An explosion in iPod use may have added to the national increase in violent crime, says the Washington-based Urban Institute. The gadgets’ high value, visibility, and versatility make them “criminogenic”–or crime-creating. Their power to distract users can give thieves an advantage. Researchers John Roman and Aaron Chalfin say that robberies–thefts that use or threaten violence–were up 3.9 percent in 2005 and 6.8 percent in 2006, while theft overall declined by 6 percent and auto theft fell 5 percent over the two-year span.
The iPod’s popularity among young people may make it a special target for juvenile offenders; youth robbery arrests jumped 11 percent in 2005 and 21 percent in 2006. Adult robbery arrests rose only 1 percent in 2005 and 5 percent the following year. In the first three months of 2005, major felonies rose 18 percent on New York City’s subways; but if iPod and cell phone thefts are excluded, felonies declined by 3 percent. Thus, the Metropolitan Transit Authority now warns riders that “Earphones are a giveaway. Protect your device.”