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Apple refuses to send replacement iPhone to legal owner

updated 12:05 pm EST, Mon January 4, 2010

Company intends to fulfill thief's request

Without some intervention from Apple or the police, a replacement iPhone will go to a thief and not the original owner, a robbery victim claims. Identifying herself only as Alisa, the victim notes that her iPhone was stolen over two weeks ago in a Brooklyn subway. No progress had been made until recently, when the thief asked for a replacement phone through AppleCare. A notification e-mail was sent to Alisa's address.

After confirming that the phone was hers, Alisa says she was able to attain an address and phone number for the place the service request was coming from. No action against the thief has been taken however, and both Apple and AT&T representatives are said to have stated that they must fulfill the thief's warranty claim, regardless of whether the phone clearly belongs to someone else. In spite of an Apple representative's suggestion that police intervention might change things, an hour-long call made by an officer is said to have produced no results.

Alisa has since bought a BlackBerry, and taken the step of filing a formal police report on the robbery in an attempt to get Apple to reverse its policy. The thief is also incidentally observed to have been using the iPhone unlocked, as the number associated with the AppleCare request is not with AT&T.

by MacNN Staff



  1. guytoronto

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The "supposed" owner of the phone needs to provide a police report with serial number.


    Otherwise, how are we supposed to know:

    1 - Boyfriend/girlfriend split up. GF sees a way to get back at boyfriend. Wants phone back.

    2 - Given to a person over an unpaid debt. No paperwork trail.

    3 - Gifted to someone, as she didn't want it anymore, or couldn't afford to keep it.

    4 - Sold to random person on Craigslist.

    Yes, she called the police claiming it was stolen. Yes, the police searched for it. NO, she did NOT complete a police report. That's the crucial third stage.

    Apple has done nothing wrong here.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    but if MS had done this to a Zune user you would all be up in arms about what a crappy company it is. But it's Apple so they can do no wrong.

    oh wait, that's testudo's post. dont' know what i'm thinkin.

    my bad.

    it's a tough call but guytoronto hits it square.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Police report

    Last para says she has filed a police report.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There's more to this...

    The whole story is fishy, from the initial claim to the response of Apple and at&t. As the first poster pointed out there are number of possible scenarios. I hope we get the real story at some point. As for the reported response of Apple and at&t, why would they be required to honor the warranty on stolen property. I mean, would the thief be able to sue Apple and at&t for failure to honor the warranty? So far we've seen absolutely no corroborating evidence from anyone. All we see are the sensational, click-attracting headlines. All we know is what the alleged victim claims.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: Police Report

    From the original article -

    "I'm so excited that I can get my phone back! Until the cops arrive at my house, they tell me that since I didn't file a police report they can't do anything. I didn’t file it because in order to file one, I would have had to go to a precinct downtown (like an hour away) look through books of pictures to try to ID the thief, whose face I only saw from the side for a millisecond"

    then at the end of the article

    "At this point the necessary steps to obtain a police report have been taken."

    Right.. after a company, for some illogical reason wanted proof that something was stolen, and not just take your word for it, THEN you file a police report. Seems like had she not been lazy and filed the report, she could have avoided a lot of this.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Yeah

    Wow, nat, was your new year's resolution to be more like me? Glad to see you've finally gotten out of the RDF, stopped drinking the Kool-Aid, and see the world for what it really is.

  1. eatapc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Isn't this strictly a police matter?

    Although Alisa's story seems fishy in many ways, it's probably just a bit garbled. Apparently she has gone online (user her real name) to explain herself better:

    My feeling is that this is strictly a police matter and that Apple & AT&T should fully cooperate with the police but otherwise stay out of it. If Alisa wants her phone back, the police should handle it. Period. Her gripe should be with law enforcement, not Apple.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Forget about it. Send it to the AT&T billing

    Just send it to whoever is paying the monthly bill. After all, the phone is not worth two or three months of phone bill payment.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Legal ownership…

    …requires legal PROOF of ownership.

    No police report - no legal document proving she's the rightful owner.

    Who are Apple to decide arbitrarily whether some crank who walks in the store has the moral, much less legal, right to ownership of a device?

    Now that she's filed a police report - after the fact - there should be no problem getting the phone back to her, and putting the guy in front of a court of law.

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I love this line

    "and taken the step of filing a formal police report on the robbery"

    In other words she finally did the most basic step necessary. Apple has nothing to do with this. It's an insurance/police matter. If my car gets stolen and the thief gets an oil change at Jiffy Lube I don't complain to Toyota or Jiffy Lube about it.

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