SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Families waiting for San Francisco‘s cable cars on a recent morning couldn’t help but notice Kenny the Clown, who wore a curly rainbow wig as he twisted brightly colored balloons into animal shapes for visitors, blasting Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” from an iPad at his feet.
Little did the clown know that the tablet doubling as his stereo would turn out to have been stolen from the home of the late Steve Jobs.
“The thing that is embarrassing to me is I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs,” said Kenneth Kahn, 47, a professional entertainer who police say unwittingly received a silver 64GB iPad pilfered from the home of the Apple co-founder last month. “It’s just bizarre.”
Kahn’s friend, Kariem McFarlin, 35, of Alameda was arrested on suspicion of breaking into Jobs’ Palo Alto residence on Aug. 2.
The pair had been planning a vacation to Hawaii, and when their trip fell through, Kahn said McFarlin gave him the iPad in exchange for money he had borrowed.
“He owed me $300 for the plane tickets, so he said he had an Apple computer that he wasn’t using anymore. I said fine, not having any clue what the hell was going on,” Kahn told The Associated Press on Friday.
Kahn, a well-known local street performer who has also made unsuccessful bids to become mayor of Alameda and San Francisco, said he never examined the contents of the device and had no idea where it came from.
It was unclear if Jobs had ever used it.
Kahn said he downloaded Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” the “Pink Panther,” and other tunes for his clowning routine, which includes magic shows and torch juggling on a unicycle.
Kahn said he played pop songs on the iPad for a few days at several San Francisco landmarks and at an Alameda street fair before police came for it. The device has been returned to the family of Jobs, who died last Oct. 5.
Apple investigators identified McFarlin after he used the stolen device to connect to his iTunes account on the Internet, police said. He acknowledged to police that he broke into Jobs’ residence, as well as other homes, and wrote an apology letter to Jobs’ widow, according to a police report.
The unoccupied Palo Alto home was targeted on July 17 because it was under renovation, authorities said. When construction crews left, a burglar hopped a fence and found a spare key, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The newspaper said the thief apparently didn’t realize he was in Jobs’ house until he saw a letter addressed to the Silicon Valley icon.
During the 15-hour overnight heist, Jobs’ wallet and driver’s license were taken as well as iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers, champagne and $60,000 worth of Tiffany Co. jewelry, police said.
Kahn said he met McFarlin when he coached him on a high school basketball team in Alameda more than a decade ago.
“Kariem and I used to talk about ethics all the time, so I thought we were on the same page,” Kahn said. “I guess he just got desperate, and made a terrible decision.”
McFarlin remained jailed on $500,000 bail and was expected to appear in court Monday. If convicted, he could face almost eight years in prison.
Kahn said he has not been questioned in the case. Law enforcement officials did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
The Santa Clara County public defender’s office, which is officially representing McFarlin, did not immediately provide comment. McFarlin has recently hired a private attorney who wants to remain anonymous until Monday’s hearing.
Follow Garance Burke on Twitter at http://twitter.com/garanceburke.
Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com