Cops nab suspect in burglary of Steve Jobs' house
The home of the late Steve Jobs, Apple's iconic co-founder, became one of Palo Alto's latest burglary targets last month when a man allegedly made off with at least two Apple computers, an iPad and a host of other electronic equipment and jewelry from the Waverley Street residence, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Police believe the burglary occurred between the evening of July 17 and the morning of July 18 at Jobs' home in Old Palo Alto. The home is currently undergoing renovation, including roof work, and authorities believe no one was home at the time of the incident. The incident was reported on July 20, according to the Palo Alto Police Department report log.
Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Scott Tsui said the suspect is Kariem McFarlin, 35, of Alameda. McFarlin was arrested after Palo Alto officers and investigators from the regional Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force used data obtained from Apple and AT&T to track the stolen computers, which were connecting to the Internet and Apple servers from McFarlin's home in Alameda, according to a report from REACT investigator Marshall Norton.
According to the report, McFarlin — a former San Jose State University cornerback — had admitted to burglarizing the Jobs residence and to being involved in several other burglaries of private residences in San Francisco.
Jobs' two-story home was undergoing construction and was unoccupied at the time of the burglary, according to the police. Jobs' widow, Laureen Powell Jobs, had told the police that the home has been uninhabitable because of major renovations since mid-June. The general contractor for the renovation discovered the burglary on the morning of July 18.
While police had confirmed that two Apple computers and an iPad tablet were among the items stolen, they are still working to ascertain what other Apple products were taken during the burglary. Other items that were reported stolen included a wallet with credit cards, various iPods and remotes, a Ninja Blender, a Sodastream Soda Maker and "Monster Beats by Dr. Dre" headphones, a Tiffany platinum and aquamarine necklace valued at $33,000, another Tiffany necklace with diamonds valued at $28,500 and a pair of earrings valued at about $3,000.
Investigators relied on search records, serial numbers, IP addresses and social-media sites to track down the suspect. They learned after contacting Apple that the operator of the iPad in question was trying to re-install the operating system the morning after the burglary and was connecting to Apple servers through a wireless AT&T connection. They then used the IP address in this connection to link the equipment to two Apple iTunes accounts, one of which belonged to McFarlin.
Between July 24 and 26, investigators tracked down more evidence linking the stolen computers to other IP addresses associated with McFarlin's iTunes accounts. They received search warrants related to his customer accounts and learned from Apple's investigators that McFarlin used the iPad to log on to his iTunes account, according to investigator Marshall Norton's report.
Investigators made further headway on July 29, when they tracked the same iPad to a Comcast IP address associated with a woman living in Alameda County. They then learned that the woman, Jacqueline Richard, was one of McFarlin's "friends" on Facebook. Officers and REACT investigators used this evidence to get a search warrant for McFarlin's Alameda home. They raided the house on Aug. 2 and arrested McFarlin without incident. Norton wrote in the report that while at the house, he observed an iMac on a desk in the kitchen area. The computer's serial number was the same as on the computer that was taken during a burglary.
During his interview with REACT Task Force Agent Tim Crowley, McFarlin allegedly admitted that he stole two iMacs, three iPads, three iPods, an Apple TV, a diamond necklace and earrings and "several other items" found in his house, including a wallet with $1 inside it. According to the report, McFarlin told investigators that he threw several furniture cushions over the cyclone fence installed around the house because of renovations and dropped the stolen property on to the cushions to protect the items from breaking.
McFarlin also allegedly told the investigators that he had shipped the jewelry from the Waverley home to a seller in Pennsylvania (Palo Alto officers have since identified this seller, who agreed to return the jewelry). He also said he put the stolen items into his storage locker in Alameda. He consented to have the agents search the locker. Inside, they found a wallet containing Steve Jobs' driver's license, credit cards and "other personal items."
McFarlin explained during the interview that he had been homeless and was living on the streets in his car, according to the report. He said he targeted the house because it appeared to be under construction and unoccupied. He allegedly told investigators that he was alone and that he did not realize whose house he was in until he was inside and he saw a letter addressed to Jobs.
Once inside, McFarlin "rummaged through all of the rooms, removing various computers and camera equipment," according to a report from Palo Alto Detective Sgt. James Reifschneider. He also allegedly told the police that he had given away two of the iPads he had stolen, one to his juvenile daughter and another to his friend, Kenneth Kahn. Both Kahn and McFarlin's daughter said during the investigation that they didn't know the items had been stolen and handed them over to the REACT agents.
Tsui said it did not appear from the investigation that the home was targeted because of its association with one of Silicon Valley's leading pioneers.
"As far as we know, it seems like it was random," Tsui said.
McFarlin was arraigned on Aug. 7 and is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 20, at which time he is expected to enter a plea. He is facing charges of burglary and selling of stolen property, Tsui said. The maximum sentence he can receive is seven years and eight months.
He is currently being held on $500,000 bail.
The incident is the latest in a long string of burglaries that has hit Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities in recent months. By early May, the city had reported 81 residential burglaries in the first four months of the year, compared to 34 in 2010 and 43 in 2011. The trend seemed to have eased off in April, when the number of reported burglaries dropped to seven. However, three more Palo Alto home burglaries were reported this past weekend, according to a police report.