Canadian Apple store refuses to return woman's stolen iPhone

According to the CTV British Columbia newswire, Nicky Olsen's iPhone was stolen at a party late last year and she reported the theft to the police.

Recently, the newswire says, Olsen had an email from the Richmond Apple store saying her missing phone was in for repairs.

"I was ecstatic because I thought, wow, they found my phone. Someone turned it in, I could finally get it back. How often do you get to recover a stolen piece of property like that?" she told the newswire.

“But when she went to the store to pick up the phone, Apple refused to hand it over to her, even though it was clearly registered to her”, says the newswire, adding that Olsen says she was told this was due to privacy issues, and that they had to contact the Apple legal department.

A police offer then tried to retrieve the iPhone from the Apple store, but when he arrived, the newswire says that staff said they did not know where the handset was.

It would have been ideal if we had been notified. We could have attended to the store and hopefully made an arrest, and returned the phone to Ms. Olson. Unfortunately, that's not what we were able to do”, said a police officer.

CTV then tried to call Apple, work out what was wrong and what the company is doing to prevent future thefts, but the calls were not returned. Apple's public relations department subsequently said that the company does not comment on matters of security.

The good news, the newswire says, is that Apple was subsequently given a new iPhone,

The case is an interesting one, Infosecurity notes, and highlights the fact that the iPhone is actually a data storage device, and that Apple was almost certainly concerned that, if it gave the handset back to the registered owner, the other user – who could have purchased the iPhone second-hand and quite innocently – could take legal action for recovery of their data. The Apple store therefore probably returned the handset to head office for data backup and recycling/disposal of the hardware.

CTV makes the following recommendations to iPhone users:

Record the serial number

Install an app that lets you track the phone or remotely shut it down

Password encode your smartphone

Don't keep sensitive information on the phone

Report any theft to the police

Cancel the account immediately if it's stolen or missing

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?