According to law-enforcement sources, two people managed to enter the airport territory driving a truck and used one of the airport's own forklifts to load two pallets of the tablet computers into their vehicle.
They had to leave three more pallets behind when their actions were questioned by an airport worker, who had returned from dinner.
Investigators suspect an inside job and are currently questioning airport employees.
The iPads had just arrived from assembly partners in China and were destined for locations around the US.
"Apple is known to be shipping out its first batch of LTE iPad minis this week, so it's possible this shipment was part of that rollout. If so, it's possible that means 3,600 expectant Apple fans are going to be disappointed, but Apple could also very theoretically redirect stock destined for store shelves to make up the difference," TechCrunch said.