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iPhone X heist puts $370,000 hurt on a single Apple Store

Thieves stole more than 300 of Apple’s hot new phones off a UPS truck.

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The iPhone X is proving to be one of the hottest Apple launches in years.

James Martin/CNET

Well, that's one way to skip the iPhone lines.

Three "husky" men in hoodies driving a white Dodge van broke into a UPS truck Wednesday while it was parked outside a San Francisco Apple Store.

It was delivering 313 of Apple's new iPhone X devices, according to a police report. The theft happened between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. PT. 

The total value of the stolen merchandise was estimated to be more than $370,000. The iPhone X, which becomes available in stores Friday, starts at $999 apiece. The suspects haven't yet been caught.

Each phone was cataloged with a description and serial number, which meant the police report was one of the "fattest" Sgt. Paul Weggenmann had ever seen, he said.

People who planned to pick up their preordered iPhones at the Stonestown store will still get their devices on time, a person familiar with the matter said.

Stealing iPhones has long been a lucrative business, but Apple's "Find My iPhone" and remote lockout feature have caused a drop in stolen devices. For enterprising thieves, the key is getting an iPhone before those services have been set up.

It's unclear if the stolen phones will work, or if Apple will be able to disable them. The company declined to give information about its security capabilities. 

What makes this theft especially notable is that it comes just before the launch of the iPhone X, one of Apple's most high-profile products in years. Apple bills the gadget as the "future of the smartphone."

The device may end up becoming the hottest Apple has ever sold. Customers preordered about 25 percent as many iPhone X units in the first four days than the previous record holder, the iPhone 6, according to data from Slice Intelligence. It set that record despite reportedly sparse supplies, which have pushed some preorder deliveries to mid-December. Nov. 3 availability for the iPhone X disappeared within minutes when preorders began early Oct. 27.

As for the theft, the UPS driver had locked the cargo area after parking outside the Stonestown Galleria mall in the southwest Lakeside neighborhood of San Francisco, according to the police report. A janitor spotted the suspects unloading boxes from the UPS truck and into a Dodge van and snapped a photo.

"It's suspicious they were able to get that large a haul on that day," he said.

UPS said it's working with law enforcement investigating the theft.

The theft was earlier uncovered by local San Francisco television station, KTSF.

Update, Nov. 3 at 1:50 p.m. PT: Add information about lack of clarity on whether the phones will work. 

Correction, Nov. 3 at 12:50 p.m. PT: To revise Slice Intelligence market data on iPhone X preorders.

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