Thieves cut through adjacent shop wall to steal $500K worth of iPhones from Apple Store
Burglars knew exactly where to drill without hitting pipes, suggesting sophisticated planningBy Daniel Sims 21 comments
WTF?! iPhones remain a hot target for thieves. This latest incident shows how valuable Apple's storerooms can be, involving a sophisticated operation that impacted not only the Apple Store but a neighboring business.
Regional manager Eric Marks didn't know what to think upon receiving a call informing him that burglars broke into the Seattle Coffee Gear at Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington. The shop's clientele is so specific that he never imagined anyone would try to rob it. A talk with the police revealed that they didn't - they broke into it to reach the adjacent Apple Store.
Local Seattle news reported this week that thieves broke into an Apple Store to steal 436 iPhones worth $500,000 by drilling through a wall from an adjacent store. The evidence suggests a significant degree of planning.
Seattle Coffee Gear CEO Mike Atkinson tweeted a photo of the shop's trashed bathroom with a small but clean hole in the wall. Multiple aspects of the situation suggest the thieves had extensive foreknowledge of the layouts of both businesses.
Good morning Twitter fans! Yesterday was a weird day...--- Mike Atkinson (@coffeemikeatkin) April 4, 2023
1. Two men broke into one of our retail locations. Why? To cut a hole in our bathroom wall to access the Apple Store next door and steal $500k worth of IphonesðÂÂÂ
2. Later that night on the way to the grocery store my wife... pic.twitter.com/DcUld6ULEd
The perpetrators broke in after operating hours and managed to drill the hole without hitting any pipes. Publicly available maps reveal the café sits right next to the Apple Store, but Marks said he never suspected the stores were connected. Nonetheless, knowing precisely where to drill in the bathroom to reach the Apple Store's storeroom would have required precision.
Police have surveillance footage of the robbery but haven't yet released it pending an investigation. Marks said the coffee shop only suffered around $1,500 in damages, about the cost of a 1TB iPhone 14 Pro.
The Cupertino giant has yet to comment on the incident. The company is known to be able to track and deactivate the stolen iPhones, making the entire robbery, as elaborate as it was, pointless.
Apple's flagship Amsterdam store suffered a particularly violent armed robbery last February. A man took hostages inside the store, and his escape was foiled when the police hit him with a car.
Even outside Apple Stores, people have tried to illicitly profit from mass quantities of iPhones. Smugglers frequently get caught trying to sneak the devices and other hardware into mainland China through ports in Hong Kong and Macau to avoid import duties and exploit regional price differences, often by strapping them to their bodies under their clothes.