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SFPD now says police officers did join in search for lost iPhone 5 prototype

After initially denying that the San Francisco Police Department was involved in searching the house of a man suspected of possessing a lost iPhone 5 prototype, a spokesman for the department has confirmed that plainclothes officers visited, but did not enter, the residence with Apple security officials.

The back-and-forth saga over an iPhone 5 prototype that was reportedly lost in a bar in July took on new twists after the San Francisco Police Department first denied, then confirmed, its involvement in the search for the device. SFPD spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfeld told SF Weekly on Friday that "three or four" officers accompanied two Apple security officials to a home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of the city.

Though a separate spokesperson had originally been unable to find a record of the investigation, Dangerfeld confirmed the visit to 22-year-old Sergio Calderón's house after speaking with Apple and the captain of the Ingleside police station. The police officers "did not go inside the house," instead standing outside while Apple's employees searched Calderón's house, car and computer.

"Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item, and some plainclothes officers responded out to the house with them," Dangerfield said. "My understanding is that they stood outside...They just assisted Apple to the address."

For his part, Calderón claims that he was led to believe that all of the visitors were police officers, as none of them identified themselves as working for Apple. "When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD," he said. "I thought they were SFPD. That's why I let them in."

Calderón also alleged he was threatened by the police during the visit. "One of the officers is like, 'Is everyone in this house an American citizen?' They said we were all going to get into trouble," he said.

But, Dangerfeld said that there did not appear to be any evidence that Apple's security team had falsely represented themselves as police officers. "I don't have any indication of that. I'm not going to go there," he said, adding that he plans to speak with Calderón about the incident.

Details of the missing iPhone prototype first emerged earlier this week. Apple reportedly scrambled to recover the device once it discovered it was missing, using GPS to track the prototype from the Cava22 bar (pictured below) in the Mission to Bernal Heights.

The incident contains an eery resemblance to last year's drama over an iPhone 4 prototype, which was left in a bar in Redwood City and eventually sold to a publication. Police have charged two individuals with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property. However, Gawker Media, which reportedly paid $5000 to obtain the device, will not face charges.