I Was Almost iMugged

Picture this. Yesterday I hop off my train and head to the exit. I’m minding my own business when from my left some “strung out, really thin, 20 something punk male” grabs my headset cord and pulls it towards him. All he gets is my Sennhiser MX500 (or two thirds of them as the jack was still plugged into my iPod). I stare at him in disbelief for a second, then I start to move towards him to ask him WTF? That’s when he took off and disappeared into the rush hour crowd.

In short, I was almost iMugged.

The basic definition of being iMugged is simple: Someone jumps you to steal your iPod. How do they know that you have an iPod? Their odds are good that they’d score an iPod seeing that 7 of 10 MP3 players sold on planet earth are iPods. Of course the fact that they all have white headsets are a dead giveaway as well. I presume that they’re easy to flip for drug money and they’re likely easy to steal as they are often accessible. The New York Times talked about this in a widely quoted article three years ago, so this is not new by any means.

So, why didn’t this “punk” get my iPod?

I have always kept my iPod out of sight so that I don’t advertise that I have one. That and the fact that I use a Incase Leather case that has the belt clip upside down. That way you have to pull down to remove the case from your belt (as the natural tendency is to pull up to remove something from your belt). I think between the two these things, it kept my iPod from going anywhere. So the only real damage was to my headsets which were destroyed. One quick trip to a stereo shop at lunch and I was back in business.

So how do you avoid being an iMugging victim? Here’s what the cop who took my incident report told me:

Never let it out of your sight: Keep your iPod close to you, don’t leave it unattended, don’t leave it exposed in your car when you’re not in it, etc.

Change your headsets: Ignoring the fact that the Apple earbuds aren’t that good from an audio perspective, the white earbuds that come with iPods have become well-known indicators that the headphone cord snaking into your pocket or bag is connected to an iPod. I’m now using a set of black Sony’s and I’m hoping that reduces my risk. Plus the audio quality is superior to the Apple earbuds. (For the record, the ones that the “punk” trashed were a pair of Sennhiser MX500’s. But they were still white)

Keep it out of sight: Things are harder to steal if the scumbag thieves can’t see it.

Be aware of what’s around you: Don Cherry tells kids on Hockey Night In Canada to “put their heads on a swivel” whenever they play hockey to avoid getting hurt. That means that they should always be looking around to see what’s around them. That’s a good idea when you’re using your iPod (considering that you’re likely not hearing any outside noise while using your iPod, it may be vital). In fact, given the times we live in, it may just be a good idea period.

Oh yeah, to the punk who tried to steal my iPod: If you’re reading this, the cops have you on tape as the transit system has a network of cameras installed in all of the train stations. They have a decent shot of your face from several angles. If I were you, I’d watch your back as the cops are looking for you. So bad boy, what you gonna do when they come for you?

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