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SF police confirm search for lost, unreleased iPhone

A San Francisco police spokesman says the department "assisted" Apple in a recent search of a house, according to a report.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
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Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Declan McCullagh
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3 min read

Cava22, the San Francisco tequila lounge where another unreleased iPhone apparently went missing
Cava22, the San Francisco tequila lounge where another unreleased iPhone apparently went missing. James Martin/CNET

San Francisco police have confirmed that they "assisted" Apple internal security in a recent search of a home, which CNET was the first to report earlier this week was aimed at finding an unreleased iPhone owned by the company.

"Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item," San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said, according to a report this afternoon by SF Weekly.

Sergio Calderón, who lives in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood, told the paper that about six people who looked like police showed up at his house and he gave them permission to search it.

One of the investigators reportedly was Anthony Colon, a former San Jose Police Department sergeant who's now a senior investigator for Apple. After the report appeared, Colon deleted his LinkedIn profile (a copy is here).

Apple declined to comment this afternoon. Dangerfield did not respond to repeated requests for comment. (A police spokesman previously told CNET he could not divulge information about the search unless he had the police report number or the name of the person--not the company--making the complaint.)

A day or two after the iPhone was lost at the Cava22 tequila lounge in late July, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police and said they had traced it to a home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, a source familiar with the investigation told CNET. San Francisco police, accompanied by Apple internal security, performed a consensual search of the home but did not find the device, according to the source.

Following a search of the house and garage, Calderón said he was offered a cash reward for the return of the phone to the tune of $300, though was not told what the device was.

While Apple has not publicly announced any plans for future phones, unconfirmed reports in the last few weeks suggest the launch date for the iPhone 5 is likely to be in early October. Other reports from Taiwan have set the date at September or October. (See CNET's iPhone 5 rumor roundup.)

Cava22, the San Francisco tequila lounge that sparked a hunt by Apple internal security for what appears to be an unreleased iPhone
Cava22, the San Francisco tequila lounge that sparked a hunt by Apple internal security for what appears to be an unreleased iPhone. James Martin/CNET

Last year's prototype iPhone went missing when Robert Gray Powell, an Apple computer engineer who was 28 years old at the time, left it in a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif.

In early August, San Mateo County prosecutors filed misdemeanor criminal charges against two men, Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, for allegedly selling Powell's iPhone 4 prototype to Gawker Media's Gizmodo blog. An arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow.

Prosecutors obtained a warrant to search the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen and indicated they might prosecute Gizmodo, but eventually decided not to file charges.

Under a California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be--but "appropriates such property to his own use"--is guilty of theft. In addition, a second state law says any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.

Last updated at 4:05 p.m. PT.

CNET's Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report