Remember when we were talking about how so few were lining up to buy Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPad Mini? Well, those days may be over. On Friday morning, the New York Post reported 3,600 iPad Minis were stolen from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Not-so-good fellas
"The crooks struck shortly before midnight on Monday and used one of the airport's own forklifts to load two pallets of the tablet computers into a truck, according to law enforcement sources," the Post's Philip Messing and Josh Margolin wrote.

Apparently the job resembled the 1978 heist of $5 million in cash and $875,000 in precious jewels dramatized in the film GoodFellas. Only this time, the thieves were targeting tablets. They got away with two of five pallets, leaving three after an airport worker returning from dinner confronted the crooks, the Post reported.

Of course, we're only talking about 3,600 tablets at a time when even the most pessimistic of analysts figures on 32 million units sold industrywide during the holiday quarter, after selling 15.4 million iPads in last year's holiday quarter.

A drop in the digital bucket
Actually, that may be lowballing it. Apple sold 3 million iPads during the Mini's first weekend on sale, or roughly 1,785 tablets per minute. Over a 92-day quarter, that would amount to more than 100 million tabs sold. Unreasonable, you say? Of course it is -- opening weekend always brings out more buyers. But even if you slow the pace by a third, you still end up with 30 million tabs sold.

And that's in a quarter in which (NASDAQ:AMZN) is heavily discounting the Kindle Fire and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has poured a big chunk of its ad budget into marketing the new Surface.

Which brings us back to the heist. Apple can't be happy to be out 3,600 Minis and the $1.5 million in lost sales they represent. But in a quarter in which the Mac maker could sell 100 times that, two pallets won't mean much. If anything, the theft confirms something we've suspected for a while now: Among crooks and consumers alike, Apple's iCandy devices are as sought after as precious jewels.

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