More than $100,000 worth of iPhone 5 units stolen in Japan on eve of launch

More than $100,000 worth of iPhone 5 units stolen in Japan on eve of launch

People have been waiting for days for the honor of being among the first to get their hands on the iPhone 5, but thieves in Japan have stolen the title by breaking into carrier stores before the launch and making off with over $100,000 worth of Apple’s latest smartphone.

The Wall Street Journal reports (via Tech in Asia) that both Softbank and KDDI’s au were the victims of burglaries just hours before the iPhone 5 was set to go on sale. Three separate incidents across Osaka resulted in a total of 191 phones being lifted. Police estimated the largest heist, which saw 116 units nabbed from Softbank, was worth an estimated 7.45 million yen ($95,000).

It’s not clear whether the incidents were connected, though proximity and timing makes it possible that all three burglaries were committed by the same perpetrators.

The high value of Apple devices make them frequent targets of theft. Apple has had difficulty with smash-and-grab burglaries that take advantage of the glass doors in many of its retail stores. One recent high-profile incident involved a BMW SUV crashing through a storefront in Temecula, California.

Friday morning’s burglaries do slightly mar the launch of Apple’s new gadget, but expected record sales should more than make up for the unfortunate incidents. Apple pre-sold more than 2 million iPhone 5 units in the first 24 hours of availability, and the company’s own estimates suggest new orders won’t be shipped for 3-4 weeks.

In nine countries around the world, legitimate owners of the iPhone 5 will begin purchasing the iPhone 5 on Friday. The Next Web obtained two units for testing the new HD Voice feature on the Telstra network in Australia. Call quality was clearly better with the devices, though it could still stand for improvement.

Teardown experts iFixit also made their way out to Australia to get early access to the iPhone 5. After breaking down the handset, they found it to be substantially more repairable than previous versions of the iPhone.

Image credit: TNW

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