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Crime blotter: UPS catches Apple product thieves in sting

The Apple Store in Emeryville, Calif.

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In this week's Apple crime roundup, the Citizen app uses Apple Store theft footage in advertising, a Philadelphia Police scandal involving a smartphone app, stolen softball gear recovered thanks to AirTag, and more!

As we do every other Sunday, this is the latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at the world of Apple-related crime.

UPS used fake iPhones and AirPods in a sting on employees

The United Parcel Service used fake iPhones, AirPods, and additional Apple gear to nab Florida-based employees suspected of stealing from packages.

According to Boca News Now, which cited the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, four men were arrested for their parts in a scheme to "intercept" $52,000 worth of gear. The scheme involved "ghost labels," intending to deliver the stolen phones to Boost Mobile.

After they were caught, the defendants were charged with organized scheme to defraud. The fourth was charged with grand theft, obtaining property by fraud, tampering with physical evidence, and dealing in stolen property.

Citizen App uses Apple Store theft footage in online ads

The mobile app Citizen, which provides safety and crime alerts for its users, has begun featuring footage from a particularly notorious Apple Store theft in its online advertising.

The ad on X, formerly Twitter, features a video of a thief grabbing display iPhones from an Apple Store and running past a police car parked outside the store.

That theft occurred in February at the Apple Store in Emeryville, Calif., and the person in the video was arrested shortly afterward. Local police said that the police car seen in the video was a "ghost car" meant to serve as a deterrent and that no officer was present.

Philadelphia police secretly used surveillance cameras smartphone app, leading to exonerations

A narcotics unit in the Philadelphia Police Department has been using a smartphone app to control pole-mounted surveillance cameras while not disclosing having done so in arrest reports or in court. In addition, police have "fabricated reports, hid video evidence, and, in some cases, testified falsely against innocent people."

That's according to a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation, which disclosed the department's use of the app for the first time, which comes from a vendor called Genetic. Genetic's Security Center app is available in the App Store.

The improper use has led to the dropping of dozens of criminal cases.

Three arrested for $13,000 worth of "mostly" Apple products near mall

Police in San Jose in late April arrested three suspects, including one juvenile, for the theft of $13,000 of stolen merchandise, described as "mostly Apple products."

According to The San Jose Mercury News, the suspects were found near Valley Fair Mall with the stolen product "either on them or in their vehicle."

All three were booked on suspicion of felony organized retail theft.

Daughter of Mohamed al-Fayed denies stealing brother's iPhone

Two children of the late Egyptian businessman Mohamed al-Fayed are fighting over an iPhone, sparking the interest of both the criminal justice system and the British tabloids.

According to The Express, Camilla Fayed has been accused of stealing an iPhone belonging to her brother, Omar Fayed, from the gym of their family's estate. Camilla, her husband, and two protection officers were charged with the theft, but all have pled not guilty.

Mohamed al-Fayed passed away in 2023. His son Dodi died along with Princess Diana in a 1997 car accident.

Amazon employee accused of stealing Apple Watches

An 18-year-old man who worked for Amazon has been charged with the theft of 36 Apple Watches.

According to WMC, the Tennessee man was caught after Amazon Loss Prevention discovered several empty Apple Watch boxes in their warehouse. Surveillance video showed the man, along with accomplices, unboxing the product.

He was charged with property theft [between] $10,000-$60,000.

Suspects sought in theft of Apple Watches in Canada

Ontario Provincial Police are looking for thieves caught on video stealing $16,000 worth of Apple Watches from a store in Wellington County.

According to CTV News, the theft appears to have been carried out by three people, one of whom acted as a lookout:

Stolen softball gear recovered thanks to AirTag

A high school softball team in Texas had their equipment stolen from their bus before a playoff game. But they managed to recover the lost items, thanks to an AirTag.

According to My San Antonio, police traced the equipment and found it in nearby Odessa. The AirTag "helped tremendously in the recovery of the stolen equipment," police told the media outlet.

The Keller High School team won their playoff game on May 3.

Notorious TikTok influencer convicted of 2022 iPhone theft

A British TikTok prankster known as "Mizzy" — described by The Daily Mail as a "TikTok menace" — has been found guilty of the summer 2022 theft of an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Per the newspaper, Mizzy stole the iPhone from a woman and was then knocked off his electric bike by an officer. The Mail describes him as a "notorious social media influencer who became infamous for a series of stunts which saw him enter people's houses at random and film himself." However, he has since been banned from posting to platforms. He is set to stand trialin July in an unrelated case.