Where have all the apples gone...
November 19, 2016 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Since Apple decided to stop tethering their products, I've been seeing stories in the news about people just walking into stores in large groups and walking off with thousands of dollars worth of items. Explain Apple's business plan to me.

In theory, I realize that Apple can just brick any devices after they connect to the internet. But I haven't actually seen any follow up stories to the theft stories where the thieves have been caught because they turned on a stolen computer or people buying phones on eBay only to find them bricked due to them being stolen. My local store has had over $100k of merchandise stolen over the past 3 months - I have no idea how they are still insured. Are they still insured?

I guess I'm looking for four things here:
1. How is this a good business plan for Apple?
2. Where is the second part of these theft stories where the phones turn up or the thieves are caught?
3. Where are these stolen items being taken to? Oversees? Broken down and reconstituted?
4. Who would insure a store that has 100k worth of merchandise stolen in 3 months?

Opinions or news stories welcome.
posted by Toddles to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. Apple stores have always been getting robbed. Thieves cut tethers easily. It's just their same old retail strategy that's been working out. It's a bit scary how coordinated some of these recent thefts are, though.
2. They do get caught. I just googled some stories.
3. They're supposedly sold for parts.
4. $400k in thefts a year is only about 1% of an Apple store's revenue. Since they have so much cash and a huge finance operation I am guessing Apple self-insures these losses anyway.
posted by michaelh at 10:18 PM on November 19, 2016

Apple stocks almost no merchandise on the sales floor. Peripherals, phone cases, cables, laptop bags etc? Sure. But I can't think of a single high-dollar item they sell that is kept out on the floor in large numbers. When you want to buy something, you find a sales associate, who gets the item from the stockroom and drops it at the cash register for you.

The monetary value of the floor models is probably a tiny drop in the bucket of any given Apple store's general L&D budget. They are probably more worried about employees stealing than they are that someone will come in and swipe a floor model iPad.
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apple stocks almost no merchandise on the sales floor

The Apple Store near me usually have 30-40 iPads, 20 iPhones, and 5-15 laptops on the tables right by the wide open doors. I agree that may not be a huge amount, but grabbing ten or twenty of those items would be over $10,000, would it not?
posted by saucysault at 5:45 AM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Saucysault, are you talking about floor models, or packaged merchandise for sale? Because if the former, that stuff is drastically devalued compared to "new in box" merchandise.

Even if a thief could resell it (at better than Apple refurb rates or used merchandise on ebay, natch), Apple would brick any item as soon as someone tried to connect it to the internet. Which would piss off the thief's customers and give them a bad reputation even among sketchy secondhand sellers.

Not to mention that, because the display models are already set up by the store and available for open use by any passer-by, there would also be labor involved in wiping and resetting each device.

So for large-scale thieves (anything beyond a stupid teenager pocketing an iphone), you're looking at:

1. The risk of stealing a worthwhile amount of merchandise from the sales floor, and probably for doing so to actually be sustainable. (Repeat thieves get recognized by store security quickly.)

2. The labor involved in wiping/restoring each device, listing it on Ebay, shipping items out, etc.

3. The reality that you can't actually sell the stolen devices for very much money, because there are already people selling used and refurbished Apple products online, and the only way to net sales is to price your product at "too good to be true" rates. Especially since most used Apple products will come with all included peripherals (chargers, cables, adapters, etc) and often in their original packaging including manual.

4. The knowledge that there's a high degree of diminishing returns, because within a few sales, people are going to start realizing that all your merchandise is stolen. Which is a big problem for Apple products, because that means that as soon as you try to use what you bought, Apple will brick the device. You will lose customers as fast as you gained them.

So, for professional thieves, the incentive just isn't there. Most thieves on the sales floor are stupid kids who don't know that the iphone they just slipped in their pocket is going to get bricked as soon as they take it home and connect it to wifi. Apple Store L&D isn't worried about these people. Instead, L&D is probably much more focused on shrinkage, credit card fraud, faulty cash handling, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2016

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