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New report details SFPD approach to fighting iPhone thefts

updated 12:30 pm EDT, Mon April 29, 2013

San Francisco pursues 'fear and distrust' strategy

The San Francisco Police Department is pursuing a "fear and distrust" strategy in an attempt to wreck the city's black market for mobile devices, particularly iPhones, the Huffington Post writes. Sting operations are targeting both the buyers and sellers of stolen devices, the idea being to deter people from going the illegal route. The SFPD has reportedly had help from Apple, which loaned a collection of iPhones that were then sold by undercover police officers.

The SFPD program has come under some criticism for its efficiency and its legality; some people have suggested the department is engaging in entrapment. Mobile device thefts are a major problem in San Francisco, with smartphone robberies accounting for nearly half of all thefts. The iPhone is an unusually important target in that regard due to its cost, and its popularity, which is especially high in San Francisco because of the city's tech-heavy industry and the presence of Apple's global headquarters in Cupertino.

Another region with high iPhone thefts is New York City. There the NYPD has conducted sting operations of its own, and tried to educate the public on protecting itself against snatch-and-grab robberies in the street and on subways.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-28-08

    your comment

  1. rexray

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-15-02

    I was surprised to see the photo next to the headline depict a hand-cuffed African American. I'm sure that it was not intentional, but the use of that image helps to perpetuate a negative stereotype about black people that your site probably does not intend to project. Please reconsider its use and change the image if you agree.

  1. growlf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-05-07

    The photo is the lead post from the Huffington Post article. Also from the article:

    As Lee looks for buyers along San Francisco's Market Street, officers park their squad cars a few blocks away, out of sight. They listen to the voice of a second undercover officer -- the "close cover" -- crackle over the police radio. In police code, he provides a running play-by-play. Lee, the "UC," and his buyer, a black male, or "BM," are nearing a deal.

    "UC at Fifth and Market at northwest corner," the officer says over the radio. "He's westbound, almost at the check cashing place ... BM with red hat and gray jacket ... BM is taking out money ... BM is looking at the phones."

    If you choose to be offended, find the right people to be offended with.

  1. growlf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-05-07

    Also, the article actually does a reasonable job at pointing out the some of these buyers being arrested are victims of over-zealous police...

  1. rexray

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-15-02

    Just because it is a re-post does not release the re-poster from responsibility for the content. I stand by my original point.

  1. carloblackmore

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-28-05

    I completely agree rexray – a repost doesn't excuse a respectful website from posting in a responsible manner. Now it's up to MacNN to decide how they define respectful and responsible.
    And I communicated the same disappointment to the original author on the Huffington Post site. A headline and photo thumbnail are not so benign for MacNN or the Huffington Post to ignore their impact. Especially given the way most aggregator sites and feeds prioritize the headline+thumbnail in their layouts.

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