Customer with stolen MacBook Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by tgpctech, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. tgpctech macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2013
    Hey everybody,
    I work at a computer repair shop and we have a customer who will be bringing in in a 2012 macbook air that I'm 90% sure is stolen. He called us because of the firmware lock, and he did his research on how to get past it. After he couldn't figure it out he asked if we could do it.

    I initially said we'd try because I've never dealt with that problem before and there are legitimate customers who have this issue. He doesn't have the restore disk, doesn't want to call apple support, and has since the initial call he has called us about 7 other macbooks he needs help fixing/restoring.

    My boss wants to have him drop it off, search the drive to ensure it is stolen, and then report him to the authorities and contact apple to find the owner. This is a wonderful idea, but since the world isn't perfect I'm worried about what will happen if we do this. The guy is driving to us from an hour away, who know what he is involved with, we don't need to have gang members hitting our store. I want to report him, but am just nervous about some kind of retaliation and being that we are in Chicago, its a serious issue. What would you do?
  2. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020


    Mar 28, 2013
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    I'd hate to be in your shoes, hopefully someone here will have good advice. If I knew they were stolen I would report it, but I can see your concern about your safety.
  3. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    Isn't there some way you can look up and see who purchased it by the serial number?
  4. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    I would be concerned. You have the option of just telling them that you're shop is incapable of doing that kind of work and sending them on their way without referring them to anyone else. As much as I would love to tell you to report them if the computer is stolen, what if they did not do the stealing. What if they bought them legit without knowing they were stolen. You also have to consider retaliation.

    Tough decision you have to make.
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Agreed. Since you aren't 100% sure it is stolen, but it appears dodgy, I'd tell them you can't fix it and send them on their way.
  6. famous600 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 8, 2010
    I'm going to assume you are not an Apple authorized repair facility by your question. There is nothing you can do unless you are an apple retail store or an authorized repair facility to resolve this issue. You can call Apple but they will just refer you to law enforcement. Let the thief drive an hour to waste his gas and time ;)
  7. davideotape macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2012
    dumb question-- are there general policies that you can put in place as a rule that you can say like "ok-- we can probably do this, for these type of repairs we do need proof of ownership"

    as much as you might want to play good samaritan and flag every suspicious computer, unless you're aware of a specific computer being stolen (like someone calls or flyers the shop or you see a posting on craigslist with the specs) i don't know if it's practical, or even ethical, to make it your policy to collect all suspicious computers and start digging for proof it's stolen.

    but yeah i agree its suspicious though- the fact that he's even going an hour to meet you raises some flags. why wouldnt he go somewhere more local?


    oh and haha i missed the "7 other macbooks" thing.
  8. iAmLOD macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2013
  9. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    if it were my laptop that was stolen, i'd be pretty pissed off if somebody helped him get into it. of course, i'm not going to break the law and commit an act of violence against someone who does me wrong so looks like i lose twice.

    i can't tell you what to do, but when i worked IT in college I definitely turned people in that i thought had stolen laptops. No idea what happened, never came back to me. This is obviously a LOT different as for all its charms Chicago is crime infested so your concerns are perhaps not unwarranted.

    You might not want to turn them in, but you don't have to help them either.

    I'm sure you'll do what's right.
  10. Givmeabrek macrumors 68040


    Apr 20, 2009
    As said above just require proof of ownership for any unlocking. :apple:
  11. techn0lady macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2010
    1. Take the machine to the Apple store and ask them to bypass the lock - they will charge you and you can pass this on to the consumer. Using a subcontractor is a perfectly legitimate business practice.

    2. Next is not so legitimate :( - If you are successful in getting the lock disabled then access the user's email and determine the original user. Send him a message asking if his laptop has been stolen. If it has then arrange for the owner and police to be onsite when the thief picks up the laptop.

    If it has then you will be out the price of Apple's firmware bypass - which the original owner will probably (??) refund to you for recovering the laptop
  12. dawgfang macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2005
    Chicago is a gun free zone. Go ahead and do what you want, you'll be fine.
  13. Lunfai macrumors 65816


    Nov 21, 2010
    I'd create an excuse like you're not allowed to service Macbook Air's because of new policies. Just create something along the line of this, just don't get involved either way.
  14. barrk macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2012
    That is sarcasm right?
  15. sostoobad macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2011
    Too bad the criminals did't get that memo.:eek:
  16. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    Not saying all is well here, but a 2012 Air doesn't come with a restore disc.

    And I'm not really sure where it is your business really to be searching someone's hard drive for incriminating evidence without any sort of cause other than a funny feeling in your stomach. If you have legit concerns call you local police station and ask them to run the serial number to see if it is stolen. That is the one and only step you should take if you do anything.
  17. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    very clearly
  18. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007

    Tell him the truth: not being an authorized Apple service center, you can't override the firmware lock on a mac that has been put in lost mode. Your customer should save himself the trip.

    he needs to go to an Apple store to get his 7 locked macs under suspicious circumstances unlocked. There isn't any way around this. There's nothing he can do to change this, and nothing you can do to change it either.

    If he can't or won't do this, then what he has is 7 aluminum paperweights.
  19. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    The apple store is unlikely to bypass the lock without some proof of ownership. If you show up and Apple finds that the MBA is stolen, you can be arrested for possession of stolen device.

    The smart thing is to just say we can't do it. Having SEVEN Macs with lost firmware lock is a sure sign of stolen equipment in my book.
  20. dawgfang macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2005
    You have a keen eye for the obvious.... :)
  21. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Your boss is interested in taking on the role of detective. I can see counseling him/her on the wisdom of that choice, but in the end, the boss sets the policies. However, if you're uneasy about being caught in the middle, explain this to the boss. Since criminal activity is suspected, I don't think it's appropriate for the boss to put employees at risk.

    It's a tricky situation. I can spin circumstances that add up to "perfectly legit" plus "source of steady, multi-machine repair business." Of course, the opposite seems even more likely, considering the travel times involved.

    There's also a legal/business risk in being a "good samaritan." If the customer turns out to be perfectly legit, snooping into the contents of the hard drive may be actionable, could result in negative publicity for the shop, etc.
  22. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Isn't there a database out there of report stolens?
  23. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    I wish. A national database of stolen computer serial numbers would be great. Or better yet a worldwide
  24. MeatRocket macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    In the Sandbox
    You'd think since Apple controls the software and the hardware, this would be rather easy for them. I'm very disappointed that Apple has shirked this responsibility for so long. Paying double for a similarly equipped PC should warrant a higher level of service in this front, especially since Apple products are so prone to being stolen.

    I am glad to see Apple introduce the lock on the new iOS, but in my opinion it's too little, too late. They've had the means to do this forever ago, just not the wherewithal.
  25. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I think the best thing to do is to have your boss contact the police first, before you take possession of anything. See what they recommend if you think you received calls from someone part of a crime ring. One firmware lock could be an accidental activation of Find My Mac. 8 sounds like a crime ring.

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