Apple 2.0

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FBI arrests JFK worker in heist of 3,600 Apple iPad minis

November 18, 2012: 8:34 AM ET

Suspect reportedly helping detectives search Long Island for a truck full of stolen iPads

From Craigslist. Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- He's been called "bonehead," "Dumbfellas" and the "less-than-master-mind" behind the theft of 3,600 iPad minis Monday night from the JFK cargo building that was the site of the 1978 Lufthansa heist featured in "Goodfellas."

Court papers filed Friday in Brooklyn show that one Renel Rene Richardson has been arrested by the FBI and charged with acting as the lookout for a pair of accomplices as they allegedly forklifted two pallets containing 1,800 iPad minis each into a waiting tractor-trailer.

The FBI was reportedly led to Richardson after co-workers told Port Authority detectives that he had made suspicious inquiries about when the iPads were due to arrive and where a forklift might be found.

According to the New York Post, which broke the story, Richardson accompanied detectives Wednesday night as they searched Long Island for the getaway truck.

Stolen iPads that have not been registered with Find My iPad are not as easy to track as you might think. Apple (AAPL) presumably has their serial numbers on file, but unless the tablets' modems are activated, the company has no way of tracing their location.

The NYC Police Department has been encouraging new owners to register their iPhones and iPads in case they later get stolen, and sites like give crime victims a place post the serial numbers of missing devices after the fact.

Victims can also search Craigslist, a favorite venue for fencing stolen Apple products. As of Sunday morning there were dozens of brand new iPad minis listed on the site as available for sale on Long Island. "Need to sell tonight," reads a typical (and perhaps perfectly innocent) listing. "Do not low ball me."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for

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