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Belgian heist lands thousands of stolen Apple iPhones

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
An elaborately planned theft of at least 3,000 iPhones in Belgium this weekend amounted to millions of euros worth of stolen property.

Local reports from De Standaard and Gazet van Antwerpen vary on whether it was 3,000 or 4,000 iPhones stolen, but at a worth of 575 to 675 euros each, the market value is said to be around 2 million euros, or $3 million U.S. The handsets were allegedly stolen from a Netherlands-based logistics company CEVA Logistics in Willebroek.

According to reports, the thieves climbed a fire ladder to get on the roof of the warehouses where the phones were being held. They then cut a hole into the roof, directly over where the iPhones were located.

Reports suggest the detail and precision of the theft implies someone had inside knowledge of the delivery and location of the iPhones. Officials with Ceva declined to comment on the theft, but were said to be "seriously annoyed by the intrusion," according to Google Translate.

The theft is apparently an issue for wireless carrier Mobistar, which has reportedly had trouble keeping the iPhone 3G and low-end iPhone 3GS in stock. Officials with the wireless provider contacted their supplier and expect to have a new stock of phones within days, but the company is anxious to resupply before their existing inventory runs out.

Because the serial numbers on the stolen phones are known, Mobsistar officials said they can block the handsets from accessing their network. Police are said to be looking into the matter, but currently have no leads.
post #2 of 46
Maybe someone from North America or Asia wanted Belgian chocolates so they made a deal.
post #3 of 46
Belgian iPhones are unlocked. Mobistar can probably refuse access to their network for selected iPhones but is it possible for them to block access on all networks of all providers ?
post #4 of 46
It's a shame the GPS systems can't be used to track them once switched on. If each GPS system had a unique identifier this could be done but I don't think they do. If each GPS chip also held the serial number they'd be toast.
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post #5 of 46
Wow, not bad for a nights work! Nice score! Guess now is a good time to check Ebay and Craigslist for a great deal on a new Iphone!

Jess
post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddyk View Post

Belgian iPhones are unlocked. Mobistar can probably refuse access to their network for selected iPhones but is it possible for them to block access on all networks of all providers ?

Since the serial numbers are known, yes they can be blocked by any provider if they have been notified and if they are ethical. It would seem that Apple would want these serial numbers broadcast to the world.
post #7 of 46
"...keeping the iPhone 3G and low-end iPhone 3GS in stock."
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post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

It's a shame the GPS systems can't be used to track them once switched on. If each GPS system had a unique identifier this could be done but I don't think they do. If each GPS chip also held the serial number they'd be toast.

This would also lead to all sorts of privacy issues. Think before you write.
post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddyk View Post

Belgian iPhones are unlocked.

So, they do not require a jailbreak
post #10 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Officials with Ceva declined to comment on the theft, but were said to be "seriously annoyed by the intrusion," according to Google Translate.

I'd be "seriously annoyed" too if someone stole 3,000 of my iPhones. (I'm sure it's just a translation error)
post #11 of 46
Were there any security cameras?
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post #12 of 46
Maybe I've watched too many heist movies but cutting a hole in the roof doesn't seem all that elaborate. But yeah it does sound like they had someone on the inside. Interviewing all the employees might be a good start.
post #13 of 46
Ship them to China. They can't get enough of these iPhones.
80 million iPhones by 2012. That's only 15% of the market.

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post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Since the serial numbers are known, yes they can be blocked by any provider if they have been notified and if they are ethical. ...

Two words. China. Russia
post #15 of 46
Question: Do we have Tom Cruse, Nicholas Cage or George Clooney play the lead in the Hollywood adaptation?
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post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Question: Do we have Tom Cruse, Nicholas Cage or George Clooney play the lead in the Hollywood adaptation?

Nah! They're just a bunch of "Droids"!

As for the 3000 stolen iPhones, maybe Apple should consider placing them on the Mobile Me Network when they leave the factory to the store and once sold, have the Mobile Me feature end. That way, Apple can track using the "Where's my phone" feature in Mobile Me.

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post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

So, they do not require a jailbreak

Unlocking is not exactly the same thing as jailbreaking. Jailbreaking does more than just unlocking the iPhone
post #18 of 46
As much as I don't like Apple, I hate to hear when their stuff gets stolen. No matter how hard you try to prevent it though, it will continue to happen. Just like people who pirate software. We should however, be able to track or identify these people more easily. Didn't the Apple store have video surveillance, especially in Europe where it is so highly utilized? (I'm surprised they wouldn't use all the computer's iSights as an added security system to help ID thieves at night!)

(I'm sure people will call me hypocrite due to my Hackintosh at home, but when I paid for the OS that is on it (Leopard, not SL) and I don't sell the OS by any means, I can't consider it theft. Other rules, maybe, but not theft.)
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post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Since the serial numbers are known, yes they can be blocked by any provider if they have been notified and if they are ethical. It would seem that Apple would want these serial numbers broadcast to the world.

Pedantically speaking, what is checked is the not the phones actual serial number, which Apple keeps track of and surely could tell if it was stolen if you called in for warranty issues. Its the GSM-based network International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number that is used track and blacklist stolen phones around the world.

The drawback with that, just like your Media Access Control (MAC) address being a virtual representation of your Burn In Address (BIA) on your Network Interface Card (NIC) is that it can be spoofed. There are/were jailbreaking apps that also gave you an option to change your IMEI. Im not which countries make it illegal to change, but if youre going to steal $3M in iPhones you likely arent going to care about that.
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post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kim kap sol View Post

This would also lead to all sorts of privacy issues. Think before you write.

I'm sorry; were you under the impression that by not having the GSM feature described by 'digitalclips', that you, therefor, had some sort of privacy?
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post #21 of 46
I think the Belgians should be on the lookout for a convoy of Minis being driven cross country with verve.
post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

I think the Belgians should be on the lookout for a convoy of Minis being driven cross country with verve.

The Belgian Job would make for a pretty bad movie.

PS: How do you move 3k to 4k iPhones? I figure you could sell the whole lot quickly for a few hundred a piece to someone bound for the Chinese gray market. It’s likely they already had a buyer. Getting $1.5M out of the deal quickly seems like a way to go.
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post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Officials with Ceva declined to comment on the theft, but were said to be "seriously annoyed by the intrusion," according to Google Translate.

Nice of Mr. Translate to be so available for comment...

Not to pick nits but should a Google translation really be referred to like a source?

On topic, I totally want to be part of a heist. It just wouldn't involve easily traceable devices, however...

...duh?

-Clive
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post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTachyon View Post

Unlocking is not exactly the same thing as jailbreaking. Jailbreaking does more than just unlocking the iPhone

While we're nitpicking, jailbreaking does not unlock the phone. The two things are completely different.
post #25 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Since the serial numbers are known, yes they can be blocked by any provider if they have been notified and if they are ethical. It would seem that Apple would want these serial numbers broadcast to the world.

AT&T doesn't block iPhones that they know are stolen. They consider the user of the stolen iPhone as a customer and don't want to alienate a customer by interrupting their service intentionally. I own an iPhone that is being used by a thieve in the San Francisco area. An AT&T retail employee told me that he has the same situation. Even though he can see on the store computer who is using his iPhone, he is not allowed to contact or repot the person to authorities. It turns out to be a smart move for AT&T short term has I replaced the stolen iPhone with a new one and contract penalties.
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post #26 of 46
Funny part is that those phones are all unlocked. Mobistar can block the serial number, but if you want decent 3G reception you would use another carrier.
post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


Not to pick nits but should a Google translation really be referred to like a source?

In this case the translation is perfect.
post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Nice of Mr. Translate to be so available for comment...

Not to pick nits but should a Google translation really be referred to like a source?

On topic, I totally want to be part of a heist. It just wouldn't involve easily traceable devices, however...

...duh?

-Clive

No problem...

...what do you have of value, and where do you live? I would be glad to fulfill your wishes if it is good!

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post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kim kap sol View Post

This would also lead to all sorts of privacy issues. Think before you write.

I did think and no need to be so condescending. This information could easily be held close by Apple and only used in such situations with a judge's permission like a search warrant.
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post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The Belgian Job would make for a pretty bad movie.

PS: How do you move 3k to 4k iPhones? I figure you could sell the whole lot quickly for a few hundred a piece to someone bound for the Chinese gray market. Its likely they already had a buyer. Getting $1.5M out of the deal quickly seems like a way to go.

The question is ... will this mean more sales or less for Apple ...
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post #31 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

As much as I don't like Apple, I hate to hear when their stuff gets stolen. No matter how hard you try to prevent it though, it will continue to happen. Just like people who pirate software. We should however, be able to track or identify these people more easily. Didn't the Apple store have video surveillance, especially in Europe where it is so highly utilized? (I'm surprised they wouldn't use all the computer's iSights as an added security system to help ID thieves at night!)

(I'm sure people will call me hypocrite due to my Hackintosh at home, but when I paid for the OS that is on it (Leopard, not SL) and I don't sell the OS by any means, I can't consider it theft. Other rules, maybe, but not theft.)

Theft is just as poor a term for piracy as it is for installing OSX on a hackintosh. In fact the consequences from the two are almost identical.

Effect of piracy on the owner if:
a) You would have bought the media if you couldn't have found it for free - loss of profit from one sale
b) You would have not bought the media anyway - no effect on the owner

Effect on Apple for building a hackintosh if:
a) Had you not built a hackintosh, you would have bought a mac - loss of profit from the sale of a mac
b) You would not have bought a mac - no effect on hardware profit, but at least they got a (smaller) profit from the sale of the software

By contrast, physical theft results in the loss of potential profit from the sale of the product plus the loss of the costs incurred creating, shipping and storing that product every single time regardless of what the thief would have done had they not stolen the product. Theft takes money out of a companies bank account, piracy/hackintoshing may stop some money from entering the bank account, but it wont take money out.

You can justify things however you want, but at least keep things in perspective. Throwing piracy under the bus while owning a hackintosh is somewhat hypocritical.
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post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

As much as I don't like Apple, I hate to hear when their stuff gets stolen. No matter how hard you try to prevent it though, it will continue to happen. Just like people who pirate software. We should however, be able to track or identify these people more easily. Didn't the Apple store have video surveillance, especially in Europe where it is so highly utilized? (I'm surprised they wouldn't use all the computer's iSights as an added security system to help ID thieves at night!)

(I'm sure people will call me hypocrite due to my Hackintosh at home, but when I paid for the OS that is on it (Leopard, not SL) and I don't sell the OS by any means, I can't consider it theft. Other rules, maybe, but not theft.)

Technically they are both illegal, but they are certainly not the same kind of crime nor would they have the same punishment, even if you could get caught.


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

The question is ... will this mean more sales or less for Apple ...

Id say its essentially the same. CEVA Logistic will buy more product that they pay Apple again for, but those stolen devices will mean no sale somewhere else. I guess there will likely be more iPhones in the channel at some point now but its not enough to make a difference to Apples bottom line in the grand scheme of things.
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post #33 of 46
What's the first thing you have to do with an iPhone?

Activate it via iTunes, so when these phone's get plugged in the IP of where they are plugged in will be known, the Serial number and IMEI is known so activation can probably be blocked.

There might be some expensive paperweights appearing on Ebay.
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post #34 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I’d say it’s essentially the same. CEVA Logistic will buy more product that they pay Apple again for, but those stolen devices will mean no sale somewhere else. I guess there will likely be more iPhones in the channel at some point now but it’s not enough to make a difference to Apple’s bottom line in the grand scheme of things.

Correct my feeble attempt at logic here but .. couldn't one argue that those that buy the stolen ones would not have bought one otherwise therefore the replacement is a 100% net gain to Apple in sales. Just musing here ...
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post #35 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Correct my feeble attempt at logic here but .. couldn't one argue that those that buy the stolen ones would not have bought one otherwise therefore the replacement is a 100% net gain to Apple in sales. Just musing here ...

I was assuming that these sales would not be much lower than the retail price. I suppose if they were going to only buy a used one anyway that we can assume that Apple is selling and extra few thousand iPhones due to the robbery. I would assume that its the insurance company that is paying for these devices from CEVA Logistics.
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post #36 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

Theft is just as poor a term for piracy as it is for installing OSX on a hackintosh. In fact the consequences from the two are almost identical.

Effect of piracy on the owner if:
a) You would have bought the media if you couldn't have found it for free - loss of profit from one sale
b) You would have not bought the media anyway - no effect on the owner

Effect on Apple for building a hackintosh if:
a) Had you not built a hackintosh, you would have bought a mac - loss of profit from the sale of a mac
b) You would not have bought a mac - no effect on hardware profit, but at least they got a (smaller) profit from the sale of the software

By contrast, physical theft results in the loss of potential profit from the sale of the product plus the loss of the costs incurred creating, shipping and storing that product every single time regardless of what the thief would have done had they not stolen the product. Theft takes money out of a companies bank account, piracy/hackintoshing may stop some money from entering the bank account, but it wont take money out.

You can justify things however you want, but at least keep things in perspective. Throwing piracy under the bus while owning a hackintosh is somewhat hypocritical.

My take on Hackintoshing:
Apple does not make a computer to suit my needs, though I do require some software that is written only for OS X. Therefore, I could not by an Apple computer. Apple would have made no money off of me.
I built a computer to my needs, and bought the OS X. Yes, Apple doesn't get a hardware sale (they wouldn't have anyway) but they do get the OS sale (something they wouldn't have gotten anyway). Therefore, in my case, Apple isn't loosing any money on the sale of the OS. In fact, they are still gaining money since I would not have purchased any product if I couldn't build a Hackintosh and found an alternative to the mac only software (in this example, Final Cut)

If you walk into McDonalds you can purchase a re-fill and use your own container, you don't need to buy their cup. You still need to purchase your drink (and it needs to be the same size and such as theirs) but put it in your container. I'm sure they wouldn't like it if you filled up a Burger King cup, but they still will let you if you buy the drink. Same idea in my mind. Same drink, different cup, just as long as you buy the drink. Now Apple does say "Our drink, Our cup." in the EULA. Bogus, but yeah, that Hackintosh owners break.

Anyhow, I didn't mean to turn this into a Hackintosh thread, I was only commenting on it for those who would think my views on piracy are the same as iPhone theft.
As for these days, I actually removed my Hackinosh partition. I have no more need for Final Cut. Sad, 1000 dollars I spent on it a while ago and now I don't need it. Kdenlive works enough for the stuff I do now.
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post #37 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chintan100 View Post

"...keeping the iPhone 3G and low-end iPhone 3GS in stock."

Yes low-end - as in the lesser of two models - with only 16GB of capacity and a lower price.
post #38 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

My take on Hackintoshing:
Apple does not make a computer to suit my needs, though I do require some software that is written only for OS X. Therefore, I could not by an Apple computer. Apple would have made no money off of me.
I built a computer to my needs, and bought the OS X. Yes, Apple doesn't get a hardware sale (they wouldn't have anyway) but they do get the OS sale (something they wouldn't have gotten anyway). Therefore, in my case, Apple isn't loosing any money on the sale of the OS. In fact, they are still gaining money since I would not have purchased any product if I couldn't build a Hackintosh.

Anyhow, I didn't mean to turn this into a Hackintosh thread, I was only commenting on it for those who would think my views on piracy are the same as iPhone theft.
As for these days, I actually removed my Hackinosh partition. I have no more need for Final Cut. Sad, 1000 dollars I spent on it a while ago and now I don't need it. Kdenlive works enough for the stuff I do now.

I didn't take objection to your hackintoshing, and I covered your situation in my example (you fall into the would not have bought a mac category). I took objection to you lumping piracy in with theft. All piracy is not equal, just like all hackintoshing is not equal. For every person like you, there is one who creates a hackintosh to avoid buying a mac although I don't really care about that, it is minor stuff on an individual level.

Personally, I stopped pirating when I could afford to pay for things. I buy all my software, music and movies. However I do download some Anime that isn't available in North America. If I've watched it and liked it, I do buy it if it becomes available here. That sounds remarkably similar to your situation with your hackintosh. We both go outside the law because what we want isn't available to us through traditional means, yet you seem to feel that what I do is worse because I downloaded something. Calling piracy theft is one of my biggest pet peeves. I could rattle off a huge list of situations where piracy is not harmful, or is even beneficial, then rant about how large corporations use piracy as an excuse to implement anti competitive measures and how that is only possible due to the general belief that piracy equals theft... but I believe I've said more than enough.
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post #39 of 46
The networks can allow service and the police can be provided the location records.
Although spoofing IMEI is possible, the police only need to find enough phones in use to track back to the thieves.
The GPS also sends unique meta-data when communicating with the sats, which so far is not easily spoofable. Some Gov'ts can reverse locate a specific "On" GPS chip, but not deny service without someone actually keystroking to the satellite. Depending on the level of the investigation this can very rapidly locate at least the geographic location of the phones and maybe the thieves.

Lots of ways to get caught now days, but it all depends on the effort the police/gov't want to make.

Most likely the thieves own errors will get them caught and none of us will ever hear about it.
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post #40 of 46
"The handsets were allegedly stolen from a Netherlands-based logistics company CEVA Logistics in Willebroek."
That's just unnecessarily confusing. Willebroek is definitely in Belgium. CEVA is a global company; the fact that it was once owned by dutch (formerly Australian) TNT doesn't really mean anything in this case.

"seriously annoyed by the intrusion," according to Google Translate.
Looks silly, but isn't that bad a translation of "zit men zwaar verveeld met de inbraak"; it's just a very belgian way of expression. What is REALLY annoying is that Google apparently doesn't have the correct translation for "inbraak" which is a very common word. It's a break in (as you might expect from the story).
It's really not that hard, Google: in braak - break in. Get your act together.
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