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Apple investigators hunting for lost iPhone 5 were accompanied by police

The strange tale of the lost iPhone 5 takes another twist, as San Francisco police admit it helped Apple search for the missing mobile.

The tale of the lost iPhone 5 has taken a bizarre turn, as SFWeekly reports San Francisco police were present when Apple investigators searched a man's house in a bid to find the missing mobile.

Earlier in the week our sister site CNET News broke the story that a prototype of the much-anticipated iPhone 5 had apparently gone missing in a tequila bar in late July -- a security fumble that echoed the bar-based loss of the iPhone 4 last year.

Then a man from Bernal Heights told SFWeekly that men claiming to be police officers had searched his home after tracing the lost prototype to his house using GPS. Originally the police told CNET there was no record of a report being filed by Apple.

Now San Francisco police say plain-clothes coppers did accompany the tech company detectives to the man's residence, but "did not go inside the house", and stood outside while the investigators from Apple checked the man's computer, car and home for any trace of the iPhone 5.

Assuming that's true, it's at least good to know that Apple investigators weren't openly trying to impersonate the police. However, the man, one Sergio Calderón, 22, did say in an interview that none of the visitors acknowledged being employed by Apple, that they questioned his (and his family's) immigration status, and that one of them offered him $300 and the promise that if he returned the device the owner would not press charges.

It seems that only the Apple investigators actually entered his home, but Calderón says he wouldn't have permitted the search if he'd known the two people conducting the search weren't police officers.

Calderón said he was at the bar where the phone vanished, but denies he ever possessed it.

The plot thickens. We've also heard speculation that the whole business is a hoax designed to whip up publicity, though publicity isn't something Apple's ever been short of, and this doesn't appear to fit its super-secret approach to product launches.

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