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San Francisco police to probe Apple iPhone 5 house search

08 Sep 2011
Apple iPhone 4

Yet another Bay Area police department is facing scrutiny over its close ties to Apple's in-house investigations.

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has said it will conduct an internal investigation of a search on a home in the city's Bernal Heights district in July.

The search, which targeted 22 year-old Sergio Calderón, was originally believed to have been carried out by Apple's private investigators.

When reports surfaced alleging that the investigators had impersonated officers, the SFPD stepped forward and said that several plain clothes officers had assisted with the operation, although only Apple investigators had entered and searched the home.

The SFPD maintains that accompanying private investigators on searches is a standard procedure and safety measure, but the incident will no doubt draw close scrutiny, in large part because it is not the first time Apple has appeared to use local authorites as its private security force.

Last year, police in San Mateo county were investigated for their involvement in the loss of a prototype iPhone 4 which culminated in a raid on the home of a Gizmodo editor.

The incidents raise an interesting question for police departments. On one hand they are helping to retrieve stolen property and prevent the trafficking of valuable intellectual property, on the other they risk a mountain of bad publicity and backlash if they appear to be helping a multi-billion dollar corporation harass and violate the rights of the very citizens they are sworn to protect.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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