City seeks Apple's help in curbing property theft 

The public is hungry for Apple iPads. Chances are, thieves are, too. 

Electronic devices such as iPhones and laptops are by far the easiest targets for robbers in The City. Now, San Francisco police have reached out to Apple Inc. itself to prevent so many of its own products from being stolen.

The most recent string of iPhone robberies occurred in late March, when four victims lost their computerized gadgets in Hayes Valley in broad daylight. Police are still looking for a teenager they believe was involved in the incidents — three of which occurred within five minutes of each other.

San Francisco police Sgt. Tad Yamaguchi has seen it before. He works along Market Street and South of Market and estimates that about two-thirds of the robberies involve portable electronics.

In fact, he recently demonstrated how easy it is to make off with an iPhone to a woman in front of Westfield Center.

“She had her head down and she was looking at her phone,” said Yamaguchi, who was in uniform at the time. “I just tugged on the top of the phone and when she looked up in surprise, I told her it was too late. Her iPhone would’ve been gone.”

Currently, global satellite positioning is installed in many portable devices, but police often still need a warrant to recover the stolen goods. Other GPS-driven applications have often led to the owner reuniting with a prized iPod, but the stories are few and far between.

Police have been trying to find a better way to solve the problem. Yamaguchi doesn’t know what that is but he’s been pushing the security team at Apple for suggestions. 

Apple did not return calls for comment, but apparently, they’re listening. Yamaguchi said the company is brainstorming, but it has yet to get back to him with a solution.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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