When I heard Apple had filed an anti-theft patent for electronic devices, I was intrigued. How would it work?

Perhaps the iPhone's multi-touch screen could be synced to just one person's fingerprints (or the fingerprints of five people, if it uses the same model as the iTunes Music Store).

Better still, perhaps it could deliver a nasty electric shock to any thieving so-and-so who tries to swipe your 'Pod (although any electrocution system would presumably be a massive drain on battery life).

Perhaps the multi-touch fingerprinting technology could be linked straight to your local Police station via WiFi. As soon as any little rascal tries to use the phone, the cops will have an ID and a location - sirens would sound almost immediately, and your light-fingered friend would probably drop the swag and leg it.

Guilty as charged

Sadly, Apple's anti-theft patent is rather less satisfying. It just means anyone who nicks your iPod won't be able to charge it up. Isn't this going to cause us a great deal of hassle? Will we still be able to borrow a colleagues charger and top up batteries at work?

And what if the system goes wrong? You'll be faced with a Die Hard-style countdown to fix the thing before its battery dies completely. I'm sure Apple has thought of all of this. It's only a patent application after all. But I can't help feeling that any charge-management technology will add another level of messing about with our gadgets that stop us using them seamlessly.

Not being a crime lord dealing in stolen iPods, I can't say for sure that such a technology would make any difference. I guess selling an iPod that has a maximum life of 18 hours would be a pretty difficult job.

If I were a iPod-toting crime lord, this technology would probably bring me to look for a proper job, and maybe give talks in local schools about staying out of trouble.

On the other hand, if I were a nasty street urchin, jumped-up on jelly beans and eager to impress my 'wrong crowd' friends, this technology would probably make me want to nick iPods all the more. I'd chuck it in the canal, neck a handful of jelly beans, and laugh at the fact that, anti-theft technology or not, the chap I just mugged still just lost £200 worth of kit.