Lightning strikes twice: iPhone 5 prototype lost in CA bar

"I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong," the bar owner was quoted as saying.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Yes, you read that right.

I did a double take when I read on CNet News that an Apple employee had lost an iPhone 5 prototype in a bar. I mean, surely it was a typo for iPhone 4 and it was just an RSS anomaly that pushed a story from last year into my RSS feeds, right?

Sadly, no.

Another Apple employee indeed lost another iPhone prototype in another San Francisco bar. And either lightning just struck twice or there are too many iPhone engineers drinking too much high-powered hooch in the valley after work.

If the story sounds familiar, that's because it is. In April 2010 Apple iPhone engineer Robert Gray Powell, infamously left his prototype iPhone 4 in a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif. Gizmodo purchased the prototype for $5,000 and published numerous photos and videos of the previously top-secret device.

CNet's Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh got the exclusive on this year's Apple employee blunder of the year:

The errant iPhone, which went missing in San Francisco's Mission district in late July, sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the investigation...

A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said the company did not file a police report based on the loss at the bar. Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco's Cava 22, which describes itself as a "tequila lounge" that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source.

When San Francisco police and Apple's investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

Luckily for Apple the lost iPhone 5 has yet to be defiled on the Internet. In fact, it's been lost since July and no one knows where it is.

Update: In its post on the topic Gizmodo snarkily implies "pics or it isn't real." (Funny, I can't stop re-loading that site...)

Headline contest: What headline would you have written for this post?

Photo: James Martin/CNET

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