Police catch iPads 'flying' into China

Our friends at the technology blog Engadget have our favorite story of the day about smugglers taking to the air to get iPads and iPhones into China.

Taking advantage of the close geography, the smugglers used a slingshot to run a line from Hong Kong across a river and into Shenzhen, avoiding the need to cross a customs line.

They sent iPads and iPhones across the border using a zip line at night, until discovered by police. Four people were arrested and $46,000 worth of Apple (AAPL) products recovered.

“i”-Object smuggling into China has become a sizable business, where iPads can earn a smuggler HK$1,000 in profit for each one sold. In May, marine police seized Apple products hidden aboard a speedboat and in December, police nabbed 14 people for smuggling.

Customs police became suspicious when “fashionable women” breezed through the luggage counter unchecked, China Daily said. In some cases, they had iPhones taped to their bodies.

If this sounds extreme for an electronic gadget, remember that China is so gaga over the company’s products they even invented ┬áthe fake Apple store.

China is now 13% of Apple’s global business — accounting for $3.8 billion in revenue last quarter alone — so this kind of piracy is no longer a nuisance but a big deal for one of the biggest corporate entities on earth.

Watch for signs that AAPL is working more closely with local authorities to crack down harder.

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