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In brief: On July 7, the Apple Store in Fresno, CA was robbed of $27,000 worth of merchandise. The store, which sits in the middle of the always busy Fashion Fair Mall was open and serving customers at the time. The incident is still under investigation, but the police have just released footage of the crime on Tuesday and are asking for help apprehending the thieves.
Surveillance footage of the crime shows four individuals entering the store and quickly removing MacBooks, iPods, iPhones, and iPads from their displays. The crooks were not violent but were aggressive as they pushed people out of the way to get to the devices. The entire crime took less than 30 seconds.
“They were going through people and just grabbing stuff,” Fresno Police Lt. Rob Beckwith told local CBS affiliate KGPE. “It was a sort of takeover-style theft.”
The Fresno Police Department is offering a cash reward for any information leading to the arrest of the thieves. They suspect that the incident may be connected to another Apple Store robbery that occurred a few weeks ago in the coastal city of San Luis Obispo, CA.
Unfortunately for the crooks, they will be disappointed to learn that as soon as those valuable display items are outside the range of the Apple Store's wifi, they become bricked.
According to former Apple employee Amy Wilks, "Apple [display] products [have] an inbuilt security system that will cause an alarm to go off in the product and disable the [it] once it leaves the store’s wifi. You will be unable to use the product; it will be dead, worth nothing."
Stealing from Apple Stores is not hard. Apple is secretive about the numbers, so it is hard to say whether shoplifting has increased since the company instituted EasyPay using an iPhone and your iTunes account, but it would make sense if it did.
Walk-in robbery is also very prevalent with the shops’ open environments and with everything being on display secured only by thin cables that are easily cut or ripped away. Just last April we reported on a walk-in robbery at the Apple Store in Kansas City. Two years ago a high-profile theft was carried out in a New York Apple Store by thieves posing as Genius Bar personnel.
What’s more, Wilks says Apple has an internal store policy forbidding employees from intervening with any theft including shoplifting — even if it is witnessed and the perpetrator seems non-threatening. This policy is evidenced in the surveillance video as the employees (in the black shirts) can be seen as remaining calm and only moving into action after the criminals had left the store.
Instead, Apple relies on recording equipment to capture petty shoplifting and more significant heists like this one on video. Managers promptly notify the authorities and turn over surveillance to police, leaving them to do the dangerous work of apprehension. This policy helps keep their employees and customers safe during situations that inevitably turn ugly when confrontation occurs.