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iPhone 5 lost in bar was a hoax, say police

Reports circulating earlier this week that a prototype Apple iPhone 5 had been lost in a San Francisco bar have been labelled a hoax by local police.

In a repeat of an incident last year concerning the Cupertino company's iPhone 4 handset, a careless Apple employee was alleged to have lost the device while drinking in a bar this weekend.

But police in the area say the story - along with reports that Apple employees had been escorted by police to a building to which they'd tracked the misplaced iPhone 5 - is a work of fiction.

The story, 'exclusively' broken by Cnet, had it that the iDevice had changed hands on US small ads site Craigslist for the paltry sum of $200 (around £125). The leaked iPhone 4 prototype that surfaced last year was flogged to gadget blog Gizmodo for a whopping $5,000.

American tech news site PC World quotes San Francisco police department spokesperson Albie Esparza as saying: "We do not have any knowledge of an Apple iPhone investigation. I am trying to locate a report associated with that case and so far have been unsuccessful in doing so."

Apple is notoriously secretive about upcoming products, and it seems unlikely that another accident-prone engineer would have risked the wrath of newly installed CEO Tim Cook by leaving the top-secret device in a public place.

No firm launch date has yet been announced for the device, but recent rumours have pegged it for a 5th October release.