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FBI investigates Capitol attack iPhone data & school iPad recoveries in the Apple Crime Blotter

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The FBI collects location data as evidence for the Capitol attack investigation, an arrest over an iPhone viral video, an armed robbery of a Boost Mobile store, and more in this week's Apple Crime Blotter.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at news from the world of Apple-related crime.

Capitol insurrection participants could be caught from iPhone and smartphone data

When hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol during the counting of the 2020 electoral votes, one thing was very noticeable: Many of them were holding up iPhones.

In the days that followed the January 8 capitol attack, it was clear that iPhones would be playing a big part in the arrests and eventual prosecutions of some participants. Many of those who took part in the insurrection not only shot and streamed footage, but they were glimpsed on the cameras of photos and videos shot by others, sometimes in the act of committing crimes.

Those phones were emiting location data, and law enforcement agencies have also been using facial recognition technology, including the controversial application Clearview AI, which Apple banned in February 2020.

The FBI, per The Verge, has collected more than 100,000 pieces of digital evidence related to the Capitol attack, and more than 170 cases had been opened as of January 12. At least one criminal complaint for a person charged in connection with the attack specifically referenced an iPhone search, which turned up location data.

Meanwhile, several members of Congress reported computers being stolen from their offices. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership, was originally reported to have had his iPad stolen during the insurrection, although it was later determined that a staffer had moved it, reports CNN.

Woman who accused a teenager of stealing her iPhone in viral video is arrested

The woman featured in a viral video in December in which she accused a Black teenager of stealing her iPhone at a hotel in New York — and later appeared to assault him — has been arrested. According to CBS News, the 22-year-old woman was arrested in her home state of California and faces several charges, including attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, endangering the welfare of a child, and attempted assault.

New Apple patent appears to show security method for Apple Store tables

The pandemic has led to a significant decline in reports about grab-and-run robberies at Apple Stores, but Apple appears to be thinking about how to handle that problem in a post-coronavirus world. Patently Apple spotted that Apple had filed a patent application in early 2020 for a technology called "Product-Display System." Listing George Yang as the primary inventor, the application describes the new system as "a product-display system for displaying and securing a retail product."

Police seek two accused in fraudulent purchase at New Jersey Apple Store

A man and a woman are wanted in northern New Jersey on suspicion that they stole someone's identity, ordered an iPhone online, and then picked it up at the Apple Store in Bridgewater, N.J. According to Tap Into the Breeze, the two people were spotted in security footage near the store.

82 iPads stolen from Ontario schools are recovered

More than 80 iPads that were stolen from the public schools in Brampton, Ont., have now been recovered. CTV News reports there were multiple overnight break-ins at the schools over the course of several months, when the iPads and MacBooks were taken.

A 17-year-old from Brampton has been charged in connection with the thefts.

FBI used smartphone data to track down Ghislaine Maxwell

The arrests in July of accused sex trafficker and Jeffrey Epstein co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell in New Hampshire were made possible by the FBI tracking Maxwell's cell phone data. The Daily Beast writes Maxwell "opened a mobile account under the name 'G Max,' and used it to communicate with those close with her.

It's not known if it was Maxwell's iPhone that was ultimately tracked, although it was reported after her arrest that Maxwell had an iPhone and iPad with her during her time living incognito. Also, the FBI had "found a cell phone wrapped in tin foil among her possessions."

14 iPhones taken in armed robbery of Boost Mobile

A Pennsylvania man was arrested in December and charged with six felonies after he was accused of robbing a Boost Mobile store of 14 iPhones at gunpoint. According to, the same man was also charged with robbing a Family Dollar store.

$100,000 jewelry theft included an Apple Watch

A South Carolina man reported that over $100,000 of jewelry was stolen from his home, with a silver Apple Watch among the items taken.

The Times and Democrat reports that, in addition to the Apple Watch, the items taken included "a tiger-eye ring, a black diamond bracelet, a sapphire ankle bracelet, a sapphire bracelet, a sapphire ring, a cognac diamond ring, a black diamond ring, a large black dog tag and chain, a gold diamond, a 4-karat diamond pinky ring, a gold Rolex watch with a black face."

Meanwhile, another man living in the same residence reported the theft of "$150 in one-dollar bills that he'd kept in a jar."

Amazon employees in India accused of stealing iPhones

Two employees of an Amazon warehouse in Gurugram, India, have been arrested for the alleged theft of 38 iPhones. According to, the thefts came when security checks at the facility had been suspended due to coronavirus.

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