Last Christmas, online iPod sales broke records. Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that the music player is contributing to an unexpected rise in robberies. Robberies of iPods, top-of-the-line cellphones, and other gear are up 34 percent so far this year, accounting for about 1,700 of the city’s 8,000 total robberies. Many cases involve simple strong-arm street robberies in which students walking to school or commuters waiting for buses are forced to give up their devices, which can be worth $500 or more. Victims and suspects tend to be young, with most between 18 and 25. “No one used to report when their lunch money got taken, but if a child comes home without their cellphone or iPod, the family may report it,” Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said. “iPods and their clones are becoming a highly desirable item among criminals. They are easy to sell.”
Authorities began to see a sharp rise in electronics thefts on and around local campuses during the holiday season. The Los Angeles Unified School District recorded 141 iPod thefts over the last school year, compared with 41 the year before. The actual numbers are higher because many students don’t report the crimes.