Research Group Suggests iPods Are To Blame For Increase In Crime

A research group in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the spike in violent crime, particularly robberies, in the past two years correlates with the rising popularity of the iPod line of products. They don’t really back this up with rigorous statistical analysis, they just say it. So now you know.

Their reasoning:

First, the recent increase in robbery has been disproportionately greater than increases in other economically motivated crimes, such as theft and burglary.

Second, the recent increase in robbery has been greatest among juvenile offenders, among whom iPods “are highly valued as a status symbol.”

Third, robberies increased in particular from 2004 to 2006, the very period when iPods entered the mass market and became ubiquitous among consumers.

In addition, they suggest that iPod owners are particularly susceptible to robberies because iPods offer no built-in theft protection, don’t require subscriptions to use, are prized as status items (as opposed to just being resold), and leave the user isolated and unaware of his surroundings.

They argue that past crime waves have been triggered by other high-status items like sneakers and jackets, but that the iPod is unique for how widespread a phenomenon it is.

But what we wonder is: did the iPhone caused the subprime meltdown?

“Are iPods to Blame for Rising Crime?” [New York Times]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. allthatsevil says:

    What’s the difference between robbery, theft, and burglary? Is it just a matter of monetary differences?

  2. Don Roberto says:

    UGH.. you can find so many things to which you can correlate the rise in crime. How about itunes use? I bet the criminals are angry that society is forced to use itunes.

    Remember folk, correlation is not causation.

  3. @allthatsevil

    There is a substantial difference betweent the three under the law. I’m sure wikipedia will have more, but robbery is usually armed (increasing the risk of bloodshed), theft is pretty general and burglary implies premeditation. Robbery is violent but theft and burglary are not necessarily.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Curse you, Consumerist!


    I was going to blame the subprime meltdown on iPods.


  5. faust1200 says:

    Yeah I saw a special on this topic on Dateline a few months ago. “To catch an i-pod thief” (Yes I’m serious) The only interesting thing that I garnered was that Apple while making no formal announcements has filed patents for some technology that would force users to authenticate their devices before they could charge them thereby locking the units to deter theft.

  6. goodasgold says:

    My daughter and I were told the same- ipods are causing an increase in theft- after she was robbed of hers. The guy that stole it was charged with strong-arm theft (apparently, stealing ipods was his preference), which sadly lead to another crime against my daughter. She was assaulted by a group of his friends for IDing him to the police.

  7. Pasketti says:

    The specifics vary from place to place, but in general:

    Theft is taking someone’s property without their permission.

    Robbery is theft by force or intimidation.

    Burglary involves breaking in to a building or car to commit a felony, not necessarily theft.

  8. ice cream causes murder. Correlative studies are fun.

  9. Televiper says:

    Why do they have to speculate. Would there be a stack of police reports in a computer somewhere that specifically state “iPod Stolen”? It really looks like they started with a the premise and then started collecting the evidence. Why haven’t cell phones caused a sharp increase in crime? Cell phone users walk around distracted and out of touch. If portable music devices make for theft victims have Discmen etc been cause for the same concern?

  10. Kaz says:

    Damn Apple for making products people want! Why can’t they be more like Microsoft???

    Maybe the increase in crime is related to the Zune? Maybe people who bought a Zune now have to resort to stealing an iPod?

  11. withoutnations says:

    I seem to recall another recent study that suggested that iPod theft has in fact dropped because the music player is so ubiquitous.

    (Assuming of course that iPod thefts were ever truly on the rise)

  12. Christovir says:

    As mentioned by The Consumerist and other commenters, the supporting stats are flaccid. A definitive answer would be nigh impossible to reach, but for starters, you could factor out ipod thefts and see where that leaves the crime rate. Asking thieves what their motives are for different items could help. Also, if there were any similar areas where ipods were unavailable, that would be useful for comparison.

    Their assertion is certainly possible, it just needs better support. The white earphones are very distinctive, whereas black ones could be connected to any old piece of crap. You also get all their music collection, which you don’t with stealing a walkman or CD player.

  13. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    In other news, studies* show that people will say stupid-ass stuff just to get their names in the paper.

    *and by studies, I mean anectodal information.

  14. mastercha says:

    I blame criminals, I’m just crazy like that

  15. …did the iPhone caused the subprime meltdown?

    I don’t know. Did it cause it?

  16. satoru says:

    Just as a basic primer burglary is when you enter a place you’re not supposed to be in and steal something. Thus if I break into a home and take something that’s burglary

    Robbery implies that some physical threat was used to steal. So if I break into a home and the homeowner is there and I use a gun to force him to hand over his wallet, that’s robbery.

    Theft is kind of a general term used when you take something with the intent of keeping it. If you carelessly left your iPod on a park bench and I take it, that’s theft. Or if you take stuff from your co-workers locker.

    The pdf report does make one good point in that, it might be worth while to more accurately track what types of items are stolen in robberies. Since there is a definite statistical increase in robberies, identifying any trends would be useful for law enforcement.

  17. ElizabethD says:

    This reminds me of Jack White’s lyrics to the Stripes’ song “Effect and Cause.”

    “… you just can’t take the effect
    And make it the cause.”

  18. hi says:

    quote: iPods “are highly valued as a status symbol”

    By who?

    Seriously… this is about as good as the bs story about high gas prices making people lose weight.

  19. Beerad says:

    I’ll vote for correlation but no causation. Although I was amused by some columnist’s description a few years ago that the iPod earbuds came in a nice shade of “mug-me white”.

  20. SaraAB87 says:

    I have heard that if you walk around with white earbuds you might as well basically consider yourself a target of theives. If your walking around with an Ipod on then you should probably switch headphones and keep the ipod hidden so people think your walking around listening to something else, then your less likely to be a victim of this theft. Yes I know white earbuds are like… SO hot and trendy but I think people can learn to forgo that if it means their personal safety.

    Ipods have a high resell value and can be resold just about anywhere, they are small and easy to hide making them easy to steal and cover up.

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    @satoru: “If you carelessly left your iPod on a park bench and I take it, that’s theft.” I thought that the legal term for that was, Finder’s Keepers.

    @mbills2: Who view them as status symbols? Kids who don’t have them.

  22. bbbici says:

    It’d be cool to make a fake iPod with explosives in the body and earpieces. Goad someone into stealing it, and when they turn it on it blows off their hand and liquifies their brain.

  23. ahwannabe says:

    @bbbici: Sounds like an Al Jaffe cartoon from Mad.

  24. bbbici says:

    More like Spy vs Spy.

  25. goodguy812 says:

    i totally agree with this article! i mean, when i had a walkman, everything was cool. but when when i listened to my ipod, i started stabbing random people. i should sue apple.

  26. thalia says:

    Psh. This is why you buy a pair of black or coloured headphones when you buy your mp3 player. The white headphones are a dead giveaway that you’re carting around an iPod!

  27. asherchang says:

    @Don Roberto: true, but you gotta admit,
    their reasoning does not have any flaws (although it does seem to be
    almost circumstantial). And there were highly publicized stories of
    youths commiting violent crimes in order to steal iPods.