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Why thieves just stole $1.3 million in iPhones and iPads from Apple’s Paris store

iPhones like these were stolen from a Paris Apple store
AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Not quite worth their weight in gold, but easier to steal
By Christopher Mims
FrancePublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In a daring raid conducted while the police were busy corralling New Year’s Eve revelers on the Champs Elysees, four masked thieves brandishing handguns broke into Apple’s flagship Paris store after hours, making off with over €1 million ($1.3 million) in iPhones and iPads.

It was a “meticulously planned” raid in which thieves grabbed goods but almost no cash. But why did they focus on iThings?

Easy: by weight, the retail value of an unlocked iPhone 5 is $5.79 a gram, or $7.58 a gram for the fully loaded 64GB version. Compare that to gold, which is currently going for about $53.88 a gram, or cocaine, which in 2010 had a street value in France of $80 a gram.

The difference is that Apple stores aren’t nearly as well guarded as bank vaults or the warehouses of international drug cartels.

And in New York City, at least, iPhones and iPads can be re-sold at around half their retail value, which means $300 for a single stolen iPhone. France has a thriving trade in black market iThings, as does China and, it seems, most countries on earth. So the thieves don’t even have to draw suspicion by selling their goods inside France: A single 40-pound suitcase full of unboxed iPhone 5’s would be worth around $50,000 on the black market, and more if they are the high-end models.

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