Photo courtesy of I Bike Fresno, via Flickr
Earlier in the month, a carjacking in Florida was averted when the would-be thieves did not know how to drive stick
. They fled the scene on foot. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, two robbers let their would-be victim keep her phone
when they discovered that it wasn't an iPhone
, only a lowly BlackBerry
Bloggers have taken multiple lessons from these stories. Some see this as an opportunity to rehash the criminals-are-so-dumb narrative. Others see these as examples of tech snobbery, or about how beggars can still be choosers. There is, however, another way to look at this: Ordinary people can protect themselves from theft by either using products that are less desirable, or making their stuff seem less desirable--or valuable--than it is.
Read on for some tips and examples.The Art of Disguise
As in the above example, it's clear that muggers want iPhones more than other kinds of smartphones. The reason for this isn't mysterious: iPhones have higher resale values than other kinds of phones. In fact, the iPhone 4 retained its resale value
even after the release of the newer iPhone 4S.
To keep your iPhone from becoming a target, you can try concealing it in a generic-looking protective case. Or you can use this hilarious Android-themed iPhone case
. An even easier approach would be to avoid using the distinctive white earbuds in public. This shouldn't be much of a sacrifice--the Apple earbuds have a bad reputation
anyway.Make 'em Ugly
If disguise or concealment isn't enough, you can always go one step further, and make your belongings look like they've been to hell and back. Take the example of the photographer who, with some strategically-placed masking tape and ink, made his brand-new, high-end camera look like a piece of junk
. The makeover worked: After a mugging, the thief opted to leave the camera in favor of a $20 cell phone. Best of all, the camera still takes great photos.
Along similar lines, there are instructions available for how to turn your shiny, pricey bike into one that looks like a rusted mess
. Once again, the bike will still operate like the finely-tuned machine it secretly still is. It's also worth noting that if you find the thought of a hideous bike or camera to be intolerable, you may want to examine why you want that particular bike or camera (or whatever
) in the first place.Hurt the Resale Value
If you know for a fact that you will own something for the long-haul, it's possible to protect that item from theft by making it harder to sell. To get back to Apple products, if you opt for the free engraving on your iPad or iPod, you'll make the iDevice harder to sell
, and therefore make it more theft-safe. Some even speculate that this is why Apple offers free engraving in the first place--to hurt the secondary market, and then encourage the sale of new gadgets.
Similarly, if you're shopping for a car, and you live in an area where car theft is an issue, you can buy your car in a color that is less desirable to thieves
. Cars that are white, black, or silver are the easiest to resell, and therefore retain the greatest resale value. All other things being equal, your pink or brown BMW will offer less of an incentive for thieves than a silver one.The Decoy
This tactic is less widely applicable, but it's worth sharing nonetheless. If you live in a dicey neighborhood, you might consider carrying around a dummy wallet
. In other words, carry a cheap wallet that is full of low-value currency, expired or fake cards, and absolutely nothing of real value. That way, if you ever have the misfortune to be mugged, you can hand over your dummy wallet and take off unscathed and only out a few dollars.
Have your own tips for avoiding or deterring theft? Please share in the comments.