Secret iPhone prototype left at a bar -- again

An iPhone prototype turned up at a bar in San Francisco. What are the chances that iPhone prototypes would go missing twice in two years?

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    Missing iPhone prototype: An Apple employee walks into a bar...
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An Apple engineer accidentally left an iPhone prototype at a bar in Silicon Valley. No, this isn't a republished story from 2010. This is a bizarre moment of tech deja vu almost exactly one year after an Apple employee left a different iPhone prototype at a bar in Silicon Valley.

Apple security hustled to recover this second missing prototype, according to CNET, who uncovered the story.

Whereas last year's incident included checkbook journalism, accusations of criminal misconduct, and a police investigation of the tech blog Gizmodo, "this year's lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path," reports CNET. "It was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for $200."

The iPhone 5 prototype (or whatever the upcoming handset will be called) landed in San Francisco's Cava 22, a tequila bar. A couple days after it went missing, Apple reps reached out to the San Francisco police, according to CNET's anonymous source.

The company electronically tracked down the experimental phone to a home in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood. With an Apple rep in tow, the police approached the house and interviewed a resident in his twenties. The man "acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing," but insisted he knew nothing about the missing prototype. He agreed to let police search his home. The officers found nothing.

"Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone."

The report did not mention specifics about the iPhone prototype, such as the design or operating system. We'll need to wait for the official announcement, possibly later this month.

For more tech news, follow Chris on Twitter @venturenaut and sign up for the Monitor's weekly BizTech newsletter, which ships every Wednesday.

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