Apple replaces stolen iPad for thief, leaves victim hanging | iLounge News


Apple replaces stolen iPad for thief, leaves victim hanging

In a new twist on an old problem with stolen Apple devices, a thief successfully convinced the Apple Store to swap a stolen iPad 2 for a new device with a different serial number, after which Apple refused to help the victim of the crime. iLounge reader Dan Chang says that he purchased a black 64GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G from the Apple Store Tysons Corner in May, and the device was stolen less than a week later. Chang filed a police report and was told that the iPad’s serial number would show up as a stolen item if sold to a pawn shop. On June 6, Chang used Apple’s Service and Repair tool to check the serial number of the stolen iPad, and received the following message: “We’re sorry, but this is a serial number for a product that has been replaced… If your information is correct, you may need to contact us.”

Chang followed the instructions and contacted Apple Customer Service, providing the company with his serial number. Apple confirmed that the iPad 2 had been replaced at another local Apple Store based on a battery-related complaint, and told Chang to visit the Store in person to discuss the matter. During his visit, the manager told Chang that she was not responsible for his stolen iPad, and told him to call Apple Customer Service, which he had already done.

Again following instructions, Chang was told that the iPad had been “recycled” and was no longer traceable; further, the representative said that Apple was not responsible for the stolen item, and that he should contact the police to try and catch the thief. In the end, Chang ended up without his $870 iPad 2, which he says he will not be replacing with another iPad or any other Apple product. He says he wishes that the thief had taken the stolen iPad to a pawn shop, where at least it could have been reclaimed thanks to the serial number tracking system, instead of to an Apple Store, where it was accepted with no questions asked and with no recourse available to the victim. The absence of a simple online Apple tool enabling users to report the loss or theft of their devices is at least partially to blame for this problem.

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In the UK if you buy something that has been stolen and it is traced back, then it can be taken from you and given back to the rightful owner. You they buyer loose out, it is assumed that you should check who you are buying from. Apple have effectively bought this iPad and paid with another iPad rather than cash, presumably they still have the iPad so maybe they should be forced to give it back to the rightful owner, you would kind of hope now that it is getting publicity they will anyway.

Posted by Skytribe on June 10, 2011 at 11:33 AM (CDT)


Funny how apple wants their stolen property back (iPhone prototype), but refuses to give other people’s stolen property back.  Pretty sad.

Take Apple to small claims court. If they have your property they need to return it. The fact they gave an iPad to someone is not pertinent.

Posted by BigRedDog on June 10, 2011 at 12:01 PM (CDT)


Apple doesn’t care.  Buy a new one. Problem solved.

—Steve Jobs

Sent from my iPhone

Posted by jimmyBobSmith on June 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


How would you suggest Apple verify the rightful ownership of every product that is brought to the Genius Bar for service?

Posted by g33kboi on June 10, 2011 at 12:16 PM (CDT)


@g33kboi:  By doing what almost every other shop does - asking to see the receipt or other paperwork as proof of ownership.

Posted by Greg Edwards on June 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM (CDT)


Um….isn’t Apple in possession of stolen goods at this point? Isn’t that against the law? Aren’t the goods, by law, supposed to be returned to the owner? Seems the police aren’t doing their job too, if they are not investigating who received the goods from the thief and following up with charges.

Posted by LaRock on June 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM (CDT)


Come on Apple! Do the right thing and replace the guys iPad!

Posted by Michael on June 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM (CDT)


Why didn’t this guy just use Find My iPhone to find his iPad?  He had the 3G model which has GPS, so he should’ve been able to find it almost immediately.  He’s beginning to just sound lazy.  When I dropped my iPhone 3G back before Find My iPhone was a thing, I made reward posters and placed the up in the area I lost it and sure enough a couple days later had my phone back.

Posted by Brianbobcat on June 10, 2011 at 2:15 PM (CDT)


@Brianbobcat Agree that “Find my iPhone” is an easy solution, counter to the article’s comment “The absence of a simple online Apple tool enabling users to report the loss or theft of their devices is at least partially to blame for this problem.”

Disagree that the guy’s being lazy. He called the cops, checked online, called Apple Customer Care, and went to the store. He’s probably talking to the police again now about what he can do. There’s really not a whole lot (besides installing “Find my iPhone” on your iPad) that he could have done.

Posted by Dave on June 10, 2011 at 2:34 PM (CDT)


There is actually a very simple way the Genius Bar/Apple Store can quickly verify ownership of iDevices brought in for service. An iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is (almost always) linked directly to an Apple ID. Would it be difficult to require that a customer provide a picture ID that at least comes close to the name associated with the Apple ID? I say “at least close” because my wife and daughters have iPhones/iPods/iPads that are all linked to only my Apple ID (for ease of sharing iTunes content across everyones devices). But if their last name matches mine (and even matches their own MobileMe sub-accounts directly), even a quick call/text/email to me could get them service if I am not present.

We have the technology. We can rebuild this lacking system.

With that said, I also do not feel Apple is liable in this case. It would be nice if they stepped up and simply replaced this iPad. But, on the other hand, that could open the floodgates to people that can claim something similar. It is a slippery slope no matter how you look at it.

Posted by Mitch on June 10, 2011 at 2:40 PM (CDT)


I don’t understand how this guy managed to not find his iPad all on his own.  Unless he’s pretty stupid, he would have set up the Find My iPhone app on the device.  Given that this was apparently a 3G-enabled iPad, its location should have been tracked easily, and he should have jumped on it as soon as he saw that it was in the vicinity of an Apple Store.

Posted by didymos! on June 10, 2011 at 5:29 PM (CDT)


Lots of idiotic Monday morning QBing here. Find My iPod or not, the odds this guy could have got his iPad back on his own are only somewhat better than him being a superhero. I guess everyone making these comments has no job or responsibilities, a personal helicopter with permission to land on rooftops, a 3G enabled laptop, and, oh yeah, an armed posse and a license to kill.

Apple is hiding behind a technicality: they recycled the stolen property so they want to pretend they can’t return what they are specifically obligated to do under the law. For a multi-billion dollar multi-national corporation, that’s some serious splitting hairs just to earn bad PR.

Posted by Code Monkey on June 10, 2011 at 6:20 PM (CDT)


Yes, the QB’s neglect to mention that the “Find my iPhone” app has to be installed and activated in order to be of any help. Sure, the guy could have (and should have) done that, but not all buyers are aware of its existence.  Perhaps Apple could pre-install it, or at least include a small flyer to inform new buyers about it and let them decide.

And as far as the Apple ID goes, that can be erased and replaced by Restoring the device, giving Apple the impression that the device actually belongs to the thief.

But even so, if Apple has any sense of PR they will make this right for the guy.

Posted by rockmyplimsoul on June 10, 2011 at 7:49 PM (CDT)


I run a pub and we found an iPod, so it went into lost property.

After two weeks, and no-one having come in to claim it, I took it to the local Apple store, thinking I would hand it into them and they could contact the owner.

They refused to take it, and gave me some Excuse about the data protection act.

I’m going to go in again next week, and if they refuse again, just put it down on the counter and walk out.

What would they do if a genuine customer left their iPod on the desk in there?

I will let you know next week.

Posted by Ian on June 11, 2011 at 1:16 AM (CDT)


The “Find my iPhone” app has its limit. What happen if the thief just turn off the iPhone/iPad or remove the sim card?

Posted by Siuto on June 11, 2011 at 8:30 AM (CDT)


You’re forgetting - people eBay thousands of Apple products every day and the owners selling said products certainly won’y be updating that serial information with Apple. Also, BestBuy, Walmart, and dozens of other places sell serialized Apple hardware. How’s Apple supposed to capture that data? The burden’s not on Apple.

Posted by anon on June 11, 2011 at 12:21 PM (CDT)


@16: Your comment is not even remotely related to the story.

Apple, unquestioningly, received stolen property from a thief. Apple, unquestioningly, knows they received stolen property from a thief. Apple, knowingly, confirmed with the real owner of the iPad that they had received the stolen property from a thief.

The only matter for debate here is does Apple, having dismantled the owner’s iPad prior to finding out it was stolen, have any burden to return it.

Now, what BestBuy and eBay sales of Apple merchandise have to do with that, I have not a clue and I’ll bet neither do you.

Posted by Code Monkey on June 11, 2011 at 1:27 PM (CDT)


The really odd part about Apple’s hair splitting and the lack of enforcement from authorities is in Virginia there’s no protection for Apple. If you pay $100,000 for a fancy car in good faith from someone who it turns out stole the car, the police come and take “your” car and, even if they capture the car thieves, you’re still out the $100,000 and won’t get it back without cooperation from or a lawsuit against the thieves.

I’m really not sure what Apple is trying to accomplish here because they’re probably legally obligated to replace the guy’s iPad since they did intentionally destroy his property. Why would you have ever let this become news?

Posted by Code Monkey on June 11, 2011 at 1:32 PM (CDT)


They gave the guy whose wife told him he couldn’t get an ipad a free one.

Can’t they make it right for this poor slob?

Posted by Dick Bacon on June 11, 2011 at 8:07 PM (CDT)


OK, calm down people.

The system that the police use does not feed into Apple’s system. Similarly Apple is not the police and will make the reasonable assumption based on a face to face interaction that the person with the product in their hand owns the product… If the computer repair shop i worked in asked every customer who bought in their computer for their receipt- i would be repairing less machines. And if the customer said i bought it from someone who didn’t give me a receipt would I deny them a repair- hell no.

When the iPad was replaced, a service of that product was completed- it has been recycled and that serial number no longer exists. I suppose what Apple could do is give the guy the serial number it was replaced with so that could be added to the case… But guess what- Apple would be breaking the law by giving that information to a member of the public… whereas if the police asked they wouldn’t be.

So in fact- in a twisted way, Apple are right to refer this back to the police. All the police do is ask apple for the new serial number, then put that on a blacklist instead.

Posted by Code minnow on June 11, 2011 at 8:14 PM (CDT)

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