The products stolen from the Apple Store at Vintage Faire Mall on Wednesday likely are far from Modesto, police say.
Four men rushed into the store about 11 a.m. that day, scooped up a lot of merchandise and fled in a waiting vehicle within seconds, a witness said.
Apple Stores are a hot target for crews of thieves who travel up and down California looking to steal valuable tech products, said Modesto police Sgt. Patrick Kimes. “This is how they do it, this is the normal – crews five or six guys deep go in, snap off the wires (of products that are tethered to counters) and bolt.”
A San Jose Mercury News story in December, citing KTVU, reported there had been 11 such crimes by groups of young men in hoodies at Apple stores in the Bay Area – San Francisco, Berkeley, Burlingame, Los Gatos and Corte Madera – since late October.
Kimes said that on a previous case, an Apple employee told him stolen items typically end up overseas, where they’re sold at exorbitant prices.
No good descriptions of the men who hit the Vintage Faire store, or the vehicle they fled in was available, Kimes said. He added it was unlikely the thieves were local.
A customer who was at the rear of the Modesto store when the crew hit told The Bee on Wednesday, “All of a sudden the alarm starts going off and we see this big commotion.” The men closed and stacked up laptops, grabbed phones and other devices and accessories and were out the doors in seconds, he said.
In December, Fortune.com ran a story about a series such thefts at an Apple store in Berkeley. It noted that Apple Stores are appealing targets because they’re “ generally wide open and simple to enter and exit” and have popular and expensive devices simply sitting on display tables.
The story also cited an Apple interview with CNET saying it decided against tethering iPhones so customers could pick them up and feel what it's like to hold them.
“Still,” The Fortune story says, “Apple has a secret weapon that could make stealing products from its stores an exercise in futility. As part of its theft-prevention features, Apple can place stolen devices in Lost mode, turning off all their functions and rendering them useless. Thieves, then, are walking off with bricks that aren't operational.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327