Apple won't return stolen iPhone hoopla

Late last week Consumerist ran a report about a stolen iPhone that was being sent back to Apple for repair. The report comes from the owner of the phone who laments the lack of assistance from Apple.

In running the story the Consumerist writer opines:

Also, if there's anything to learn from this it might be that you should follow through with filing a police report if you're ever robbed, as that might give you the leverage you need to get a company to help you. Possibly not with Apple, though.

However this is quite a stretch. The whole problem here stems from the original author's failure to file a police report. This is explained in the original letter:

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. And really, what would a police report do for an iPhone that was stolen on a NYC subway a week before Christmas?(plus i had a final that night)

OK so whether the reasons are enough justification or not the fact is the owner of the phone that was stolen failed to file a police report. Now there are posts popping up about this. The posts as does the initial article on Consumerist hint that perhaps Apple would assist if a report had been filed.

It's much more than a suggestion, however. Once the police report is filed the item really is stolen property. Up to that point consider the other possibilities that Apple has to consider as possibilities:

  • The phone belongs to a ex and the reporter is trying to get back at them.
  • A non-custodial parent is trying to get information on kids.
  • The phone was sold on Craigslist and the seller later had regrets.
  • An identity thief who has access to someone's email is claiming it's their phone
  • And many more

Do I believe any of these things happened? Not for a minute. But whether I believe it or not matters just as much as whether Apple believes it. Unless there is a police report there is nothing they can do that wouldn't have boatloads of liability associated with the choice. Imagine the story and lawsuit when someone claims "Apple sent my phone back to my ex who called the employer I was interviewing with and cussed them out."

In a only loosely related story I once had a laptop stolen. In this case it was Apple's laptop. It was a MacBook but it was owned by Apple and on loan to an event I was helping with. Having had one of a dozen laptops swiped was a bad day. A bad week as a matter of fact. Like the author of the note in this case I had plenty of things to do. However I made a different choice and did get the police report filed. With the police report in hand I contacted Apple and they, or their insurance company rather, covered the loss.

The moral of the story is if you want something of yours that has been taken back, whether a guitar, a phone or a laptop file a police report. Even if you never get it back you'll need it for your insurance company to cover your loss.

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