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MP3 Players

Crave Talk: Robberies rise, escape with your iPod

Robberies in the UK are up 22 per cent, according to a report. The Home Secretary blames it on the expensive consumer electronics we're loaded with. How can you hide your iPod from attackers?

Just a week ago, GameSpot journalist Guy Cocker, who works in the same building as Crave, was mugged ten minutes away from the CNET offices here in central London. His assailants held what felt like a semi-automatic weapon to the back of Cocker's head and told him, "we're taking all your stuff". They then took his Motorola L6 Slvr (iTunes compatible).

Cocker told us, "I chased them -- two of them threw me against a wall and took everything. It's lucky I didn't have my usual stash of gadgets on me -- my iPod, my Archos AV500 or my laptop. Mugging in London is out of control. I had my Motorola L6 grabbed right out of my hand."

The papers this morning would seem to agree with Cocker. "Rise in crime blamed on iPods", yells the front page of London's Metro. "Muggers targeting iPod users", says ITV. This is the reaction to the government's revelation that robberies across the UK have risen by 8 per cent in the last year, from 90,747 to 98,204. The Home Secretary, John Reid, attributes this to the irresistible lure of "young people carrying expensive goods, such as mobile phones and MP3 players". A separate British Crime Survey, however, suggests robbery has risen by 22 per cent, to 311,000.

What can you do to foil the 8.2 per cent rise in people out to steal your iPod? The slow fix is calling for social regeneration to eliminate the state of poverty that motivates people to steal. But if that all sounds a bit communist to you, then here are some suggestions that require very little outlay but could save your iPod from theft.

The paperback method
Cut an iPod-shaped hole in an old paperback book and insert the iPod into the cavity. This method has worked for centuries as a way of hiding valuable items without drawing attention to them. Put the iPod inside the paperback while you're walking through volatile areas and then remove it to listen to when you're back in safe territory. You could also cut a hole for the headphone lead, and run the buds out to your ears. Unfortunately, listening to a paperback novel will probably draw more attention to you than the iPod alone ever would. Anti-mugger rating: 8/10

The Coke can method
Get a Coke can, drink the contents, rinse out the can. Carefully cut the lid section off the can. Superglue a small magnet to the inside of the upper lip of the can so that it's flush with the open top of the can. Place the iPod inside and put the lid on the can. If you've cut the can correctly, the magnet should hold the lid tightly shut. Unless your mugger is exceptionally thirsty, they're unlikely to steal your Coke. Anti-mugger rating: 9/10

The gaffer tape method
This involves gaffer-taping your iPod to your body. If you've ever watched a movie where someone is "fitted for a wire" by the FBI or similar, then you'll know what we're getting at here. This is a two-stage deterrent. Firstly, your mugger will have to commit himself to partially undressing you if they want your iPod. Most muggers will find this distasteful.

The second deterrent takes advantage of the fact that most muggers want to get away quickly. When confronted by an iPod that has been taped to your chest by 15 loops of tightly wound gaffer tape he is likely to abandon you for easier pickings. Anti-mugger rating: 7/10

The Christopher Walken method
Pulp Fiction fans will remember Christopher Walken's speech to the child of a man killed in Vietnam. His father had asked Walken's character to look after his watch when the two were captured and held in a Vietnamese prison camp. Wanting to keep the watch safe from the guards, "he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide somethin'". Anti-mugger rating: 10/10

If you've got any of your own tips on avoiding iPod crime, let us know -- leave a comment below. -CS

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the percentage figure for the rise in crime rates. regrets the error.