by Janet Meyer Apr 11, 2006

On April 7th Darcy Richardson wrote about the uses of iPod growing along with sales. There is one particular use that she probably didn’t have in mind when she wrote that article: iPods are increasingly becoming a tool for crime.

Most people walking around wearing iPod headphones are probably listening to music, but remember that these devices can store a ton of other information as well. Some criminals make good use of the data collection possibilities. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a San Francisco man has been arrested on 53 felony counts related to stealing hundreds of credit card numbers. It’s going to be hard for him to deny. Some of the data was found on his stolen iPod.

This is a case where technological advances helped a criminal. Once he stole an iPod, it was easy for him to gather and store the information he needed for identity theft. However, it’s also a case where the same technology will now be used against him, providing clear evidence of the magnitude of his crime.

This is not the only crime related to iPod. Both New York and London have reported an increase in crime. iPods are being stolen regularly on city streets and subways. The Washington Post reports that thieves are also targeting them in homes and cars. One man was stabbed at the zoo before the assailant robbed him of his digital music player.

When you lose an iPod, the dollar value extends not just to the cost of the iPod, but also to the cost of any music you haven’t backed up. Then there’s the emotional factor. Users put a lot of time into choosing and downloading their songs and often spend a lot of time listening to them. They might also have other information on them, personal information. People who lose their iPods often feel as though a major piece of their lives have been stolen.

Keep in mind a few commonsense ideas if you use your iPod in public. iPod users can be identified by their headphones, making them easy marks. When listening to an iPod, users tend to focus on their music and tune out the world. Some use it specifically to maintain privacy. This makes them less aware of their surroundings, and easier targets.

If you want to protect yourself from iPod theft, try using different headphones. iPod seem to be targeted more than other portable music devices, so it helps if nobody knows which player you’re using. While you’re at it, don’t clip your iPod on your belt where everybody can see it and somebody can easily snatch it.

When leaving it in your car, be aware that thieves will be interested. Lock your iPod in your trunk so nobody can see it. The same goes for any public place. Don’t leave your iPod unattended.

You might actually want to consider tuning out your iPod when you’re on the streets or in other public places. Paying attention to your environment is the best way to stay safe. It’s difficult to pay attention when you’re in the middle of a really good song.

iPods allow you to take your music everywhere. This doesn’t mean you have to listen to it everywhere. Pay attention to what is going on around you. It’s better to have some moments in your life without the music than to lose it entirely.





  • Janet, nice article.  I’m nearly always seen with my iPod on me, so much so that if I bump into a friend walking down the street and they’ve noticed I have no iPod, they question me about it.  I take it virtually everywhere with me.

    If I know I’m going into a rough area along my travels though, I always leave it at home.

    My cousin was jumped on late last year walking down the streets of South East London.  The two guys demanded that he hand over his Nano.  He thankfully flipped, pushed one of them and ran a mile (quite literally).  What gave it away though was his head phones.  Everyone knows that brilliant-white headphones must mean an iPod of some sort. 

    It’s a shame that we live in such a crime filled world but I guess it’s something we’ll just have to put up with.

    When will they introduce iPod’s with some sort of alarm attatched?

    My cousin’s Nano was not harmed by the way.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Apr 11, 2006 Posts: 104
  • I read recently that theft on New York city subways rose for the first time a couple of years ago after declining for many years in a row. One of the major contributors that rise was iPod theft. Not only that, most iPod theft was not done by traditional criminals; it was done by opportunists- regular people who saw somebody with an iPod not paying attention and slipping it away. A lot of the theft was also envy-theft; that is, your friends stealing the iPod from you when you weren’t paying attention. The New York police actually issued an advisory for all subway passengers to not use white headphones, if possible.

    Devanshu Mehta had this to say on Apr 11, 2006 Posts: 108
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