The appeal of Apple's iPod has attracted less-savoury characters.

According to London's Evening Standard the iPod has become the target of criminals. It reports a series of muggings in which iPod owners – identified by their white earphones – are being targeted.

The Evening Standard carries the story of Saqib Sabir who was recently mugged. The criminals targeted Saqib for his mobile phone, and then spotted his iPod. "They obviously knew what it was, because they immediately threw my phone away to take it. I was gutted. I use my iPod all the time, and I'd had it only a few weeks," he said.

The BBC planned to carry this story on the London evening news yesterday but told Macworld they spiked after after failing to find examples of people being mugged specifically for iPods.

The Met has warned owners to keep their iPods hidden whenever possible and recommends noting the serial number.

Macworld recommends that readers wishing to avoid being relieved of their iPods follow the guidelines for safeguarding mobile phones given on The Met Web site.

These guidelines suggest property marking it with your postcode and door number to help police identify stolen ones, and advise against attracting attention when carrying or using it in the street, avoid parking in isolated or dark areas, and leaving it in an unattended car.

An alternative, in the recent bout of cold weather, would be to wear earmuffs to conceal the tell-tale white earbuds.