back to article Police warn of bad Apples that fell off the back of a truck after highway robbery

Northamptonshire Police in the UK have warned locals to be on the lookout for suspiciously well-priced Apple products after a literal highway robbery saw 48 pallets loaded with Cupertino kit stolen. "The incident took place on the southbound slip road at Junction 18 of the M1, between 7.45pm and 8pm on Tuesday, November 10, …

  1. Jess

    Won’t they know where the stolen items are as soon as they connect to a network? And then turn it off.

    1. Mark #255

      Yes, they will.

      The hapless, naïve mark (or negligently myopic receiver-of-stolen-goods) is not intended to come out of this situation ahead of the game.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        C-M-O-T Dibbler shall be with us always.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      They are less concerned with them be resold as is

      I think most people know by now not to buy iPhones from some guy selling them out of his trunk, because they won't work when you try to activate them. Activation lock solved that problem years ago, so now the crooks mostly don't even try but break them up for parts instead.

      That's why Apple has been making it harder to swap parts between phones. They've said they want to eliminate theft of iPhones by making stolen phones "worthless" to thieves (though they're probably thinking more about phones stolen from their owners, not off trucks)

      Of course this has the side of effect of making it so small time repair shops can't swap parts between phones. Hopefully they can find a middle ground that makes stolen phones worthless as parts while still providing a way for repair shops to swap parts out of legitimately obtained iPhones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They are less concerned with them be resold as is

        Not just small time repair shops.

        Apple's typical system is to have authorised repairers order in a refurb replacement.

        How would it benefit their business model to make it easier for people to repair their products?

    3. bazza Silver badge


      I guess it depends. iPhones: yes probably. Macs? Less certain. Monitors, peripheral? Probably not.

      Besides none if that matters to the robbers if they can offload it, it'll be the people who buy it who'll find out the hard way. And it won't necessarily be sold off piecemeal in pubs, etc - they're closed at the moment. I'm not sure buying second hand items off eBay is going to be a good idea at the moment.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

    unless the truck had a big shiny Apple painted on the outside... Especially with 48 pallets. And, if on pallets, Apple knows which phones to brick once they come on line, and which locations to send johnny law.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

      Apple recently paid a huge bug bounty to some enterprising youngs hackers for, amongst other things, poor authentication security on the Dassault software that Apple use for managing warehouses and logistics. Naturally they informed Apple and only disclosed their work after Apple's security team gave them the nod.

      So yeah, could be inside job. Could be patient thieves staking out area and discerning patterns. Could be a security hole in logistics.

      1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

        Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

        ERP compromise perhaps

        I think the feeling is, it’s not so much about if and when a company gets hacked, but if and when they actually get around to discovering they’ve been hacked.

        Not a lot of cash available for those operations according to the decision makers of a lot of conpanies.

        To add onto this dilemma, anybody going to school in the UK may discover their IT lessons to be a “bit shit”

        IT, a janitorial role in the eyes of the many “adults” upstairs

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

          IT, a janitorial role in the eyes of the many “adults” upstairs

          In many ways it is. IT cleans up other people's problems. "ON CALL" is proof of that.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

            "IT Janitor" is one of my tertiary job titles, because when the digital fecal matter hits the digital fan, it usually winds up with me having to clean up the mess...

    2. confused and dazed

      Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

      This assumes that individual phones are tracked by Apple , and that serial numbers A,B &C were on these pallets throughout the supply chain

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Inside Job, and not the sharpest whats it in the thingy

        Apple knows the serial numbers of all the phones they've built, and the serial numbers / barcodes or whatever for each pallet they ship. They have to rely on the buyer to manage their own inventory and know pallets X, Y and Z were on that particular truck. If they just throw pallets in the truck willy nilly without scanning them then Apple won't have any way to disable those phones.

        But considering how much each pallet would be worth, what are the odds that a company wouldn't take a few seconds to scan in each of the 28 pallets as they were loaded onto the truck? It isn't like the technology to track inventory isn't readily available. So probably safe to say that Apple knows exactly which phones have gone missing, and they will be bricked the minute they are first connected to a network and can access Apple's servers.

  3. werdsmith Silver badge

    I had ordered an Apple thing (not iPhone) as a gift from a large department store online and it didn’t arrive. When I called them about it they explained a large shipment to the courier has “disappeared” on the same day. Seems there’s a lot of it going on.

  4. 45RPM Silver badge

    Would it not be the worst purchase ever? I mean, presumably these things will identify themselves when logging in to iCloud, doing a software update etc - and then get locked. Or do they have to have been signed in initially for this functionality to activate?

    1. Test Man

      Yeah of course but it doesn't matter by that point, the thieves will have your money already and be long gone.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Only if you are dumb enough to buy a brand new iPhone out of some guy's trunk, or dumb enough to buy from some small shop whose owner is shady enough to buy some iPhones that he will absolutely know are stolen.

        Not sure what Apple would do in the latter case. If they are smart they'd say "we'll exchange your phone for a new one in exchange for your proof of purchase from the shady shop" that they can use to help the police go after the shop owner and put pressure on him to give up the guy who sold him the phones, and hope it leads back to the thieves.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      This article doesn't say what items were nicked. Certainly stolen iPhones aren't easy to use, but I don't know if Macs can be remotely bricked with a serial number.

      Does logging on to iCloud give Apple the serial number of the Mac?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Not sure if logging into iCloud would, but accessing Apple's activation servers (which is a required step in the setup of a new iPhone even if like me you don't use iCloud) will, that's how activation lock functions.

        I don't use Macs so I can't say for sure but I would assume they have something similar - not necessarily "activation" since they don't use the cell network but there's probably some "check if I'm legit" process when you are setting up a Mac up from scratch.

        It probably gets that information every time a phone/Mac checks for updates from Apple's servers. Otherwise how could a stolen item ever be located, if there isn't some way they are making their ID known to Apple? If the server says "hey you're listed as stolen" it can provide whatever information it has about its location. Easy with a phone thanks to GPS, a bit harder with a Mac since you'd have to use IP geolocation and hope it is at least somewhat accurate.

        1. Kernel

          "I don't use Macs so I can't say for sure but I would assume they have something similar - not necessarily "activation" since they don't use the cell network but there's probably some "check if I'm legit" process when you are setting up a Mac up from scratch."

          I'm not sure that's actually the case for Macs - the instance of MAC OS (Catalina, IIRC) that I run under KVM on my Linux/Win10 laptop doesn't seem to have any issues and it certainly logs on to Apple's servers and picks up updates from there. It could be, of course, that the install process inserted a MAC address in KVM that was already recognised by Apple as a legit one of theirs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      parts cant be cloud locked

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        No but they can be hardware locked.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        parts cant be cloud locked

        Sure they can. If Apple builds iPhone serial number I0001 with display serial number D0001 and mainboard serial number M0001 then when iPhone I0001 checks in, Apple knows it is using display D0001 and mainboard M0001.

        If they restrict it so you can't put display D0002 into iPhone I0001 without having that part swap properly recorded on Apple's servers, then that prevents iPhone I0002 from being stolen and split up for parts and display D0002 being used to replace broken display D0001 in iPhone I0001. That prevents shady repair shops from buying stolen phones to use for repairs thus reducing the value of stolen iPhones on the black market, but as a side effect it also prevents legit repair shops from buying legit phones and using them as a source of parts.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's difficult to know nowadays who is stealing from whom. nowadays.

    It's difficult to know nowadays who is stealing from whom, the way these multi-nationals operate with Apple's 30% take of iOS Apps, the massive mark-ups on memory/ssd storage options, the deliberate obsolescence of Macs like the extremely capable 2013 iMac 27'' (and in 4 years, all Intel based macs), and the soldered NAND chips forming the SSD, so the product has a deliberate limited design life right out the box, with Apple have pretty much a monopoly on repairs.

    Can't say I have any feeling of a sense of loss for Apple, because the cost of this will be put squarely at the feet of the logistics company and the poor bastard that was driving the vehicle. I very much doubt anyone at Apple will take any responsibility.

    And if you look at this in the cold light of day, 'the positives' if all goes well, the main benefactor should be the consumer in terms of obtaining genuine Apple spares via non-official sources. Yes, screens and logic boards will be in the most part, worthless, but a supply of genuine Apple NAND chips to replace the built-in obsolescence of the ones soldered to the board, means maybe, a defunct Apple product might one day get a new lease of life from this heist and the cost of replacing the glass back of an iPhone with a genuine part, might actually be possible by a third party.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It's difficult to know nowadays who is stealing from whom. nowadays.

      Conversely, the inability of thieves to make easy use of stolen iPhones is one of the reasons that people aren't inconvenienced by thieves snatching their phones as often these days. You could have the Landrover Defender model where easily interchangable parts have left legitimate vehicle owners with panels missing because some sod has nicked them in the night.

      Whatever. You rather undermine the moral arguments for Right to Repair by equating existing practise with actual theft and assault.

      And another thing, the logistics company's insurance premiums are part of their known operations expenditure passed on to their client, and ultimately the consumer. That's the whole point of insurance, to turn an infrequent big expense in to an expected small expense.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: main benefactor should be the consumer in terms of obtaining genuine Apple spares

      What? Stolen goods is somehow a net-positive to the consumer, and so receiving/handling stolen goods shouldn't be a crime, as long as those goods are Apple parts?

      Nobody likes planned obsolesence and vendor lock-in, but tacitly encouraging shipment hijacking is really not the way to solve those issues.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Dare I say

    "They weren't holding them up right"?

    The one with suspiciously heavy pockets, thanks -->

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Keep those eyes peeled folks...

  8. Norman Nescio Silver badge


    I must admit, when I heard the news report on BBC Radio 4, I was mystified why national news was reporting the heist of fruit. Then it struck me when it was reported to be such a high value, I tried to think of what kind of processed apples (apple products) could get to such values, and came to the conclusion that it could only be vintage Calvados.


    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Calvados?

      You've given me all the excuse I need to post this Ronnie Corbett sketch. A classic. How he & Harry Enfield managed to keep their faces (mostly) straight I'll never know.

      1. Test Man

        Re: Calvados?

        HAHA forgotten about that. Brilliant!

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Calvados?

        Looks suspiciously like the same shop set on which The Dead Parrot Sketch was filmed. Of course, it couldn't be, but...

        (equally hilarious, though)

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Calvados?

      I'd rather have a pallet of Gala.

      I do like those.

      Especially from local farms.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Calvados?

      SWMBO had much the same reaction. "Apple" and "apple" are pronounced the same.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Calvados?

        Then you are pronouncing it wrong.

        Like potato and potato...

  9. Martin Summers Silver badge

    If it's an Apple product you steal, can you call it scrumping?

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      How did that get missed? el reg is normally on the ball for that sort of pun.

      icon is sub ed after realising ------->

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      If it's an Apple product it will be iScrumping.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And then they were gone.

    And the cargo left the UK 8 hrs later :)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: And then they were gone.

      Not via Felixstowe.

  11. druck Silver badge

    Cheap M1s from the M1

    See the dodgy geezer at your local boozer.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Cheap M1s from the M1

      As long as you don't have to then pay him 30% of all your pints

  12. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

    How to sell these?

    Go to eBay and sell them as "slightly used" and a moderate discount?

    So nothing suspicious up to the moment you power it up?

    (asking for a friend ;-) )

  13. Colonel Mad

    48 Pallets on a single truck, more Apple exageration!

    1. CJPM

      See a couple of likes but no sign of sarcasm. 2 up and 2 across make 4 pallets in 4 linear feet of trailer

      x 12 racks of skids front to back make 48 pallets of product. Apple exaggeration?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Xmas came early, or not...

    Many years ago, where I worked had a brand new mobile, still sealed in the box, "relocated" from the managers desk while out of hours.

    There was no cameras and the RFID card readers on the doors just showed the usual staff for that time of night.

    As it was some time in December, someone thought they had got their significant other / favourite child and early (and free) Xmas present.

    The IT manager organised for the phone IMEI to be blocked at 14:00 on Xmas day...just as the user would be doing some setup.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Xmas came early, or not...

      Brilliantly evil. I like it!

  15. Mike 16

    Ah, Memories

    Back when UseNet (well, many a comp.* group) was awaiting news that the first Pentiums (Pentia?) had shipped. Came the message (roughly):

    Depends how you define "Shipped". The first load of packaged parts was hijacked on its way from the assembly plant to the airport.

    (Yes, I could be mistaken about the exact hotly-anticipated new x86 processor. Corrections welcomed)

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Its funny

      I suspect when $10 million of iPhones or $10 million of Intel CPUs are shipped on a truck, that truck probably has a lot less armor and security than $10 million in cash or gold would have. So it makes sense that you read about these sort of thefts more often than someone making off with $10 million from an armored car.

      1. Old Used Programmer

        Re: Its funny

        A friend of mine who died some years ago used to related an experience he had....

        After he left the US Air Force, one of the jobs he had for a while was as a bank guard. One day he was called into a room where two sets of bankers were transferring bearer bonds from one group to the other. Bearer bonds, for those unfamiliar, are bank bonds made out to "Bearer". They are, for all intents and purposes, cash. My friend said that what went through his mind was, "There is $8.5 million on that table and I am the only person in the room with a gun."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its funny

        Bear in mind though, there is a difference between $10 million of iPhones and $10 million in cash or gold... one would cost $10 million to replace, and the other would be closer to $10.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Its funny

          $10 million in cash is only replaceable for $10 if you own the printing press. If you're a bank, it is a $10 million loss for you (or rather your insurance company)

  16. Aussie Doc


    Real highway robbery instead or the, erm, other type of highway robbery.

    Somebody's holding it wrong.

  17. very angry man


    some mid level manager is going to buy these at a really good price and put out for sale through some legit out let, and jonny consumer is going to experience Apple care at no extra cost

  18. Bitsminer Silver badge

    'allo Tim?

    Would you like your mobile phones back?

    Just send 66.6 bitcoin to the following address.....

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