Burglar didn't know it was Jobs' house

2012-08-15 17:54


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San Francisco - A thief burglarised Steve Jobs' house in the high-tech hub of Palo Alto, California, stealing the late Apple co-founder's wallet, more than $60 000 in jewellery and several computers, but was unaware of whose home he had broken into, authorities said.

Kariem McFarlin, 35, was charged with burglary and selling stolen property after the 17 July break-in, when the house was unoccupied during renovations, said Scott Tsui, a Santa Clara County prosecutor.

The 17 July burglary came just over nine months after Jobs died in October at age 56 after a battle with cancer.

His Silicon Valley home, about 48km south of San Francisco, briefly became a gathering place for admirers who left flowers on the sidewalk out front.

McFarlin did not appear to know the house, an English country-style home, belonged to Jobs when he entered the property, Tsui said.

Random burglary

"We don't have any evidence to show his house was targeted," Tsui said. "All we know is that it was a random burglary that can happen to people."

Jobs' widow, Laurene, told investigators the home had been undergoing a major renovation since June and was uninhabitable, and that she was living on a nearby property at the time of the break-in, according to a police report filed in court.

McFarlin, who faces a 20 August plea hearing, told investigators he was driving around in Palo Alto and saw the house was being renovated so he decided to burglarise it, according to documents from the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (React) of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

The multi-agency task force is a unique Silicon Valley-based law enforcement operation that handles high-tech crimes.

iMacs, iPads, jewellery

McFarlin told investigators he had learned from previous break-ins to target homes under construction because they were likely to be vacant, the React report said.

McFarlin also said he stole several computers, including two iMacs and three iPads, as well as a diamond necklace, earrings and other items, according to React documents filed in court.

Also taken was Jobs' wallet with the late tech giant's California driver's license and some credit cards, the React papers said. The wallet was retrieved in a search of McFarlin's storage locker, according to the documents.

Of the pieces of jewellery taken from the home, a platinum and aquamarine necklace was valued at $33 000, according to a Tiffany & Co valuation included in the court papers. That item and other jewellery taken from the home totalled over $60 000, the court papers said.

Connection tracked

A Pennsylvania jewellery broker said McFarlin sold him some jewellery in late July that he claimed to have inherited, according to a police report included in the court papers. McFarlin shipped the items to the broker, the report said.

Police tracked down McFarlin with help from Apple investigators, who noticed an iPad stolen from the Jobs house was connected to the company's servers on 18 July, the morning after the burglary.

The user of the iPad was re-installing the operating system, the papers said, and by tracing the internet connection, police found McFarlin's home in Alameda, just south of Oakland.

He was arrested 2 August and held on $500 000 bail, according to Santa Clara County inmate records.

Palo Alto police declined to comment as did a spokesperson for Jobs' widow. An attorney for McFarlin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read more on:    apple  |  steve jobs

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