Police from the City of Lynnwood, just north of Seattle, noted that the thieves made their entry point by cutting a 24- by 18-inch hole through the bathroom wall of a neighboring espresso machine shop, Seattle Coffee Gear. (Related: More people are rapidly leaving crime-ridden, high-cost cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.)
The police added that the incident happened after 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, and neither the employees of the Apple store nor Seattle Coffee Gear were aware of what happened to either store until the next morning.
Lynnwood Police Department Communications Manager Maren McKay noted that approximately 436 iPhones were stolen, as well as a collection of other Apple products like iPads and Apple watches. The electronics, worth around $500,000 total, were taken through the hole and out of the mall.
McKay added that the burglary seems to be a well-organized operation based on what footage the police department was able to acquire from surveillance video. The police department is currently rejecting requests to view the surveillance footage due to it being an ongoing investigation.
"As of right now, no [fingerprints] have been found and the subjects entered wearing masks," said McKay. "No arrests have been made at this point, but detectives are currently investigating any information and leads.
Chance Miller of 9To5Mac wrote that Apple can likely track down and remotely block the serial numbers and IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) codes of the stolen products. This will prevent these devices from being activated. However, Miller added that the stolen devices will likely be resold to buyers who have no idea the products were stolen.
Brookfield Properties, the company that runs Alderwood Mall, said in a statement that it is angry about the incident and is working with the Lynnwood Police to help solve the burglary. The company added that the burglary was an isolated, targeted incident and claims it has a robust security program.
Seattle Coffee Gear Regional Manager Eric Marks said he did not know what to expect when he got the call regarding the incident on Monday morning, April 10. But he is grateful nobody was hurt because the burglary happened while the store was closed. He added that in the five years the store has been in the mall, he has never had to deal with anything like this.
"Our front door was locked. They pried our front door open," said Marks. "[It was a] 24 by 18 hole cut in the wall into what appears to be the back room of the Apple Store. I'm surprised we were the conduit for them to get to the Apple Store. I had no clue we were so close or adjacent to them."
"I would have never suspected we were adjacent to the Apple Store, how it wraps around I mean," added Marks. "So, someone really had to think it out and have access to the mall layout."
Seattle Coffee Gear has replaced its locks and will repair the damaged wall upon the conclusion of the investigation. The shop said the break-in has already cost them over $2,000 in repairs.
Organized retail crime has become a crime epidemic affecting most businesses in the United States. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at least 54 percent of small business owners experienced an increase in criminal incidents in 2021, including shoplifting.
Organized retail crimes like the incident that affected the Lynnwood Apple Store cost stores an average of over $700,000 per $1 billion in sales in 2020. This is up more than 50 percent in the last five years, and 57 percent of major retailers reported a rise in organized retail crime incidents in the past year.
Watch this clip from the "National Report" on Newsmax discussing how Seattle's streets are plagued with crime.