A gift card scam ruling and instrument recovery in the Apple Crime Blotter

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Man arrested after damning iPhone search, fake Walmart employee steals AirPods, and another iPhone-related arrest in the Capitol riot.

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

iPhone search for "how to set your car on fire" leads to arson charges

A Pennsylvania man who reported that his car had been stolen was later arrested after police got a warrant for his iPhone, and found something damning in his search history.

According to CBS 10, police were suspicious of the man's claims about the theft. Upon searching the iPhone, they found a search he had performed for the phrase "how to set your car on fire and make it look like an accident."

The man was charged with arson, false reports, and risking a catastrophe.

Apple not responsible for gift card scams, judge says

A federal judge in early March tossed out a lawsuit alleging that Apple had held some responsibility for certain gift card scams. Courthouse News reports U.S. District Judge Ed Davila found that Apple was not responsible for the scams that had victimized the seven plaintiffs.

"Plaintiffs failed to establish that Apple gave 'substantial assistance or encouragement' to the alleged perpetrators of the gift card scam," the judge wrote.

Judge Davila has presided over Apple-related cases before, including the throttling lawsuit that Apple agreed to settle in 2020.

Fake Walmart employee stole 15 pairs of AirPods, police say

A man was able to steal nearly $3,000 worth of AirPods from a Walmart by dressing as an employee of the store. According to KIRO, which cited the local sheriff's office, the man wore a blue vest similar to those of Walmart employees, and somehow obtained a key which he used to unlock a storage case.

After grabbing 15 pairs of AirPods, the man left the store without paying.

Man arrested for role in Capitol attack ditched iPhone, authorities say

There's been another instance of an iPhone playing a role in the arrest of a participant in the January 6 Capitol riot.

The Associated Press reveals a New Jersey man who is associated with the Oath Keepers political movement has been charged with multiple crimes. These include "obstructing an official proceeding and aiding and abetting obstruction of an official proceeding, being present in a restricted building or grounds, and tampering with documents of proceedings."

That obstruction, prosecutors alleged in court, involved the man "getting rid of" his iPhone in the weeks after the attack.

The same man reportedly, on the day of the riot, provided security for former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone. Stone himself faced, and was convicted of, federal charges related to evidence uncovered from his iCloud account, but was pardoned in late 2020 by then-President Trump.

Oklahoma man gets two years for casino iPhone theft

A man in Oklahoma has been sentenced to two years after he pled guilty to stealing an iPhone at the Cimarron Casino in January 2020. According to 100 KUSH, both Find My iPhone and casino security footage played a role in his apprehension.

The man is already in prison for violating probation from a previous robbery conviction, and the new sentence will run concurrently with his existing sentence.

School employee accused of stealing iPads

A former employee of the Dothan City Schools in Alabama has been arrested after stolen iPads from the school system were found in his possession. The Dothan Eagle writes the 43-year-old man, who worked as a tech specialist, was charged with third-degree receiving stolen property, after he was found in possession of "two iPad 4s, two iPad Airs [and] one iPad Mini."

Search of iPhone helped catch man accused of distributing child pornography

A man in Florida was recently brought up on federal child pornography charges, and authorities say thousands of offending images and videos were found on his iPhone. Department of Justice said the 41-year-old radiology technician was arrested following an operation in which an FBI task force officer was moderating a specific app.

A search of the man's iPhone discovered "at least 2,000 images, and at least 10 videos, depicting child sexual abuse," the DOJ said.

Man recovers iPad — but not Glock — using Find My iPhone

An Oklahoma man who had his iPad — as well as his Glock 19-x — stolen from his truck used Find My iPhone to track down the device. KXII reports the man found the iPad in a wooded area - and also the thief, who was "squatted behind branches hidden from the highway."

The man also said he had "bought another handgun" before going to look for his lost items, although he called 911 upon seeing the thief.

iPad stolen, along with hockey cards

A variety of items were stolen from a building in Prince George, British Columbia, including an iPad, $10,000 in vintage coins, multiple laptops, a set of "high-end" hockey cards, and "several hundred dollars in old currency." According to Prince George Matters, a man was found with some of the stolen hockey cards, and he may face charges.

Symphony director who lost MacBook and bassoon reunited with bassoon

The music director and bassoon player of the San Bernardino Symphony lost several prized items, including his MacBook and his Schreiber bassoon, in a car burglary in March of 2020. Nearly a year later, Anthony Parnther was able to recover the bassoon, which had been a gift from his since-deceased mother when he was in high school.

Per The Los Angeles Times, the bassoon turned up at a swap meet, and after Parnther has since played it in a recording session for a movie. The MacBook appears to still be missing.

Bassist lost iPad, but gets his bass back

That wasn't the only recent case involving a professional musician losing his prized instrument, along with an Apple product, and getting the instrument back. According to Lehigh Valley Live, bass player Greg Smith had several items stolen in 2016 from his truck outside a bar in Allentown, including an iPad, cables, amps, and his rare customized Fender bass.

Smith, who has played for years with Ted Nugent, was reunited with the instrument in March after a friend spotted it on Facebook Marketplace. In exchange for the bass — a rare instrument that was "customized with a blowtorch by legendary bass-amp maker Larry Hartke" — Smith agreed to give the seller $100, a poster signed by Nugent, and "a whole bunch of guitar picks."

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