Lost Stolen iPhone may result in criminal charges for Gizmodo

As just about the entire world already knows, a prototype 4th Generation iPhone (not set for release until June) was lost in a bar, by unlucky engineer, Gray Powell.  The iPhone was then stolen and sold to Gawker Media tech blog: Gizmodo, for $5,000.  It was mentioned early throughout the news that due to Gizmodo’s obvious knowledge that iPhone had been “misplaced” by Apple and most likely “stolen” – as well as their willingness to purchase such goods – they could be prosecuted under California law which, “prohibits the sale of stolen goods and states that a person who uses someone else’s lost property without permission may be guilty of theft.”

According to the New York Times, Gawker Media COO, Gaby Darbyshire, “said via e-mail late Friday that the organization had not been contacted by law enforcement officials, and declined to speak further on any legal aspects.”  Apple would not comment at all (no surprises there).  The NYT also spoke with Stephen Wagstaffe, Chief Deputy District Attorney for San Mateo County.  NYT reported the following:

Stephen Wagstaffe, San Mateo County’s chief deputy district attorney, explained that “if there is any case that arises out of our office at this point the police have not submitted for prosecution.” He added: “We certainly know about what happened here in Redwood City” regarding the missing iPhone, “and we are the jurisdiction for any legal prosecutions” that could come out of the episode.

According to Wagstaffe, “knowledge is a very important factor in a theft case”, and at times it can be difficult to prove what the intentions were throughout the entire situation.  However, being that neither Gawker or Apple have commented on any potential legal issue regarding “iPhonegate” (as some are calling it) I’m going to bet that nothing is going to happen here and even furthermore, I bet Apple will do everything in it’s power to have this situation slowly and quietly disappear.  Apple has had a pretty crazy month – despite the phenomenal sales debut of the iPad – an underlying irritation with Apple seems to have surfaced on the web.  First, it seemed as though consumers in general were feeling as though Steve Jobs was trying to pull one over on us by selling the iPad (called by some a giant iPod Touch with less functionality and a higher pricetag) – then the release of the iPad brought forth a slew of Wi-Fi connectivity issues which Apple did little to make right.  Finally, the 4th Generation iPhone gets lost/ stolen/ whatever and the blogosphere was all over it, seeming to take pleasure in Apple’s misfortune.   That is not to mention the embarrassment that Apple, a company known for insane levels of secrecy, was sure to have felt by the situation.  My guess is that Apple wants this to all go away so they can rebuilt their image of mystique and perfection.  I would go further to say that Apple would probably love to press charges against Gawker, purely because they feel humiliated, but I’m sure their markteing department is not willing to tarnish the cool, “Apple-image”.  People love the Gizmodo blog and they are always rooting for the underdog – the easier Apple is on Gizmodo and the nicer they are (at least publicly) to poor, old, Gray Powell, the quicker this will all go away.

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One Response to “Lost Stolen iPhone may result in criminal charges for Gizmodo”

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