ThugsMug app designed to nab criminals, collect evidence

Developer Gene West was the victim of a violent crime. “Reflecting back, I wish I could have captured a picture of them the moment I jumped up from the crash” he writes on his website, so West set out to create an app for iOS that would aid individuals in protecting themselves. The result is the universal app ThugsMug (not all features are supported on all devices).

For optimum use of ThugsMug, you’d need to have your device running the app and probably be carrying it out in the open. This is also ThugsMug’s inherent problem. Lately, in Chicago anyway, walking around with your iPhone in hand makes you more likely to become a target, and, since I doubt you’d have time to dig in your purse if you run into trouble, you’ll need to determine if using ThugsMug makes sense in your area. For me, the additional risk wouldn’t be prudent, but that shouldn’t diminish that ThugsMug does offer some useful features.

After you install the app, you’ll want to take the time to input your emergency contacts. You can set the app to automatically make a call upon activation. The app comes programmed with 911, but I changed it to a normal cell number for my test. Users can also set the app to automatically send an email to an emergency contact (there’s only space for one address, so choose wisely). This email will contain a pre-written message from you, along with your current latitude/longitude coordinates. You can set the app to take a photo (and opt to turn the flash on or off) upon activation, and this will be attached to the email, providing evidence even if your phone is destroyed. The app offers retake settings, but even when opting for the fastest — 10 seconds — ThugsMug only took one image for me.

Although I find all of these features worthwhile, ThugsMug is somewhat ill-conceived. I think it’s imperative that the app continually take and send images in order to get something usable — I know if I were in a tense situation, my aim wouldn’t be spot-on. If you have calling enabled, your phone app will take over for ThugsMug and you’ll have to switch back to ThugsMug in order to have access to the “Threat Averted” button, which sends an “Everything’s OK” email to your contact. You’ll also need to switch back for the app to continue to take photos. At times, I found that switching between the phone and ThugsMug caused the app to stop capturing information entirely. This isn’t ideal, considering the duress you’ll be under when using ThugsMug.

ThugsMug has its problems, but it also provides a service that could protect you — if you feel secure enough to use it.

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