Thieves smash hole in wall to nab $500K in Apple iKit

So, like, three iPhones and a Mac keyboard

Pic Unidentified individuals managed to break through the wall of a coffee equipment maker's bathroom in a shopping center this week to enter and rob an adjacent Apple Store.

The raid occurred on April 2, 2023, between 1900 and 2000 PT, at the Apple Store at Alderwood Mall, in Lynnwood, Washington, a city just north of Seattle in the US.

"When Apple employees arrived the next morning they discovered an entire wall of iPhones (approximately 436) were gone," a spokesperson for the Lynnwood Police Department told The Register in an email. "There was approximately 500K worth of merchandise stolen (that includes iPhones, Apple Watches etc)."

The police spokesperson said no fingerprints have been found and the subjects who entered the Apple Store were wearing masks.

"No arrests have been made at this point, but the case has been assigned to a detective and it's been actively investigated," the spokesperson said.

An Apple Store employee referred The Register to Apple's corporate communications department, and true to form, the iGiant did not respond to a request for comment.

Mike Atkinson, CEO of coffee appliance vendor Seattle Coffee Gear, posted a picture of the damaged bathroom wall at his Alderwood store to his Twitter account. He said two men broke into the store and through the bathroom wall to reach the Apple Store.

A report from NBC affiliate King5 suggests that by entering through the wall, the thieves gained access to a back room of the Apple Store and were able to avoid setting off Apple's security system. It includes video of the damage.

Apple Stores have proven to be a popular ORC target, an acronym used by the US National Retail Federation (NRF) for "organized retail crime" that comes preloaded with negative connotations through author JRR Tolkein's use of the word.

And yet the NRF balks at the word "theft," preferring the euphemism "shrink" in its place, as if retail items shrivel and vanish independently of human action.

"Findings show retail shrink, when taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2021, accounted for $94.5 billion in losses, up from $90.8 billion in 2020," an NRF spokesperson told The Register in an email. "Organized retail crime (ORC), a critical component of that shrink, is a growing challenge both for retailers and the industry at large."

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta used the term "organized retail theft" when describing the arrests of, and charges against, eight individuals in February for alleged involvement in a crime ring primarily targeting Apple Stores. In that case, the ORC (or ORT) gang is said to have been responsible for about $1 million in losses.

According to the NRF, "ORC costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales," which is up 50 percent since 2015.

In January, the retail lobbying group applauded the "Introduction of Critical ORC Legislation" in the US Senate, specifically the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023 [PDF] and the Organized Retail Crime Center Authorization Act [PDF].

Though lacking the sort of provocative acronyms politicians prefer to promote their legislation, these bills include provisions that allow judges to order criminal forfeiture after convictions and strengthen money laundering statutes, in order to punish ORC gangs more effectively. ®

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