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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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grey area

I wonder if Chen claimed his home office space as business premises on his last tax return? That would help his case that it is "journalistic premises" but the law is still unsettled in this area.

From reading the daily details, I do not think that there would be a big problem in getting a subpoena for his equipment. Certainly a higher standard than a warrant but it *seems* that there would be enough to support it. Time will tell - it will be interesting to watch. Especially as several people have been, well let's say "incautious" with their public statements.

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This post has been deleted by its author

just use the political excuse

When our great politicians get caught doing something in violation of the law they claim they weren't aware of the law, even though half the time the same individuals are on the same panels that write the laws being violated.

This incident goes to show who our police work for. They work for apple, intel, ibm etc... They don't work for small business.

If you owned a small business and this same situation occurred you'd be sol.

Hopefully this dudes right and they violated the law by searching the home of an media figure.

As others has said he never attempted to hide anything, the cops searching his place or ransacking it rather is their way to build other cases which would also conflict with California law.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Law enforcement is permitted to lie to you but your not permitted to lie to them or if your caught in a lie your fried, unlike themselves.

California has nothing better to do then enforce Apples BS? The state is broke, is apple helping bail the state out of it's fiscal disaster?

Are all these billionaires helping California? Is apple employing alot of local California workers?

Maybe they are.

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Boffin

Thye Bottom Line

Is that Apple bought off the cops. Everyone in Silicon valley knows there is no way the police would have the slightest interest in this if Apple had not paid someone off in government to do the raid.

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FAIL

Bollocks

Bollocks,

There has been so much Press coverage the police had little option but to investigate, or maybe some prosecutor saw an opportunity to make his/her name.

Maybe Apple made a complaint to the police, the fact they were engaging with Gizmodo, who were trying to return of the device (even if it had the effect of confirming the device was genuine), makes me suspect not.

Either way the Police investigating a high profile suspected crime does not indicate government corruption.

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Boffin

Huh? Good publicity for the cops too!

Are you kidding? REACT was established at the request of Silicon Valley high tech industry, and its stated remit is to "provide a more effective level of service to the high tech business community". Those same high tech companies "provide specialized training, liaison personnel and internal support for task force investigations." There's no way that they were going to pass up _this_ PR opportunity, even without the nod from Apple!

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WTF?

If it was any other device...

by any other maker, there would be no investigation into a possible "felony." But we all know that all goes out the window when it involves Apple. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple paid off the cops and had hauled his equipment away for an "investigation" at Cupertino. Perhaps if Chen had Macs instead of whatever Windows boxen he was running Steve Jobs could've just remoted in and snooped through his files without leaving a trace or attracting media attention.

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Boffin

No double standards, basic LAW 101

No, there isn't a double standard, it's basic law and something this simple is high-school level.

Simply: If you find something in the street, hand it in to the Police. Obvious 20c is not going to attract attention, but I think for Australia (legal persons might correct me here...) the law states anything above the value of about $20. or is it $50? ANYWAY, you Hand It In.

The Police take your details, where you found it, and if no-one claims it in 6 months, IT'S YOURS. The "State", "Federation", "Republic" or whatever your local brand of Eeeeevil Empire(tm) is called, will only sell unclaimed items.

Two cases in point: 1. a friend found a camera bag with selection of lenses, SLR etc. Obviously lost or stolen, hands it in to cops. 6 months later, gets a phone call saying 'come get your camera' SCORE!

2. Bloke who works for bank (and should know better) finds a garbage bag with $1,000,000 in small loose notes. He hides it under his desk, at work (not very bright is he?). Sure enough, someone spots him taking large wads of cash from bag under desk, IN A BANK, so rightly calls security, who call cops. His story comes out, and is actually true - the bag was likely dropped in a drug deal gone wrong, BUT the prosecution pushes the fact that as bank staff he should have known better. Sentence - 2 years in the big house. Goodbye career in bank! Funny thing - if he handed it in, in 6 months he would have been a millionaire, what drug dealer is going to go and ask for his cash back? The money by the way, went to charity, not state coffers either.

As for these Gizmodo gits, hope they get the book thrown at them, or someone nicks their car "It was just sitting there in the street, obviously you didn't want it, so I took it and stripped it of parts!"

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Universally applied

Would this have recieved the same level of police attention if you'd lost your phone in a bar?

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FAIL

Except...

Except... Gizmodo weren't the ones who found it. The guy who DID find it knew who the owners were and tried to give it back. Apple said keep it.

So, not quite the same.

I think it is yet another case of some over zealous DA wanting to make a name for themselves.

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Flame

@AC 15:52

I keep seeing this argument over and over and I have yet to figure out how anyone can believe it.

If I left my phone in a bar why the hell would you call Sanyo and tell them you found it? Even after logging into my Fb page from the phone and finding out what my name is you still think the appropriate way to return it is calling Sanyo? Certainly turning it over to the bar in the case I might come back for it would never cross your mind.

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Title and stuff.

Can't say I have much sympathy. It was Gizmodo's attitude that irked me the most about it.

If I found that phone and understood what it was, knowing that a fellow engineers career might be hanging on getting it back, I'd go to fairly great lengths to get it to him (if somehow I had already magically missed the easiest and most sensible option of just giving it to the bartender, of course). So I can't see the finder as having anything other than blatantly nefarious intentions.

Gizmodo's claim of anything resembling intelligence or professionalism went out with them bragging about how they bought it.

If the finder had said he made at least superficial attempts to return it himself and, failing that, handed it over to a Gizmodo "journalist" on the pretext he would be interested enough to use his industry contacts to get it back to its proper owner, and maybe get something to write about along the way, then everybody would have a reasonable claim at innocence (nobody has to know about the envelope of $50's). Instead, Gizmodo doesn't only come off as acting ethically dubious, but as being almost comically inept at it.

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Unhappy

So, business as usual then???

It would be really nice if everyone in the world did "what was right" instead of "what is legal", but that just isn't the case unfortunately.

The media is all about the story, Gizmodo are no different than any other media outlet.

At least Gizmodo didn't try to change the law in the first place so that they could do what they wanted, rather just used the law as it is, which is more than can be said for many other corporates.

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Boffin

@AC 15:52

They've done studies on this, and surprisingly most people do the right thing to try to return the wallet or phone. If you need I can look up citations for this, but it one place the studies were referenced was Paper, Rock, Scissors: Game Theory in Every Day Life.

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Joke

All your base are belong to...

....a PD in Silicon Valley. How soon before they run an exclusive?

"Move ZIG - For great justice!"

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Bronze badge

History repeated

I suspect Gizmodo has probably gone a bit too far in trying to get one up on Apple.,,

Still, if Apple want absolute secrecy why do they give their latest and greatest to staff to use in the field? Doing so is a way of conducting extended field trials, but it is inevitable that one is going to be lost and found.

The Royal Air Force made a similar mistake in World War 2. The usefulness of a radio navigation system called GEE was threatened by the loss of an early model over Germany. Take a look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEE_(navigation)

Apple should read more history. I wonder what other avoidable, already happened mistakes they'll make? I think that their own history would be useful reading to them. They once nearly went down the tubes because they were expensive, no better than the competition and failed to innovate.

Lets review the current situation. Expensive - check. No better than anything else - soon to be a check if not already. Innovating - not really in hardware or software terms, no. They can only carry on growing by creating additional desirable services hosted on iTunes and locking users in. Sounds like more user fleecing in the offing.

The trouble is that some of the big things they're contemplating - travel tickets bought / used via iPhone for example - might not get off the ground. For anything big that is a public utility, like transport, it will be difficult to persuade the authorities that it can be used only by iPhone users.

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Happy

The marketing is working then!

How many "column inches" have been taken up with us all discussing this iPhone prototype thingy eh? Thousands of people, newspapers discussing it, forums awash with talk from haters and baiters.

You simply cannot buy marketing hype like this....makes me wonder...

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Same action, different result?

While it may be a crime to buy stolen gear, its it a crime to pay the finder a fee so you can return it?

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting

It may be an offence to offer a "no questions asked" reward for its return (in the UK)

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Badgers

@rots in hell

Actually several layers of society are above several otherwise universal laws.

It's hard nowadays to figure out who to bother even prosecuting given all the exemptions that abound. Some guy, driving geese through London - allowed. Archery, in Parliament square? Totally! Photographers taking pictures.. officers discretion. Diplomats smuggling in South African gold - allowed. The police beating people up - allowed. It wasn't long ago shooting people in the head was allowed. Leaving an arms rally looking over confident.. not allowed.

Thank the deity for lawyers to help us sort the whole mess out.

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Yes, but...

As I recall, the definition of "theft" includes something along the lines of "with the intention to permanently deprive the owner" of something - which is why e.g. copyright infringement isn't theft.

Since it was Chen etc who informed Apple that they had their phone and subsequently returned it I don't see where the theft charge arises. Are they saying that it is illegal to handle stolen goods (by Californaian definition) if you are doing so to return the goods to their rightful owner?

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Boffin

Business Cards

although it's entirely unclear to us why they might have felt the need for a whole box of business cards belonging to "suspect chen".

Perhaps because they were capable of storing data, ie mini CD's or smart cards.

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Flame

come on...

Calling Apple tech support does not constitue a reasonable attempt to give the phone back to the owner. The owner (or caretaker) has been calling the bar repeatedly to get it back. The "finder" has been into the owner's facebook account, knows his name, can contact him easily.

And this is not a found item. It is an unattended item. If you leave your jacket (with wallet and id) unattended for any period of time, is it mine to do with as I please?

NO

It is YOUR jacket, left unattended. If I take it, use the stuff in it, take your money and THEN bother to look at your address I am a crook. If I then give you conditions as to how you can get it back (you can only get it back if you do X) then I am possibly a blackmailer.

If I decide to take it apart at the seams (corrr, what's this thing made of), then I am willfully damaging YOUR property.

There is a specific law in California stating that for found objects, reasonable attempts must be made at returning them to the rightful owner. When you've already (illegally) accessed the owner's facebook then you don't have much defense left.

That's even apart from any trade secret laws which apply in California.

Giz seems guilty of crimes (and tactlessness, stupidity, and lack of morals) and will get what they deserve.

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Jobs Horns

"Trade secret laws"?!

Trade secret laws? Is there such a thing?

Do you mean a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)? As an "agreement", this only applies where both parties have "agreed" to it.

I doubt Apple and Gizmodo have an NDA (at least not one that covers the iPhone 3GS v2.0 (I refuse to call it 4G when it isn't!!!) so this doesn't apply.

Apple, as usual, are being the heavy-handed, shady, unethical hoods that we have all come to know and expect.

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Silver badge

Hah!

The interesting thing is, this Gizmodo bloke and his pusher might have a case for damages if they can argue the iPhone posed an attractive menace, because in some parts of the USA, even though it is your swimming pool or your motorcycle and people really should teach their kids not to touch what doesn't belong to them, it is your fault if they can see the pool, jump over your fence at night and subsequently drown or pull your classic Harley over and get themselves crushed under it while you are in Starbucks.

This iPhone was clearly "must have" techno-bling, and therefore leaving it out on a bar in front of someone who needed the 5 grand was criminally irresponsible. What iAddict could resist its siren call? Having found the thing was useless as a phone, the iAddict sells it on to finance his iAddiction, thereby entrapping the innocent Gizmodo in a downward spiral of iProduct-fueled bingeing that cuold only end badly.

Truly, Steve Jobs is Satan Made Manifest, and this wretched iPhone is iCrack for the new millennium (plus ten) foisted on the helpless youth of America and other places where you can get a signal.

Oh the Humanity!

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viral marketing

I'm with Stuart on this one ... the whole 'I lost it while I was trashed' story just doesn't hold water to me ... if Apple didn't want this getting out there, then why did it leave the building in the first place?

'In the wild' trials would be made under controlled conditions, likely by driving about during office hours ... if the trials weren't made under controlled conditions then they wouldn't be much use as a test, since you would not be able to tell what caused the 'error condition' that you observe.

Lets face it ... everyone's been had, including the CA police (who are currently being used like a pawn by apple's marketing department) ... sucks to be Chen tho.

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Jobs Horns

Finders keepers...

F'k'n idiots! finder made 50 000, would've kept his mouth shut, I assume he's lost it now? Jizmodo should'a said the iPhone was sent in anonymous like, they examined it, wrote up about it, posted it on to Apple - everybody happy.

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Silver badge

Machinopocalypse is nigh

So the Governator wants the 4G iPhone back, badly? Must have a prototype Skynet chip inside then...

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Paris Hilton

Apple may have saved him

In terms of a defence to the charge it could be argued that Apple transferred ownership of the device to the finder when they told him it wasnt genuine and he could keep it.

That would mean that Chen didnt buy a "found" item, it was an "owned" item and the finder was entitled to sell it as ownership had been transferred.

My bet will be on the entire police department getting iPhone 4G's as a reward for serving the collective.

Paris, she isnt a lawyer either!

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Stop

Hmmmm...

Thing is, from what I've read 'sour grapes on apples part' doesn't apply here, seems the police are taking it upon themselves to investigate without instruction from Apple. I've certainly not read Jobs/Apple having any involvement in this other than to ask for the phone back (which I'd have thought they had by now)

As for Chen being slated for naming the guy who lost the phone, so what. The guy deserved it IMO, you take something that valuable to a birthday bash, get drunk and leave it behind? That's just dumb. There's no way he should have taken it out with him. And really, as if Apple wasn't going to find out who lost it anyway. I imagine they're on a VERY tightly controlled list, one not being checked in at some point is going to raise eyebrows straight away, so he was going to be found out anyway...

I just think this has been blown out of all proportion, criminal activity or not. It's a phone for crying out loud, is it really worth kicking down his door and raiding his office?

Arrest the guy sure, but this all seems a bit heavy handed to me...

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Alien

Thinking of handling stolen goods?

Protect your sources - become a blogger!

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Still think this is a plant?

If the engineer who left the phone in a bar lies when called as a witness in the theft case, he can be charged with perjury. Penalties for perjury are not trivial. How would Apple incentivise him to perjure himself in court with the prospect of jail time and acquiring a police record?

If Apple asks for the case to be dropped as the phone wasn't really stolen, they'll be charged with wasting police time, plus lose any credibility with the police if a similar incident happens in future.

All this for a supposed marketing stunt which hurts Apple at least as much as it helps them.

The police are duty bound to investigate a potential crime when it's been plastered over the internet for days. If you think the response is heavy-handed, keep in mind the value of the phone. It's worth many, many times more than the $5,000 Gizmodo paid for it.

One thing we'll never know - if the finder had persevered in contacting Apple, would they have rewarded him more highly than Gizmodo did?

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Coffee/keyboard

That would be a 'nope'

"One thing we'll never know - if the finder had persevered in contacting Apple, would they have rewarded him more highly than Gizmodo did?"

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

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Joke

Heh...

"One thing we'll never know - if the finder had persevered in contacting Apple, would they have rewarded him more highly than Gizmodo did?"

Nah, they would tell him (repeatedly) that he had reached his "lifetime limit" (which they won't specify) on finding iPhones, and he cannot find any more of them. Ever.

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@Those of you saying this is about Apple.

Try this scenario:

Man1 looses phone in a bar.

Man2 finds phone and calls a helpline for the company Man1 works for.

Helpline says it can't help.

Man2 takes phone home and then sells it to someone else.

Police find out about this and it is illegal to sell found property.

Man2 is arrested.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Heck, anyone who finds property and doesn't either ignore it, hand it in to someone they feel is responsible for the premises they find it on, or hand it into the police are just thieves anyhow.

Yes, it is careless to leave property somewhere -- but anyone claiming it would never happen to them is either obsessive-compulsive or a deluded optimist.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Except Man2 played with the phone

and acessed Man1's Facebook page. He knew d*mn well to whom the phone belonged. He called a helpline instead of going back to the bar the next evening and asking if anyone had been looking for a phone. He then sold it to a blogger for $5000.

Gizmodo knew d*mn well what they were buying. They *could* have taken a few snaps of it, and then called Apple and offered to return it. Instead, they kept it for a month, published that they had bought it off someone who found it in a bar and disclosed that they knew who had lost it.

Neither of these folks comes off as being particularly ethical. They are now getting their just rewards. It's hard to feel any kind of pity for them.

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FAIL

Not quite...

The help line didn't say "t can't help." though... they said "keep it"...

Very different.

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Yes, I got confused with my man numbering too.

I suppose I should have started at Man0.

I would hope that even if this weren't an Apple prototype then anyone buying a phone they knew someone found in a bar would be arrested. Theft is theft.

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Anonymous Coward

However

Most of the time it would end

Man arrested

Man interviewed

Man released on bail to appear before magistrate

Man fined/sentenced/handed over to higher court

notice that "take all suspects gear away" is not on list.

If they wanted to know who he paid for the phone, why didn't they ask at the interview stage. If he claimed some form of journalistic immunity then they would have subpoena'd

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WTF?

It wasn't his

Basically it wasn't his property, no matter how much some people on here wish it was.

That's all there is to it really. Nothing surprising here... to anyone with common sense.

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Joke

Is there an app for that

Owning a PD ?

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WTF?

Not clear cut

Not all that clear cut, the finder, and rag (gizmodo) seem to have done several things right, and several wrong.

1) Someone leaves a phone in a bar, it happens. A lot.

2) Someone picks up phone and waits to see if owner returns

3) Finder leaves with phone (Doesn't leave phone with bar, or his contact info - sounds weird)

4) Finder takes phone home and plays with it for a bit.

WTF - this is someone else’s private property - why are you doing 'playing' with it this is not your toy. Search contacts for 'Home', 'Work' or 'ICE' numbers sure - but randomly playing with it inc the camera??? Unacceptable

5) Finder (while playing) finds facebook contact info, but doesn't contact apparent owner.

6) Phone is remotely wiped, meaning it has been reported missing/stolen.

7) Finder thinks it looks odd so opens the case - Now this is blatant criminal damage.

8) Finder starts to call Apple, no response. He seems to have deduced that this is some kind of prototype, hence the owner would be Apple, not the guy apparently field testing it - Fair enough, and Apple support not knowing about a prototype - again fair enough, (but still that is Apples problem, if this is the official way of contacting Apple, then their internal procedures are up to them) but if you have his facebook info surely that would be a quicker way of returning it.

9) Finder sells phone to online rag. What the hell are you thinking (other than $$$). The only way I can conceive of this being remotely acceptable is to *give* them the device as long as they give you a written guarantee they will attempt to return it to its rightful owner (They seem to be a niche Apple rag so its reasonable to expect them to have contacts within Apple) and then sell them an interview.

10) Rag contacts Apple, rips apart, sorry, 'documents' the device.

11) Rag publishes; Reg commentards foam at the mouth.

12) Apple responds requesting the return of said device.

13) Presumably rag returns device?

14) Police raid journalist and seize equipment (possibly illegally)

(All of this is sourced from gizmodo, so take it as you will)

As far as I can see, if the Rag was given the phone (but probably not paid for it) then they would be fine, as they can adequatly demonstrate they have identified and notified the owner. But paying for it seem dodgy, saying that there are all sorts of special laws to protect journalists and their sources and IANAL.

Or is this another case of the public being interested vs. in the public interest?

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Business Cards

The warrant isn't 100% explicit in the description of the business cards, but I can envisage several reasons why you would want to seize them:

Option 1) They may be owned by Chen, but may not be *his* business cards. They may be contacts that he has met (or corresponded with) who have given him their business cards. If the police wish to trace the source of the iPhone then these business cards provide a handy starting point for buliding a picture of potential suspects.

Option 2) The business cards are for Chen's business but perhaps they contain other details scrawled on them. For example, you meet someone that doesn't have a business card . You hand them one of yours for them to write their telephone number (or whatever) on the back of. Again potentially useful for establishing potential suspects.

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Grenade

Apple is the owner of the phone, not the engineer

I notice a number of people have complained about the fact that Apple, rather than the specific engineer were contacted with regard to the return of the phone. As it is a prototype, I highly doubt that the engineer "owns" the phone, he merely had it on loan. The obligation is to return "possibly" stolen property to its owner, not the person it may be loaned out to.

As it appears attempts were made to contact Apple to return the phone, then I don't see how any potential prosecution could stand. And that is before the protected journalism shield rights and warrant validity come into play.....

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WTF?

Reasonable...

Phoning Applecare will not be deemed reasonable, no matter how much you hate Apple. The reasonable course of action would have been to hand it into the bar or the police, simple as. It may be overzealous to suggest malice; however naivety in't a defence either...

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Pirate

Bootrom...

Question Apple want to know the answer to is who else did they let play with it?

Why? Because if they did, and the right people have already had a look at the bootrom, then there's a chance that the device will be jailbroken on the first day of release ;-)

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strange business cards...

but pretty cool though: "suspect chen"

i want some saying "suspect jon"

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Silver badge

Good grief...

Talk about heavy handed.

Wouldn't a quick phone call containing the words "Hello Sir, this is the Police, we've had a phone call from St Jobs, would you mind giving his phone back please?" have done the job?

I see a lot of Apple gear in that inventory of confiscated gear, I hope he remembers how he was treated when it comes to upgrade time...

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WTF?

Gestapo

No matter what happened, it still doesn't give the police the right to bust down the guys door looking for a fn' phone. FFS it's not a f*ck'n missing Picasso. It's just another phone among phones and not all that special.

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WTF?

So...

..it's OK that he may have broken the law and flaunted it under the local constabulary's nose? Gizmodo an Chen made this high profile, not Apple.

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