updated 06:35 pm EST, Fri November 26, 2010
Details attempted mugging, chase and more
In some cities, at least, high-tech should be kept on the down-low, says one iPhone blogger. In a harrowing tale of attempted robbery, Chicago Now online magazine columnist Scott Kleinberg details in his latest iPhone blog post his successful disruption of an attempted iPhone theft -- in this case, the iPhone in question was his own.
Kleinberg was using his iPhone 4 at a bus stop on Lower Michigan Avenue in the downtown district when a young male attempted to snatch the iPhone away from him, exposing a host of accomplices and leading to a mile-long foot chase through the streets of Chicago the day before Thanksgiving.
Kleinberg starts off his tale by noting that the downtown area had been hit with a rash of mobile-gadget thefts -- including incidents that happened to two co-workers -- and listing the advice points he had given his wife (but ignored himself), such as not using the iPhone in a visible way in the crime-ridden area.
As with many such setups, the would-be thief was not alone, using pals to identify the potential victim and distract them by asking for a bus timetable or other directions that would be answered more easily using the smartphone. When the victim takes out his phone to look up the requested information, the robber makes a grab and then takes off running, using their youth and agility to outrun victims who might chase after them.
Kleinberg, being a dog owner, was able to dodge the grab in an automatic gesture of raising the iPhone quickly over his head, pass it to his other hand and pocket it, thus retaining it. Despite being -- by his own description -- out of shape, Kleinberg gave chase to the would-be thieves for about a mile, using his iPhone to contact police and update them with his location and descriptions of the robbers. Although he ultimately lost them, the police were able to apprehend two of the accomplices a short time later thanks to his detailed report, which may allow them to ultimately round-up the rest of the ring.
The story is told in an involving first-person narrative style, with Kleinberg giving a running commentary as he recounts the events unfolding.
"By now I'm at Wabash past the Trump Tower," Kleinberg writes. "I probably ran a mile, including a pretty steep flight of stairs. My chest hurts. It's 33 degrees out. I'm out of shape. I think I hurt my lungs. I'm completely out of breath. I tell the dispatcher that if there's an officer near the McDonald's or Trump Tower that I could use the help. She thanks me and says she'll call for an officer ... the last thing she hears before I hang up is 'there they are!'"
Kleinberg has promised follow-ups to his story in future postings, and says he's now "on a mission" to help find the remaining thieves.