The great Stanford MacBook heist

From Amber Neely’s “California siblings plead guilty to stealing 800 MacBooks worth $2.3 million” posted Monday on AppleInsider:

A pair of California siblings who stole roughly 800 MacBooks over seven years, totaling over $2.3 million in retail value, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses relating to the crime.

Patricia Castaneda worked in the School of Humanities and Sciences at a private university in Stanford. During her time at the university, she was responsible for ordering MacBooks for its faculty and staff.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, she began stealing and selling MacBooks she ordered for cash in 2009 or 2010. Initially, Castaneda sold them to an individual she met over Facebook.

In 2016, she began giving the MacBooks to her brother, Eric Castaneda, who would transport them to an individual in Folsom, who resold the MacBooks to buyers outside California.

In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total.

My take: Not the biggest Apple heist I’ve seen. In November of 2020, thieves hijacked a truck in England carrying over 48 pallets of Apple products, totaling $6 million in retail value.

Thanks for the tip to friend-of-the-blog Michael Goldfeder, who writes, exaggerating slightly, “Nobody steals Windows-based computers.”

Memo to Amber Neely: We’re familiar with private university you reference.


  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    Must be a typo?
    “ private university in Stanford “
    The university Steve Jobs spoke at is in the city of Palo Alto, isn’t it?

    EDIT: nope, it’s officially located in Stanford, CA. I didn’t know that.

    March 23, 2021
  2. Bart Yee said:
    As one Willie Sutton, bank robber, was often quoted and now paraphrased here:

    “Why do people steal Apple products? Because that is where the money is!”

    March 23, 2021
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. she began stealing and selling MacBooks she ordered for cash in 2009 or 2010.”

    Amazing! The woman had been at it for over a decade. I assume she started out small and just got greedier and more ravenous in her thefts. That’s how insider thieves usually are caught. Still, it makes one wonder about the internal audit controls in place at that school. A red flag on her unit of responsibility should have evolved long ago.

    March 23, 2021
  4. Ken Cheng said:
    This made me laugh. The last sentence from the Stanford Review:

    “In a sign that the problem reaches beyond Stanford, prosecutors alleged in a related case filing on Tuesday that a similar scheme took place at “a public University in Berkeley, California.”

    March 23, 2021
  5. Uninformed employees with no idea that organizations eventually bring in competent auditors & accountants. Inventory time was always full of surprises when I helped out back in the warehouse.

    March 24, 2021

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