Apple Store Thieves Run Off With $24K In Useless Products

Image courtesy of Amy Hollyfield

If you’ve browsed an Apple Store recently, you may notice that the display devices are no longer tethered to their docks or tables. That’s because new security measures mean that the devices don’t work outside of the store. Maybe no one told the five young men who ran off with with more than 20 devices that can only really be used as pretty paperweights.

KGO-TV in San Francisco (auto-play video at that link) reports that the five suspects scooped up 17 iPhones, three iPads, and two computers, presumably laptops. A security guard reported seeing the suspects run toward the back of the nearby Macy’s store, and from there they may have escaped in a vehicle.

While the reported retail value of merchandise stolen was $24,000, the devices wouldn’t be worth much if the suspects wanted to unload them quickly, or keep them for their own use.

9to5Mac explains that Apple has added a “kill switch” to its devices that deactivates them and prevents them from being erased once they’re removed from the store’s WiFi network. This is why display devices aren’t bolted to tables with steel cables anymore, but that also means stealing them won’t do you much good.

Apple can try to track them down using the Find My iPhone feature. That’s the only app that a device set up as a store demo can run until the battery dies, but thieves will not be able to actually use the devices.

They don’t lose all of their street value after leaving the mall, though: They could be broken down and some of their parts could be used to repair other devices. That’s not really worth the risk of burglarizing a camera-filled electronics store, though.

The thieves could also hope to get lucky and sell these to people who (A) won’t think to test them before buying, and (B) won’t be able to track them down and beat the crud out of the scammers when they realize they’ve been had. Again, not really worth the risk.

The same store was also burglarized in November 2016, with devices valued at up to $40,000 stolen.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.