Holiday crime spree targets Apple

December 16, 2010: 8:36 AM ET

Since late November, retail stores in four states have been hit by nighttime burglaries

Burglars hit the Greenwich, Conn., Apple Store. Source: IFOAppleStore.com

Apple (AAPL) doesn't like to talk about it, but its products have become a favorite target of robbers, pickpockets and burglars. According a reporter who covers the New York City Police Department, iPods and iPhones regularly top the list of items lifted from Big Apple subway passengers.

And now, as Christmas approaches, Apple Stores across the U.S. have been hit by a rash of smash and grabs.

A round-up of the most recent, courtesy of IFOAppleStore.com:

  • 2:50 a.m. Dec. 14, Greenwich, Conn. Five suspects broke one of the left-side doors of the Greenwich Ave. Store  and made off with display table products.
  • 6:15 a.m. Dec. 9, San Diego, Calif. Two burglars broke into the Apple Store in the University Town Center mall.
  • 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6, Woodcliff Lake, N.J. A door smash at the Tice's Corner Apple Store.
  • 2:00 a.m. Nov. 22 Pittsburgh, Penn. A burglary at the Shadyside store.

According to IFOAppleStore's Gary Allen, breaking into Apple Stores is a fool's game:

"Security features at Apple stores are well known to criminals, and include interior video surveillance, alarms to private alarm companies, and anti-shoplifting tethers connected to an audible alarm. Not so well understood is that all the products in the store have permanent identifiers, allowing police to enter the stolen items into the NCIC stolen property database, and for Apple to detect the products if they're brought into a store for service. The identifiers also provide ways for investigators to detect, locate and track the devices wirelessly.

"Lastly, stolen iPhones can be remotely erased and locked through Apple's Mobile Me service, and completely disabled as a telephone by carrier AT&T."

Below: A video of a Marlton, N.J. smash and grab that went viral in 2009:

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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