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Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 05:05 am PT (08:05 am ET)

Belgian heist lands thousands of stolen Apple iPhones

An elaborately planned theft of at least 3,000 iPhones in Belgium this weekend amounted to millions of euros worth of stolen property.

Local reports from De Standaard and Gazet van Antwerpen vary on whether it was 3,000 or 4,000 iPhones stolen, but at a worth of 575 to 675 euros each, the market value is said to be around 2 million euros, or $3 million U.S. The handsets were allegedly stolen from a Netherlands-based logistics company CEVA Logistics in Willebroek.

According to reports, the thieves climbed a fire ladder to get on the roof of the warehouses where the phones were being held. They then cut a hole into the roof, directly over where the iPhones were located.

Reports suggest the detail and precision of the theft implies someone had inside knowledge of the delivery and location of the iPhones. Officials with Ceva declined to comment on the theft, but were said to be "seriously annoyed by the intrusion," according to Google Translate.

The theft is apparently an issue for wireless carrier Mobistar, which has reportedly had trouble keeping the iPhone 3G and low-end iPhone 3GS in stock. Officials with the wireless provider contacted their supplier and expect to have a new stock of phones within days, but the company is anxious to resupply before their existing inventory runs out.

Because the serial numbers on the stolen phones are known, Mobsistar officials said they can block the handsets from accessing their network. Police are said to be looking into the matter, but currently have no leads.