Earlier this year, three individuals stole a total of 67 iPhones from an Upper West Side Apple store. Last week, 19 more iPhones were snatched from a SoHo store. How could these criminals possibly infiltrate the impenetrable security of a retail store run by certifiable geniuses? By dressing like Apple store employees, of course.
It’s clear that these thieves know their way around an Apple store. In all the robberies, the suspects “dressed similarly” to Apple employees, walking directly to the drawers where brand-new, unlocked iPhones were stored. And the Upper West Side location is a particularly smart target since it’s used to train employees—an unfamiliar face wearing the uniform wouldn’t stick out. In fact, that location was hit twice, according to the New York Post.
A new uniform concept for Apple employees introduced by Apple’s senior VP of retail might be to blame for the robberies. In 2015, Angela Ahrendts announced her vision for uniforms called “Back to Blue… But All New” which introduced several different styles of shirts for employees to wear.
Apple uniforms used to change seasonally, with all employees wearing the same t-shirts for weeks or months at a time, pegged to the next holiday or product launch. As 9 to 5 Mac reported, the switch to “permanent” uniforms is meant to make Apple stores feel more high-end, like the luxury outposts they are meant to be. But not only does the wide variety of shirts that are now allowed make it more difficult to quickly recognize who does and does not work for the store—Pro tip: Don’t go to Target wearing red unless you want to be asked where the deodorant is—this also makes it much easier to get your hands on a regulation blue shirt since they’re not retired like the old t-shirts.
Police have only connected the two UWS robberies as related and it’s not clear from the reports if these thieves were wearing the official shirts or close approximations. But either way, Apple might want to revisit that strategy. It’s not the first time someone’s successfully posed as an Apple employee. It doesn’t look that hard.