It looks like employees at Apple, Inc. are willing to do just about anything to recover a costly iPhone prototype, including masquerading as law enforcement officers and threatening unsuspecting Latino families with deportation.
Last July, six people armed with badges and identifying themselves as members of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) went to Sergio Calderón's home to look for a missing iPhone 5 prototype. Two of the people later turned out to be Apple Inc. employees. In their search of Calderón's property, they threatened that the man and his family would get in trouble if they weren't U.S. citizens.
Once inside the two investigators searched through Calderón's home, car, computer and allegedly threatened him and his family, asking questions about their immigration status. "One of the officers is like, 'Is everyone in this house an American citizen?' They said we were all going to get into trouble," Calderón told the San Francisco Weekly.
Calderón told the SF Weekly that six people -- four men and two women -- wearing badges of some kind showed up at his door. "They said, 'Hey, Sergio, we're from the San Francisco Police Department,'" Calderón recounted.
He said they asked him whether he had been at Cava 22, a San Francisco bar where a highly sought after iPhone 5 prototype had reportedly been lost. The so-called "officers" then told Calderón that they had traced a lost iPhone to his home using GPS.
Calderón, 22, is a U.S. citizen who lives with family members who he says all have legal status. He only let investigators in to his home because they identified themselves as police and because they claimed to be receiving a GPS signal from the lost phone.
"They threatened me," he told SF Weekly. "We don't know anything about it, still, to this day."
It's unclear whether these actions constitute impersonation of a police officer, a crime that carries with it a misdemeanor charge and jail time in the state of California. But what is clear is that threatening a family's privacy and well-being by investigating their legal status is not only racial profiling, but traumatic for families because Latino families are already targeted and often separated -- even when they've got legal status.
Apple's vice president of global security, John Theriault, reportedly retired last week. Insiders point to Apple and SFPD's investigation as being the real reason for Theriault is leaving the company.