iPhone 5 Missing: SF Police Describes Its Role in the Search

The San Francisco Police Department released a brief statement this past weekend describing its role in the search for a missing iPhone 5 prototype, which disappeared from a tequila lounge, Cava 22, at the end of July.

Apple, who generally stays tight-lipped about the company's new technology prior to official releases, used GPS capabilities to track down the missing iPhone, leading them to a single-family home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

“Four SFPD Officers accompanied Apple employees to the Anderson street home,” the police department's statement said. “The two Apple employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item. The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house.”

CNET's initial report of the incident said that the resident, who was identified by SF Weekly as 22-year-old Sergio Calderon, said that he had been at Cava 22 that night. But when Apple employees failed to recover the device, they offered him money to return it to them, but he denied that he had it.

Calderon says that he was threatened by the officials that searched his home that evening. As a group, he says, they identified themselves as being from the SFPD, but none identified themselves as Apple employees.

Some are now questioning whether or not Apple employees were posing as police officers that evening, a crime which, under California law, can result in up to a one year prison sentence if convicted.

An unnamed source told CNET that Apple representatives contacted the SFPD a day or two after the iPhone went missing, saying that it was priceless and the company desperately wants it back.

“The Apple employees did not want to make an official report of the lost item,” the SFPD release said.

News of the missing iPhone 5 came several weeks after prosecutors decided not to press criminal charges against the Gizmodo technology blog, which, in a similar incident, was able to obtain the iPhone 4 prototype in April 2010 prior to its release.

Gizmodo paid $5,000 for the iPhone, which had accidentally been left at a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif., by an Apple software engineer, and then published photos and specifications on their blog in advance of its official release.

San Mateo County prosecutors have, however, filed misdemeanor charges against Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, who allegedly obtained the device and setup the deal with Gizmodo.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.