Is Your iPod Emboldening Crooks?

Small, valuable and easy to pawn: the iPod has revolutionized the way we listen to music, but it may also be revolutionizing thieves’ habits, according to an article by the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank.

The researchers claim that not only the device’s size, value and resale-ability lend it to a thief’s wish list. It’s also that a user is particularly vulnerable, oblivious to the world around him because of the music blaring at his ear drums.

But they go farther: is the iPod responsible for an actual increase in theft — and even violent crime? A so-called “iCrime” wave is not out of the realm of possibilities, they argue, as robbery and other crimes have increased during the same time as the iPod’s rise.

Here’s the abstract of their research article:

The recent increase in violent crime defies easy explanation, and many hypotheses have been put forward for debate. In this brief, we propose that the rise in violent offending and the explosion in the sales of iPods and other portable media devices is more than coincidental. We propose that, over the past two years, America may have experienced an iCrime wave.

One criminal “laboratory,” if you will, that the authors drew their research was subways, according to a Washington Post article. Thefts, even violent robberies, have been rising on the rails of America’s biggest city transit networks, it seems.

The Post article also points out that Apple has looked into anti-theft technology. But the reason we as consumers love the iPod is the same reason thieves do — they compactly bring alone our entire music collections.

I would posit that as technology gets smaller and smaller, any device — iPod or not — will be popular with thieves. But as technology develops, it also becomes cheaper, and as that happens, criminals may not be so interested in your iPod, but the next innovation.

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