LAPD Managed To Hack An iPhone 5s While FBI Tripped Over Themselves With San Bernardino iPhone 5c

Apple would have you believe that it's iPhone devices are locked down tighter than Fort Knox, that its encryption and security schemes are so well implemented that even its own engineers would have trouble hacking a handset. But is that really the case? In a murder investigation involving an actor from The Shield, the Los Angeles Police Department made quick work of hacking an iPhone 5s model that belonged to the victim.

Ironically enough, murder suspect Michael Jace is best known for playing a member of the LAPD in the popular FX drama The Shield. He stands accused of killing his wife April Jace on May 19, 2014. Early in the investigation, an Apple technician helped authorities extract information from the iPhone 5s, but investigators wanted to bypass the passcode entirely. They were able to do that with the help of who LAPD Detective Connie Zych called a "forensic cellphone expert." According to the search warrant, the expert was able to "override the locked iPhone function."

Apple iPhone 5s

The override took place at the same time the FBI was struggling to hack into an iPhone 5c model that once belonged to Syed Farook, one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino shootings. Authorities dropped the ball from the start by resetting Farook's iCloud password before first backing up the phone's contents. By way of a court order, the FBI then tried forcing Apple to help hack into the iPhone. Before the legal battle could come to a conclusion (which would have set a legal precedent), the FBI dropped its case, saying it paid a third-party to break into the iPhone.

Investigators believe April's iPhone 5s handset contained text messages showing that she and Michael argued not long before he allegedly shot and killed her. A month after the murder, a judge ordered an Apple technician to help police pluck data from the handset. Then in January, an investigator gave it a shot, but was only able to access data on the SIM card. Authorities had run into a brick wall at that point.

The iPhone was thought to be dead as it wouldn't even turn on, but in March, investigators learned of a forensic cellphone expert could bypass the security features. It worked out, and in April authorities were able to view the phone's contents.

It's not clear what method the forensic cellphone expert used, but it's yet another relatively high profile incident of authorities not needing Apple's help in bypassing the security of an iPhone.