Undercover Cops Are Selling iPhones On The Street To Get People To Stop Buying Stolen iPhones

By Lily Newman on at

In San Francisco, police are using a new tactic to disincentive people from buying stolen iPhones: they're trapping them in undercover stings. Wearing plain clothes, the officers are going around certain city areas and selling iPhones which they readily indicate are stolen. When someone tries to buy one, they make an arrest.

The goal is to reduce the market for stolen iPhones by scaring consumers away. The police say that in San Francisco half of all thefts involve stealing smartphones, and often thieves target women. The police are specifically setting up in areas that they know are popular for selling stolen goods, like the corner of 7th and Market Streets.

For the operation to be legal, the police officers must have the would-be customer name a price rather than suggesting one. Huffington Post reports that buyers tend to suggest offers ranging from $25 (£16) to $200 (£130). It's unclear whether this tactic will accomplish anything in terms of reducing the demand for stolen iPhones and by extension iPhone theft. A similar effort in New York City led to a lawsuit which alleges that members of NYPD were pressuring buyers and baiting them. Maybe it's best to stay away from stolen iPhones for awhile. Or, you know, just always. [Huffington Post via CNET]