San Jose Mercury News
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Kariem McFarlin told detectives he was desperate for easy cash when he saw the Palo Alto home being renovated, hopped over the fence, found a spare key and went inside. No lights, no alarm, no one home. Then he discovered what hallowed ground he was on: the home of iconic, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Alone and with free reign of a house belonging to one of the richest and most secretive families on the planet, McFarlin made off with some of the legendary gadgets Jobs helped create, police said in a report released Tuesday, one month after a break-in just now being publicized. He grabbed iPhones, iPads, Macs and iPods, then found Jobs’ wallet — with a single dollar inside — and took his driver’s license.
PolIce said he also snatched $60,000 worth of Tiffany’s jewelry and Cristal champagne, and even took a soda maker and kitchen blender.
Ultimately, it was Jobs’ company’s own technology that allowed Apple and a special Silicon Valley high tech crime task force to track down the alleged burglar, a former San Jose State football player who friends described as a high school nerd and “good guy.”
Police said when McFarlin, 35, used the stolen devices to connect to the Internet with his iTunes account following the July 17 heist, Apple investigators were able to identify him using an IP address. After gathering more evidence, police swarmed his Alameda, Calif., apartment and found many of the items he allegedly stole from the Palo Alto home. Then he confessed and wrote a letter of apology to Jobs’ widow, police said.
“What an idiot,” McFarlin’s former boss, Ross Rankin, told the San Jose Mercury News on Tuesday, the morning after news first broke of the burglary at one of Silicon Valley’s most famous residences. “There’s certain things you don’t do, and burglary is one of them, but burglarizing an icon like that, that just puts yourself pretty much in the deep hole.”
A 36-page police report shows in intricate detail how McFarlin allegedly burglarized Jobs’ Waverley Street home between 5 p.m. July 17 and 8 a.m. the next day. He was arrested on Aug. 2 and is in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
His attorney at the public defender’s office did not return calls requesting comment. Police, though, said McFarlin told investigators he was down on his luck and had been sleeping in his car before breaking in to a few San Francisco homes and the Jobs residence.
The report says that on that July night, McFarlin pulled up to the curb on Waverley and hopped a six-foot fence by climbing the scaffolding around the house after construction crews renovating the home had gone home for the day. He walked into an open garage workshop, found a key and walked through the house door, the report said.
“Kariem McFarlin explained he crept around the house because he was scared someone might be home,” the report said.
Eventually, he figured out he was alone. Then, investigators wrote, he saw a letter addressed to Jobs and realized whose home he was standing in.
“The best we can tell is it was totally random,” prosecutor Tom Flattery said.
The home, which was unoccupied because it was under renovation, has been a mecca for tourists to Silicon Valley, especially since Jobs’ death in October after a long battle with cancer.
Laurene Powell Jobs, his widow, was staying nearby. Her spokeswoman declined comment.
Although the burglary was discovered on the morning of July 18, it wasn’t reported to police until two days later.
A manifest of items stolen at the Jobs residence gives a rare peek into the world of the notoriously reclusive entrepreneur who helped create one of the most successful and secretive companies in history.
Also listed as stolen: an iMac and a Mac Mini specially installed for Jobs by an Apple engineer; a small “demo-sized” Macbook, three iPads, three iPods, two iPhones, and an Apple TV device. McFarlin allegedly gave one of the iPads to his daughter and another one to a friend.
In Jobs’ swiped black leather wallet were his California driver’s license, an Apple corporate American Express card, a Titanium Black American Express card and a Bank of America Visa credit card. A key to a Mercedes at the home was taken, but not the car.
Also missing from the house were goods bought from the Tiffany’s at Stanford Shopping Center during the 2001 and 2002 holiday seasons: a $33,000 platinum and aquamarine-beads necklace, a platinum diamond necklace with 247 round brilliant diamonds weighing 5 karats, with nine carved aquamarine drops, valued at $28,500, and a $2,950 pair of earrings.
More stolen goods: Monster Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, a Ninja Blender, a Sodastream soda maker, SanDisk media storage device, and Louis Roederer Cristal champagne.
Police said McFarlin told them he used luggage found in the house to cart the items away, tossing them over the fence onto cushions he took from the patio furniture.
Later, he searched the Internet for instructions on selling jewelry and shipped some of the stolen goods to a jeweler in Pennsylvania who has since agreed to send back the items.
Palo Alto investigated with the Santa Clara County high technology REACT task force. McFarlin was arraigned on Aug. 7 and is due in court Aug. 20.
The Jobs heist was part of a 63 percent rise in burglaries so far in Palo Alto this year, as San Francisco Bay Area cities see double-digit rises in home burglaries. Authorities have tied the trend to budget cuts that left police forces withered and rumors in criminal circles of unlocked doors.
McFarlin played defensive back for San Jose State University in 1998 and earned a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology in 2004, the university said.
Lifelong friend Joe Tenorio said McFarlin grew up in the projects — records show his birth certificate was issued in New York — but was helped by a loving mother and step-father.
“I’d call him a nerd in high school,” Tenorio said. “He didn’t hang out with the cliques that were robbing people.”