Crime blotter: Federal indictment for Charlotte phone store owners

Apple Store in Oakbrook, Ill.

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In the latest Apple Crime Blotter, an iPhone theft video goes viral, Find My iPhone helps bust a car theft ring, and an iPhone seller is threatened with a knife.

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

Two businessmen indicted for scheme involving stolen iPhones

The federal government has indicted two Charlotte-based businessmen who own wireless phone stores. The two men, per the press release from the Justice Department, "purchased thousands of stolen and fraudulently obtained iPhones and other electronic devices, which they then sold and shipped to buyers in other states and in foreign countries."

The alleged scheme began as early as 2013 and continued through 2020, the release said. It entailed the two men receiving the phones from boosters, as well as middlemen described as vendors, and then selling them overseas. The two men, the Justice Department said, "sold and shipped through Cellport more than 20,000 new iPhones" during a one-year period between 2019 and 2020, while knowing that some of them were stolen.

Video goes viral of Best Buy employees stopping iPhone thieves

In a video that appeared online in early May, three people attempted to grab what appeared to be iPhones from a table at a Best Buy location — only to be blocked by three store employees who employed a defense that seemed inspired by the NFL. (Warning: Video contains some rough language):

The location of the store, and when the attempted theft took place, have not been publicly disclosed, and Best Buy has not responded to requests from various media outlets seeking comment. Much of the commentary about the video has centered on the defensive skills of the employees, and that Best Buy store policy forbids employees from physically restraining shoplifters.

Credit card from stolen wallet was used at Apple Store near Chicago

A wallet was stolen at the Oakbrook Center Mall in suburban Chicago in late April, leading to a police chase and eventual arrest- but not before a credit card from the wallet was used at the same mall's Apple Store.

According to ABC 7, the man and woman believed responsible for the theft were caught in a minivan with no plates near the mall. The man, who fled on foot, was arrested.

Find My iPhone helped bust car theft ring in San Francisco

Police and prosecutors in San Francisco in mid-May busted a ring that was stealing cars, and the items within them, while operating out of a boba tea shop. SFist reports one person who participated in the investigation used Find My iPhone to trace the stolen item to a store next to the tea shop, and eventually to Hong Kong.

The bust recovered more than 1,000 electronic devices, which the DA's office plans to return to their owners.

School choir director arrested for sexual conduct with a student after husband found evidence on iPad

A woman in Pennsylvania who worked as a school choir director has been charged with sexual assault and unlawful contact with a minor. According to WTAE, the alleged misconduct came to light after the woman's husband found incriminating messages, between the choir director and a female student, on the woman's iPad. The husband then reported the messages to authorities.

The woman's predecessor as choir director, the report said, had also faced charges of institutional sexual assault.

iPhone search, Instagram pictures helped catch Detroit man arrested for guns, unemployment fraud

A Detroit man was recently arrested on a litany of charges, including drug, weapons, and unemployment fraud charges, and it appears his online behavior was his downfall.

According to Click on Detroit, the man had used his Instagram account to post pictures of himself with guns, which due to probation he is not allowed to possess, as well as drugs. And, per the report, the man's iPhone was used several times to access California's unemployment claims website, leading to charges of unemployment fraud.

Man pleads guilty to stealing more than 40 iPhones

A man in Colorado has pled guilty to stealing 41 iPhones from an area Walmart. Cody Enterprise writes the man was shown on surveillance video manipulating a partially-locked cage to take the items. He was also shown using a backpack, which was also stolen, to hold them.

The man was sentenced to 3-5 years in prison, and must also pay $32,650 in restitution.

Seller threatened with knife during Facebook Marketplace sale of iPhone

A New Zealand man who listed a new iPhone 13 Pro for sale on Facebook Marketplace met the buyer at his own door- only to be robbed of the phone at knifepoint by two thieves. According to the NZ Herald, the theft took place at 3 in the afternoon, as the man's wife and children watched. After a scuffle, the male thief got away with the phone.

According to the victim, the thieves listed the same phone on Facebook Marketplace just 15 minutes later. The female thief was later arrested, while the male thief's father apologized to the victim.