(CBS) - When CNET reported that yet another iPhone prototype was lost in the wild, we nearly spit out our Coco Puffs onto our keyboards.
A source tipped off CNET's Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh that an iPhone prototype was lost in July at Cava 22, a tequila lounge in San Francisco's Mission District (that apparently serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche and a mean drink).
Speculation that the phone was sold on Craigslist for $200 has not been confirmed by any of the parties involved.
"Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood," according to CNET's source. Even after searching the house of a man in his 20s, the lost iPhone was not recovered.
If true, the incident is an embarrassment for Apple.
In the height of iPhone 4 anticipation in March 2010, Apple software engineer Gray Powell was drinking with friends to celebrate his birthday in Redwood City, Calif. After leaving the bar, fellow imbibers noticed an iPhone left behind by Powell. Two men, who did not know Powell, took the mysterious phone and allegedly tried to contact Apple to return the item to no avail.
The tech blog Gizmodo eventually purchased the prototype of the iPhone 4 for $5,000. After confirming it was the real Apple product, they dissected the device and published their findings.
Every tech journalist under the sun is looking for evidence of the lost iPhone 5. If the phone's finders were smart, they'd send it back to Apple or bury it 10-feet deep at Golden Gate Park.
Lest we forget last year's cautionary tale: Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, the two men who found and sold the iPhone 4 to editors at Gizmodo were charged with a misdemeanor.
California law states, "One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft."
So was it a marketing scam? We doubt it. Apple doesn't have a history of cheap viral marketing tricks, nor would they need to resort to a publicity stunt.
Aye dios mio. We'll take a shot of that tequila now.