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Privacy protection hinders police: MacBook thief in Cologne Apple Store

Privacy protection hinders police : MacBook thief in Cologne Apple Store

A public relations consultant from Hamburg had his MacBook Air stolen. When he received a message that someone set an appointment to unlock his device at an Apple Store, he informed the police.

If the “Find My iPhone” is enabled on a missing device, a customer should be able to locate it. This is what Apple advertises to its customers for the security of their smartphones and laptops.

In April, a public relations consultant from Hamburg was on a train from Cologne to Hennef when his suitcase, along with his 1,099 euro MacBook Air was stolen. He called police and the lost and found, but nobody could locate his bag or laptop. So he reported the MacBook Air as missing to Apple. From then on, the computer should be blocked and its location reported when it’s turned on and in a WLAN network. Around a week later on May 3, Sebastian Schroer received exactly such a message per e-mail. He called the police in Kreuzau in the Eifel, which was the reported location of the device. The police drove to the given address, but they found no MacBook, only a “startled” family.

The story took a turn on July 5. 51-year-old Schroer received a second message from his stolen device. This time it was a confirmation of an appointment. Someone had made an appointment in a Cologne Apple Store to unlock the stolen MacBook. Such a procedure might be normal if the owner had found the device himself. To unlock a Mac again, users must enter a code, according to Apple. If you no longer know this, you must appear with the device and a purchase slip from the dealer. In addition, the so-called Apple ID is necessary for reactivation. This is also protected by a password.

Apple doesn’t give out names

Wondering who had his device and had made the appointment at Apple, the PR consultant called the federal police in Cologne. According to the prosecutor’s office in Bonn, the police then went to the Apple Store for the given appointment. But thanks to Apple’s privacy policy - they didn’t get their thief. The theft victim writes on Facebook, “Unfortunately, the store manager prevented any action by denying access to the police.”

Schroer said there were four police officers who were not able to intervene. The MacBook remains missing and Apple has not provided any information about the person who had the appointment. Apparently, the store manager in Cologne acted according to the data protection policies of the company. This says that customer data can only be released per court order. Apple would not comment on the situation to GA, saying in a written response that they did not comment on individual cases.

Police were sent to store

The theft victim is furious and posted on Facebook, “Just got confirmation again from Apple. They won’t give out the information and will not give me a replacement device.” In response to a GA inquiry on Wednesday, Schroer said he had nothing new to report.

The prosecutor’s office in Bonn has confirmed an investigation into the stolen laptop. That is why Cologne police were sent to the Apple Store. But without a search warrant, they were not able to conduct a search for the stolen device. While the security concept from Apple in terms of locating stolen devices definitely works, the system falls short because of the data protection policies. Schroer has permanently lost his trust in Apple even though he used to be a big fan. He is the author of two books with tips and tricks on the iPad and iPhone.

Orig. Text: Anja Wollschlaeger
Translation:ckloep