More than 3,000 iPad Mini units stolen from NY airport, suspect arrested (Updated)

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While Apple fans around the world may be waiting in dreadful lines for their iPad Mini tablets, a few New York thieves have managed to snag $1.5 million worth of the 7.9-inch slates.

About 3,600 iPad Minis were taken from a cargo building at John F. Kennedy Airport on Monday night, reports The New York Post. A group of thieves entered the building at 11 p.m. and loaded pallets filled with the recently released mini slate into a tractor- trailer. The crooks narrowly escaped a security guard, according to the report, who approached them as they drove away. Authorities told the Post that the thieves stole two pallets of iPad Minis in total, using a forklift to load them into the tractor-trailer. They left three remaining pallets in the airport, and investigators suspect that it could have been an inside job. Authorities have proceeded to question airport workers, administering polygraph tests to three employees.

The crooks entered Building 261 to retrieve the iPads from the side of the structure that faces a street and has less security than the other side. Sources believe that someone let them into the area and then let them out after stealing the tablets. The batch of iPad Minis had just landed from China, and a company called Cargo Airport Services had planned to ship them to various locations throughout the United States. The report did not specify which edition of Apple’s iPad Mini had been stolen, as the tablet comes in three storage capacities and two color options. The storage variants include 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, and users can purchase the device in either White & Silver or Black & Slate.

To no surprise, Apple’s iPad Mini has seen a widely successful launch thus far. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s decision to announce the device in October rather than September alongside its iPhone 5 only enhanced fan anticipation. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a note to investors that the iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad could push Apple to ship 23 million total iPads this quarter. Apple sold more than three million iPad Mini and iPad 4 devices within their first three days on the market. 

Updated 11/19/2012 4:36 p.m.: 

Authorities have arrested a man that is believed to be connected to the theft of 1.9 billion iPad Mini devices last week. Just as authorities had originally suspected, an insider has reportedly worked with the crooks to snatch Apple’s 7.9-inch tablets.

The New York Post reported that airport worker Renel Rene Richardson has been arrested, according to court papers that were revealed on Friday. Federal agents were able to trace the heist to Richardson because he allegedly made suspicious inquiries to his co-workers about the iPad Mini shipment. He also asked where the forklifts might be found, according to the court papers.

Richardson allegedly helped two other accomplices in the heist at the Cargo Air Services building and acted as a lookout. After the FBI arrested Richardson, he was taken to Long Island with Port Authority detective to search for the truck containing the iPad Minis. It is unclear whether or not the iPads have been discovered.