'Lost' iPhone 4G brouhaha: Jobs gets on the job
Femme fatale unmasked prototype-napper
Apple CEO Steve Jobs intervened in the Case of the Purloined iPhone, personally contacting Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to ask for the return of the missing iPhone 4G prototype.
That tidbit - told by Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell to Detective Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office - was revealed today by the unsealing of the search warrant behind the search of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home. A copy of the full set of search warrant documents can be found here (thanks, Wired).
In addition to Jobs' direct involvement in the case, Det. Broad's detailed recounting of the events leading up to the search of Chen's home is chock-full of intrigue. Some high points:
- In a meeting on April 20 with Sewell, Apple lawyer George Riley, and Apple director of information security Rick Orloff, Det. Broad asked Riley what the value of the missing iPhone was. Riley said it was "invaluable".
- In the same meeting, Orloff said that he had been called by a woman who identified herself as Katherine Martinson, who told him that her roommate, Brian Hogan, had sold the now-famous phone to Gizmodo.
- Martinson called the cops because Hogan had hooked the purloined phone up to her computer, and she feared that Apple would trace the phone to her by way of her IP address. She also called Apple, as Det. Broad put it, "in order to absolve herself of criminal responsibility.
- After his website had released its original iPhone 4G story, and after he had been contacted by Steve Jobs, Gizmodo editor Brian Lam wrote Steve Jobs an "off the record" email, reproduced in full in the affidavit, asking Jobs to confirm that the phone was an actual Apple prototype: "I want to get this phone back to you ASAP. And I want to not hurt your sales when the products themselves deserve love. But I have to get this story of the missing prototype out, and how it was returned to apple, with some acknowledgement it is Apple's."
- In that same email, Lam wrote: "I know you like walt [Mossberg] and [David] pogue, but I think Gizmodo has more in common with old Apple than those guys do. So I hope you understand where I'm coming from."
- In a subsequent email to Sewell providing Apple with Jason Chen's address, Lam included a postscript: "I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don't think he loves anything more than Apple except, well, beer. Maybe some spankings."
- After he found the phone, Hogan told Martinson that he had discovered that it belonged to Apple engineer Gray Powell through Powell's Facebook page, presumably accessed using the phone. Martinson and Hogan then "conducted an Internet search" for Powell, and learned that he was an Apple engineer.
- In Det. Broad's words, "Martinson said Hogan understood that he possessed a valuable piece of technology and that people would be interested in buying it. He subsequently contacted the periodicals Gizmodo.com, PC World, and Engadget.com in an attempt to start bidding for the iPhone prototype."
- Martinson said that 10 days later, Jason Chen offered Hogan $10,000 for the phone. When she asked him why Gizmodo would pay that much, Hogan offered the opinion that: "They know its valuable. They would receive millions and millions of hits."
- Martinson said that she and friends tried to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, arguing that doing so would sink Powell's career. Hogan's response, according to Martinson: "Sucks for him. He lost the phone. Shouldn't have lost the phone."
- Hogan later showed Martinson a camera box that contained $5,000 in hundred-dollar bills, and told her that the full amount that he had received from Gizmodo was $8,500, and that he was due a cash bonus from Gizmodo "if and when" Apple announced the new iPhone.
- While Det. Broad was preparing a search warrant for Hogan's home, he received a phone call from Martinson telling him that Hogan and his roommate Thomas Warner, in Det. Broad's words, "were aware of the investigation and were in the process of removing evidence [a CompactFlash card with photos of the phone, the phone's serial-number sticker, and the like] from the residence".
- Det. Broad responded, and eventually found Hogan at his parents' house. There Hogan told him that Warner had taken the evidence in order to "protect" him.
- Hours later, Det. Broad found Warner, who told him that he had lost the missing iPhone's serial-number sticker at a gas station. After a record check turned up the fact that Warner had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants, he was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, where he told another detective to look for the missing pieces of evidence under a bush in Redwood City - which is where Det. Broad found them. He then found the sticker at the gas station.
At that point, Det. Broad felt he had enough evidence to support issuing a search warrant for the home of Jason Chen. That warrant was issued, and the search was conducted.
It remains unclear whether the items taken from Chen's home will be admissible as evidence or whether he, as a Gizmodo editor, will be protected by journalist shield laws. But a few other facts are, indeed, certain.
First, that Katherine Martinson won't soon be invited to a quiet evening of bemused reminiscing with Brian Hogan and Thomas Warner.
And second, regarding Hogan: "Sucks for him. He stole and sold the phone. Shouldn't have stole and sold the phone." ®
Martinson has great restraint.
"Martinson called the cops because Hogan had hooked the purloined phone up to her computer..."
I think that shows she has great restraint, and sensibility.
If someone hooked up some Apple iCrap to *MY* computer, I'd go properly postal.
Speak for yourself!
"Face it, not 1 person in Britain would return a wallet full of cash"
I have, and would continue to do so, and people like you that would take advantage sicken me.
You're missing the point that laws were broken, and intellectual property was handled for financial gain.
What a cheerfully sordid little story this is. I feel bad for the Apple engineer and Martinson who tried to convince the idiot phone thief to do the right thing. The former is probably on his way to unemployment and the latter will soon be turfed out by her pissed off flatmates. Gizmodo have also shown themselves to be gutter journalists by not only handling stolen goods and blackmailing Apple but also by humiliating the careless engineer just to score points.
Must just be you
I've returned at least three personally. One in the car park behind my house, several left behind at a karate club, I returned a credit card that was left in a card reader in a store I worked in once (and nobody else saw it and it was only discovered after-hours - it went straight into the work safe when I found it and the bank notified next morning).
My wife's returned several more, including one with several thousand pounds in cash - turned out to belong to a penniless student who'd been loaned the money by her parents and was taking it to a debt collection agency to clear her debts in order to stop her possessions being repossessed. Cash was the only thing they'd accept, and if she didn't pay she'd have lost everything - as it was she was already owing her parents thousands - can you imagine what would happen if she hadn't had that handed back to her? You have *never* seen a more grateful person in your life. If you could sleep well at night knowing that you'd just taken that money, I don't think I'd want to know you.
Also, my wife used to be very clumsy before I met her and she lost her purse several times - every time it was returned with all the cash / cards intact. So we're not the only ones out there.
A theft is a theft. Technically picking up 10p from the street without handing it over to the cops and waiting for a 6-month "ownership claim" period is theft. However, if no-one claims it, it's legally yours after that time and the police will return it to you - no matter how much money it is.
Theft is the taking of property not belonging to you with an intention to permanently deprive. I think that applies here to someone that SOLD the device on to a tech website who then opened the thing up after they *made* the company that owned it disable it via a remote security protocol. Legally, you deprived them when you sold it (and that's handling stolen goods in itself, not to mention a list of other crimes), and the "fence" at Gizmodo then categorically destroyed the device. That's criminal damage, for a start, and intention to permanently deprive. Reading this story, you can tell just from the attitude and the things cited that both "handlers" were idiots and deserve to be arrested, if not charged.
Now, the 10p thing is different because it's almost untraceable but I'd let you off with interpreting the law loosely in that case... but a wallet will contain identification, obviously "belongs" to someone, who WILL be looking for it and who will almost certainly try to reclaim it from the police, local shop, security, whatever. You've gotta be a scumbag to do more than look inside it in the hopes of being able to contact the owner. Same with the phone. It belonged to someone - whether that's a company, individual (how do you know the original Apple guy didn't buy that phone on some special internal Apple sale with his hard-earned money, and thus was HIS property?), or whatever, it wasn't theirs to mess with. They crossed the line the second they thought about selling / buying it.
And I hope you never lose your wallet at a critical point in your life - and I only hope that because I'm actually a nice person - I think it would be all too easy to laugh at you if you did.
All of this..
over a bloody phone? Seriously? You have to love the USA.