Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 23, 2012

Man pleads 'no contest' to burglarizing Steve Jobs' home

Kariem McFarlin admits to stealing iPads, iPods, jewelry and champagne from Jobs' Palo Alto home

by Pierre Bienaime

The Alameda man arrested in August on charges of burglarizing the home of Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs pleaded "no contest" Wednesday morning to a string of home burglaries, including the one involving Jobs' Palo Alto home.

Kariem McFarlin, 35, did not dispute his involvement in a four-county burglary spree that in addition to Jobs' home included four homes in San Francisco, two in Marin County and one in Alameda County, according to Deputy District Attorney Thomas Flattery. McFarlin also admitted that he kept "hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property from those burglaries" at his home and storage locker in Alameda. His cache of stolen items included computers, jewelry, furniture and a solid silver bar.

McFarlin could face up to seven years and eight months in prison, Flattery said in the announcement. This includes the time McFarlin has already served since his arrest on Aug. 2.

Moreover, the sentence could end up being half of what the judge imposes if he gets credit for good behavior. McFarlin's attorney, James Kellenberger, noted that his client "is still eligible as a matter of law to 50 percent credit."

"Sometimes it gets taken away or added depending on how inmates perform in custody," Flattery added.

McFarlin was convicted on eight counts of residential burglary and one count of possession of stolen property, all felonies. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2013.

"This case can serve as a warning to families who may leave their homes for an extended period either for vacation or while the home is under construction," Flattery said in a statement Wednesday. "An empty, unprotected house is like low-hanging fruit to thieves. Lock doors. Use alarms. Take precautions."

Police believe the Jobs burglary occurred between the night of July 17 and the morning of July 18. The Waverley Street home was unoccupied and was undergoing renovation at that time. McFarlin was charged with making off with a haul of electronic items, including three iPods, three iPads and two iMac computers, a Tiffany necklace, a pair of earrings, a bottle of Cristal Champagne, a Ninja Blender, a Sodastream Soda Maker and a wallet containing Steve Jobs' driver's license, credit cards and other personal items.

McFarlin was arrested after an investigation by Palo Alto police and the regional Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force, which includes high-tech specialists from various law-enforcement organizations. The agents tracked down McFarlin by following the activity on his iTunes account and tracking down his IP address.

"When the officers executed the search warrant in Palo Alto they recovered evidence that led to the burglaries," Flattery said. McFarlin admitted that he had burglarized the Jobs home and others shortly after his arrest.

The first of McFarlin's burglaries was in March 2011. Before then he had "no criminal history," Kellenberger said.

"He's a college graduate; he received a football scholarship to San Jose State University. He had a fairly constant work history for about 15 years until he lost his job."

"It's the story of a guy who was doing OK, who lost his job and ended up homeless. And that's not to be used as an excuse, it's just an explanation" Kellenberger said.

Editorial Intern Pierre Bienaime can be emailed at pbienaime@paweekly.com. Gennady Sheyner contributed to this story.

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