• Home
  • Apple
  • iPhone
  • News
  • Apple’s Neutral Theft Policies Allow Thieves to Snag Free Replacement iPhones

Apple’s Neutral Theft Policies Allow Thieves to Snag Free Replacement iPhones

Apple’s Neutral Theft Policies Allow Thieves to Snag Free Replacement iPhones

Apple’s neutral policy on device theft is once again under scrutiny after the company replaced a stolen iPhone for a thief, even after the customer had his device flagged as stolen and blocked on his carrier’s mobile network.

Scott Barkley was out drinking with some friends, only to have his coat stolen (with his iPhone 4S, car keys and wallet inside) while he was enjoying himself. Barkley promptly had his credit cards cancelled and had the iPhone blocked from his carrier’s network, and then filed a police report.

Barkley was surprised to receive an email from Apple the next day stating that he had booked a Genius Bar appointment about his iPhone at his local Apple Store.

As it turns out, the thief had scheduled the appointment to attempt to have the device unblocked – and Apple replaced the phone for the thief, despite it being registered under someone else’s name and being blocked on the network.

 The Toronto Star details the rest of the story:

[Barkley] called the store to tell them that the person who showed up for that appointment would probably be carrying his stolen phone.

Perhaps, Barkley asked the clerk on the phone, Apple might want to notify mall security? Barkley was told it is Apple’s policy not to get involved in such matters.

It’s pretty shocking that, even after being alerted that the stoled iPhone would be making an appearance at the Apple Store, Apple refused to get involved, and further replaced the iPhone even considering the dubious circumstances.

Fortunately for Barkley, police got involved and were able to get the phone back from Apple before it was returned for servicing. Meanwhile, the thief walked away with a brand new replacement iPhone for free.

Detectives called Barkley to tell him he could pick up his phone at the police station. It turns out someone did come in with the phone – before Barkley and the police arrived – with a story about buying it from a friend of Barkley’s uncle, only to find the phone didn’t work. In fact, it wasn’t working because Barkley had had the service disconnected.

The Apple clerk at the Genius Bar assumed it was a phone malfunction, and seemingly without checking to make sure, handed the man a brand new phone and put Barkley’s stolen phone in the back, to be sent off for servicing.

In the end, it’s Apple who ends up several hundred dollars short, raising important questions as to whether they’re policy of not getting involved in such incidents is really a good idea. How many iPhones does Apple replace for thieves, and how much is it costing Apple and their customers alike? Barkley had the following to say:

“I think it amused them to do something nice, to get someone’s phone back. I think they were amazed by the whole disinterest. The thief got their phone, I got mine and because of their own indifference, Apple is out a $500 phone.”

While Apple’s policy seems reasonable at face value to protect the safety of their employees (not asking their employees to confront possible criminals), should Apple have at least phoned the police about the incident?

They can surely afford to take the loss, and may be choosing to do so rather than confronting criminals, but the question remains: Should Apple be doing more about these types of incidents?