Apple UK's wave of iPod advertising may be making the product a 'must-have' accessory for street criminals. It's also possible that UK journalists, disappointed at Apple's recent news that its much-anticipated iPod mini won't ship until July, now also have Apple in their sights – as was the case with the recent battery bad news stories.
Apple's active courting of the mass-media press appears to have generated an unfortunate reaction, as build 'em up to knock 'em down journalists have begun a simultaneous campaign that claims iPods have become hot property to street criminals.
Reports appeared this morning in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, and The Evening Standard, all of which warn that the "conspicuous white headphones of the popular iPod are a giveaway to muggers that wearers are carrying the music player".
Baskerville hounded The one reported instance of someone who had his iPod nicked features in most of the reports. 22-year old student Roland Baskerville was mugged near his home.
"I was walking down the road near to my home when a man who was walking the other way pointed at my headphones."
The mugger asked if the student was using an iPod. When he replied that he was, the mugger pulled a knife. "Well, hand it over then", he said. Baskerville blamed the distinctive white iPod headphones for transforming him into a street-crime target.
The Telegraph claims iPod Web sites have received "numerous reports" claiming users have been targeted by such criminals. Macworld has even received phone calls in recent days, including from the BBC and ITV asking if we are aware of any such incidents. We are not. In the end the BBC dropped its planned report as it could find no one to back-up the story.
These reports echo a similar story published last month in London's Evening Standard, which also warned that iPods are becoming a popular target for street criminals. It reported a series of muggings targeting iPod owners.
Common sense All the current reports cite a spokesman from the West Midlands Police Safer Streets anti-robbery initiative, who told The Telegraph: "People need to use common sense, have their iPods security marked, and keep them inside their jackets. They shouldn't carry them in their hands, because a lot of robberies like these are snatches."
The copper also advises music fans use "different coloured headphones" to disguise the high-value consumer gadget. Common-sense advice from many police street-crime Web sites suggests commuters should avoid flashing high-value items on busy streets.
Urban myth The press delights in carrying stories of so-called Rolex robberies, where wearers of the expensive Swiss watches are targeted by criminal gangs.
The Telegraph reckons "some fans of the gadget would rather be robbed than use less trendy headphones".
The Sun reckons police are advising iPod owners to "ditch the trademark white headphones".
Macworld editor-in-chief Simon Jary dismissed the media frenzy as mostly urban myth: "Anything about the iPod is hot right now, and linking it to crime creates the sort of fear that newspapers crave. I'm sure several people have had their iPods stolen, but I doubt whether it's as widespread as all these rather similar news stories suggest. The very fact that they report a lot of Internet babble on iPod mugging proves to me that it is little more than an urban myth."