The Apple iPod is an easy target for street thieves and school bullies. It's small, valuable, instantly recognisable, and really easy to nick and sell on. That's why it's responsible for the sharp rise in muggings in 2006.

Street robberies climbed 8 per cent during the last 13 weeks of 2006, according to the UK government. And Home Secretary John Reid wants Apple to fight street crime by developing defence technologies in its iPod music players.

Mobile phone manufacturers already maintain close working relationships with the Home Office to combat muggings. Now it's time for Apple to jump into an iPhonebox and change into its blue jeans and black turtleneck superhero costume.

"New technology, lifestyle changes, new commodities and new gadgets mean that the criminals continually move on," Reid on the BBC, observing that iPods and satellite navigation systems are becoming targets for such crimes.

One tactic would be security measures to make sure only the proper owner could control the MP3 player. And, as any iPod nano owner will testify, there's no better gadget for collecting fingerprints than a shiny black digital music player.