Sheesh! Get yourself another hobby or something - the Apple fanboy thing is turning you into a Daily Mail columnist.

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Unhappy

Yep, the Corporate States of America...

...is healthier than ever. I'm sure that REACT was falling over itself in its eagerness to knock down Jason Chen's door, although the wink from Steve probably didn't hurt.

Unfortunately, Mr Chen has been more than a little injudicious, and will be very lucky indeed if he stays out of jail: California is really not a good place to go offending big high-tech businesses...

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Anonymous Coward

So close...

...well, not really; "Yes, he's an idiot..." Do you not realise that you are committing the very same misdemeanour? Of course anyone with a modicum of legal education knows that in defamation (not sure of the precedents on defamation in website comments--slander is more likely, but that's moot) cases, the burden of evidence can be shifted to the plaintiff; ie Chen would have to prove that he wasn't indeed 'an idiot'.

Another point, that you can be forgiven for missing, is that whilst under investigation for a crime, the defendant usually cannot sue for defamation; they can generally only do that after the case has been brought and heard. If the case hasn't been brought, it'd be inadvisable in this instance to pursue it, as the plaintiff would probably have to prove that he wasn't a criminal and the courts would take that literally (hasn't committed a crime), and could end up potentially indicting himself. Oops! A case dropped doesn't prove innocence,.

>"...he bought *found* goods, not *stolen* goods, there is a distinction" and as stated time and again--did you miss it or simply chose to ignore it? Under the laws of the state of California a crime *may* have been committed. Chen seemingly bought an item with the knowledge that it had been found, it was not the property of the seller. This, in the Golden State, is illegal as it constitutes theft. Whether of not the seller did as he claimed and attempted to return the item is moot--I'm certain that their actions will be deemed 'unreasonable' (no, phoning a call centre or gloating in an Apple store does not constitute reasonable effort; handing it into the police does). Gawker Media are also trying to hide behind laws designed to protect journalist's sources--this may explain why Chen is being targeted so vigorously.

Next time, understand the implications of what is being discussed , and try not to indite yourself before dishing out your medicine.

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WTF?

Rotting in hell...

is a bit much, don't you think? Even prison time would be a bit harsh. Community service (picking up litter around the Apple campus perhaps?) and a hefty fine would fit the crime; perhaps even a public admission of culpability. Perhaps laying off the coffee would be advisable...

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Stop

RE: Umm, not yet..

"Yes, he's an idiot and since he published the name of the chap who lost it he's not in my good books either and he'd probably deserves a fine but he bought *found* goods, not *stolen* goods, there is a distinction."

Yes, but it's not as simple as "found != stolen".

He bought property which he knew did not beling to the seller.

Once he found out who owned it, he spread the person's identity all over the internet BUT he made no attempt to contact the owner to return the phone.

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Re: I hope he rots in hell!

"Get yourself another hobby or something - the Apple fanboy thing is turning you into a Daily Mail columnist."

Umm, he just wrote the facts about the case. He never at any time expressed any opinion about Apple's products...

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theft charge still sounds a bit flakey...

"So the guy eyes a scoop and the phone takes a bit of a round trip before being returned to the aloof *owner*?"

Guy finds phone, works out what it is. Does he rifle through all the personal data on it to find owner? Haven't actually read that as a confirmed fact anywhere, and Facebook app to facebook page sounds a bit tenuous esp. on a lab toy. Was the person in possession of the phone the owner? Apple Dev Prototype, probably Apple would not think so... Give it to the bartender ? hmmmm, maybe but will s/he understand the significance of the item as the finder has and really make sure it gets where it should? And what was the person carrying it doing with it outside of Apple Labs anyway? Definitely the one who dropped it will be freaking out if they borrowed it against the rules, so what to do? Really, seems like this is Apple's toy...

Ok, call Apple ... "piss off mate, doesn't sound like one of ours. No, you can't talk to Steve about it.. <click>."

F it, this seems like a big deal, but can't find the right people to listen, and gotta get back to work.. Tech blogs oughta care... hmmm, Endg might be interested, but Gizm will give $5000 finders fee and take over returning to the right people for sure. sorted.

So Gizm does go through the personal data, does call the guy, does get referred to Apple legal, does say "how do we know its really yours, please put that in writing", does return the phone.

Disassembled, photographed, reassembled, spread photos all over the web while in their possession? Yes, but law doesn't appear to mention that, looks like gotta give it back in ostensibly the same condition as found. Law doesn't appear to say "get it back to the owner in the smartest, most efficient way possible and don't be assholes about it or take advantage of the situation while you're at it".

Corporate secrets issues and journalistic options around that as mentioned are some other question, but nowhere does anyone seem to say that Gizm intended to keep the device from the rightful owner(s).

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FAIL

Fair comment defence

It has recently been established in the UK that calling someone an idiot, is actually fair comment on forum, and as El Reg is a UK site, Jason Chen would have to sue for defamation in the UK courts and it would be immediately thrown out.

Also in the UK, we have a criminal law about receiving stolen goods, which this item was. In all ways, Jason Chen is an idiot for not checking out his legal position.

I would also like to say, while I like Apple computers, I will not be purchasing the iPhone, iPad et al, I think in whatever incarnation, they are only there for technological half wits to say 'look what i've got.' I know that's a fact because I work with quite a few of them.

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Flame

Re: I hope he rots in hell!

"Umm", he hopes that someone "rots in hell" because a corporation didn't get its stuff back in a timely fashion. Sounds like a fanboy to me.

FAIL? Yes, you know it so well.

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Paris Hilton

oh dear

I wonder he had any pr0n on his drives :D

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Gold badge

Heh..

.. he has now ..

(evil grin)

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Anonymous Coward

I'm not a betting man, but I'd say that..

...the odds of Jason Chen being invited to the 4G launch seem to have lengthened slightly.

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Anonymous Coward

On the plus side

Maybe someone from El-Reg will get his seat?

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FAIL

Theft is Theft

How can this be a surprise?

You blog about how you paid for stolen property and the police investigate. (And no, making up a story about how it was "found" on a bar stool does not make it legal. Go try selling a car that you "found" on the street and see if the police care.)

It has nothing to do with Apple.

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Alert

Apples and Oranges

There's a difference... a found prototype phone is not grand theft. A car would be. Any cop would care more about a stolen car than a phone prototype.

The better comparison is protecting trade secrets. That's when a prototype phone becomes more valuable than a car. From the Economic Espionage Act:

"Whomever knowingly... receives, buys, or possesses a trade secret, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization;"

I think that this would definetly apply.

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Jobs Horns

What a waste of money...

Don't they have anything better to do?! I'm sure Jobs likes this one though.

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@What a waste of money..

Cops, what follow up on crime, stolen goods. How dare they do there job!

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Theft by finding?

I'm not sure about US law, but in the UK there's certainly a viable prosecution for "theft by finding", simply put it's still stealing (or recieving stolen property), even if you find it on the street (buy it off a bloke who found it on the street).

All in all, he's been pretty silly and all this story shows is the legal wangling you expect from the US courts system.

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Silver badge

if i where a betting person, I would put money on....

"Possession of stolen goods" is most likely what he is a suspect for, and frankly im suprised it took them this long. Collecting evidence that he commited the crime (cameras, computers, ideally the phone) by exicuting a search warrant would certainly be expected. The likelyhood of this being overtured is quite low, as i beleave a search warrent has to be signed by a judge (who is generally considered qualified to settle matters of law like this (juries are only for settling matters of fact)).

I think Mr. Chen is going to find the "but I'm a journalist so I can brake any law I want with no consiquence" defense just doesn't hold up. I'll have to keep an eye on this.

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Paris Hilton

As Douglas Adams said...

All property is theft, therefore theft is property, therefore the phone is his.

(OK it wasn't Douglas Adams who said the first part)

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Pint

To our Californian readers....

First one to send a tip off to the cops saying Chen has a 4G iPhone hidden up his ass gets a free pint. You get get another if you manage to get photos of the ensuing cavity search.

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Gold badge

Well, he did have that one coming

Retrieve 4G phone - check

Stiff, loud talk with ex birthday boy with hangover, no Alka Seltzers allowed - check

Getting journalist in deep sh*t - check

Steve Job's revenge list? There's an app for that...

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WTF?

For a chap that's banding around accusations of libel...

you're not very good at identifying when you are doing it, are you?! Or, like Chen, do you believe the rules don't apply to you?

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Stop

Seriously

There's a post like this on EVERY Apple article...

It wasn't funny the first time, it's not funny now

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Go

@AC, I'm not a betting man, but I'd say that.. #

50,000 Quatloos on Jason Chen NOT being invited to the 4G launch.

60,000 Quatloos on Jason Chen being charged, convicted and imprisoned by the California authorities.

30,000 Quatloos on Jason Chen escaping the above with only probation.

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Go

@Joe H.

Sorry, but I don't bet *against* certainties.

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Anonymous Coward

State double standards

Of course you have to turn it into the police. After all only the state can sell found property.

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Surely

thats the State selling confiscated and found property that hasnt been claimed?

Although Id actually be suprised if there was any effort put into locating owners of items, after all, if youve lost something or had something stolen, reporting it to the police might eventually reunite you with it.

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Gates Horns

Jobs wins!

Hey everybody - no one gets it yet: all this fuss just continues to generate buzz for the 4G iPhone! Free publicity! And it goes on for weeks! Jobs is a genius.

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Pint

Well, Gizmodo wins too

Gizmodo is getting advertisement like never before, and I am sure that Jason Chen himself is not regretting for a minute whatever it was that he did. As an aspirant journalist, he will likely consider it as a badge of honor. I doubt very much he will end up in jail, especially since he did eventually give back the iPhone.

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