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Diatribe: The Mugger Who Wouldn’t Steal The Cell Phone.


FlipPhoneMuggerSome folks are too frightened to walk down the street alone.  I’m generally not afraid of people unless or until they give me a reason to feel concerned.  I’ve learned that the best way for me to sidestep confrontation is to avoid eye contact and, honestly, I think I’m approached by more unwanted strangers in shopping malls when over-eager sales people try to clean my glasses, wash my jewelry or give me a sample of a mysterious lotion that will soften my skin than I am on the street.  But yesterday morning I got the creeps at an ATM.

I had stopped at a small branch of my bank situated in the corner of a supermarket parking lot.  In front of the bank building there are four parking spaces and the ATM is on the corner of the building.  I’ve used the machine before as it is on my way to the office and not terribly inconvenient so I was familiar with the area.  I approached the machine and began my transaction, a simple deposit, when a man in a trench coat suddenly appeared from around the corner of the building.  He was wearing a stocking cap and had a scarf pulled up over his face so that only his eyes were visible.  With his hands in his pockets he turned the corner and startled me.  My first thought was “this could be a mugger!” but it turned out that he, too, was a customer on his way to work who had parked at the supermarket and walked to the bank, bundled up in a warm coat in the cold morning air.  He, I suppose, was just as surprised to see me standing at the ATM as I was by his arrival.

Last Saturday, New York City resident Kevin Cook was actually mugged at gunpoint in Central park, but when the thief stole his cell phone, he was so upset to find that it was an old flip phone that he gave it back to Cook.

“Once he saw my phone, he looked at it like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ and gave it back to me.” – NYC Mugging Victim, Kevin Cook

Apparently, this happens all the time.  The Federal Communications Commission has reported that as many as forty percent of robberies in big American cities involve cell phones but most thieves reject all but Apple iPhones.  Stealing and reselling iPhones in the United States and abroad is thought to be a thirty-billion-dollar-per-year underground business, provoking leaders like Bill deBlasio, mayor-elect of New York City, to press Smartphone makers to create kill switches that will make cell phones unusable after they’re stolen.

I didn’t take my cell phone with me to the ATM yesterday morning … I had left it safely locked inside my car … but I did have my wallet with all my credit cards in my pocket.  My car keys might have led him to my Smartphone and, had he found it, he would have kept it.

Do you get nervous at ATMs?  Did you know that your Smartphone might be targeted?


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Copyright © 2014


From → Diatribes

  1. I think your cell would be safer on you then in your car – I think car theft is much more common then muggings.

    As for Bill deBlasio, he needs to do some research. For over a year Apple has had a “kill switch” it’s an app called Find iPhone and it will work on all Apple devices. It will also help you find it if you’ve misplaced it or lost it as long as it’s on.


  2. I do get apprehensive and watch for others when using an ATM. I try to avoid multiple transactions, but when I do them it is in broad daylight. The guy that startled you should have realized how frightening his appearance would have been. I am glad it was a false alarm.


  3. I usually have my cellphone in my pocket because I refuse to carry a purse anymore. But I don’t have a smart phone, so robbers would leave me alone too!


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