Thief Steals iPod that Wounded Vet Uses to Control His Prosthetic Arm

By Ann Rowland

Wounded warrior U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberly, 27, went out to his pickup truck last week to find the driver’s side window smashed in and something extremely valuable missing.  Eberle, who lives in San Antonio, lost both his legs and a portion of his right arm when he was hit by an IED in Afghanistan.  Thieves stole the iPod Touch that helps control his prosthetic right hand.

Eberle left the iPod Touch in the center console of his pickup truck and when he woke up Friday to discover that his pickup truck had been broken into, he quickly realized that the irreplaceable IPod Touch had been taken.  It is irreplaceable because of an application on the iPod called “i-limb”.  The” i-limb” app works with his prosthetic hand to achieve movements that would not be possible otherwise due to the significant nerve damage in his arm.

The application is programmed to work with a specific prosthetic limb and vice versa.  Without this specific iPod Touch, Eberle will have to replace both the iPod touch and the prosthetic hand.  While the iPod Touch can be replaced for $240, the hand will cost $75,000 to replace.  For Eberle, the loss is more than monetary.  It takes time to get used to a new prosthetic and to learn to achieve the movements that help this wounded warrior in his daily life.

The stolen iPod Touch has the logo “Touch Bionics” on the back.  A spokesperson for the San Antonio Police Department is asking that the thief return the device to Sgt. Eberle.  Police Sgt. Javier Salazar, a told the San Antonio Express-News “I believe that we owe guys like this a lot more than this sort of treatment, as a society,” Salazar said. “We would ask that whoever did this recognize the gravity of their crime and do the right thing.”

Eberle was injured in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.  When an IED exploded, Eberle put his hands over his face to protect it and he ended up losing both legs and right hand.  His wife, Ashley, was expecting their first child at the time of the accident and their daughter was born at the same hospital where Sgt. Eberle was recuperating.  In fact, Eberle cut the umbilical cord with his right hand.


  • Michael Swaney

    Michael is an Army veteran and the Director of Content for Bright Mountain Media LLC

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