The heist took place Jan. 9 when Emmanuel Etienne and Jarred Thomas were sent to pick up a skid of iPhones from another shipping company, Rojay World Freight of Valley Stream.
After collecting the shipment, the two truckers and [alleged accomplice Duane] Carlos went to a nearby Staples store and bought $100 worth of printer paper, police said.
They then removed the original factory shrink-wrap binding the cardboard cartons containing the cell phones and sliced holes in the bottom of the cartons, emptying the individual iPhone boxes, cops said.
After filling the cartons with paper, they replaced the shrink-wrap and dropped off the pallet at the Cathay Pacific Airways hanger at JFK Airport for a flight to Hong Kong, cops said.
[Nassau Police Detective Lt. John] Azzata said an airline worker in Hong Kong noticed the shrink-wrap looked amiss and alerted Hong Kong police, who discovered the theft and contacted Port Authority police in Queens.
Before they were caught, the two truckers had raked in some $80,000 by selling the iPhones on Craigslist. They had spent the money on sneakers and even a car. By the time police pieced together the crime, the truckers were nabbed with $23,000 in cash. Apparently, the men must have been feeling the heat, as they were about to move to Florida.
Said their boss to police: "It's funny you should be asking about them. They just resigned."
The Unofficial Apple Weblog writer Michael Rose made an interesting observation on the matter:
I think we've all learned something today ... first, if you're going to replace packaged iPhones with something, rock beats paper. Second, 300 iPhones in a crate going to Hong Kong, where they aren't officially on sale? Maybe those 30% unlock estimates aren't so wacky after all.