The NYPD had a good news-bad news perspective on the latest subway crime figures: Felonies are pretty much down, but assault and robberies, namely iPod- and cellphone-related ones, are up. iPod robberies were 82 during the January 1 - April 14 period in 2004, and in 2005, there have been 215 in the same period; cellphone robberies are up 29%. In fact, the Transit Authority will be issuing safety announcements about taking care of one's wellbeing by watching one's personal possession habits, with lines like "Earphones are a giveaway. Protect your device." Gothamist wonders if there will be a "Don't play loud, annoying games on your cellphone - someone might take it from you and smash it." Transit Chief Michael Scagnelli notes that it's a phenomenon and told reporters, "I would never tell someone to listen to music or not listen. I'm asking riders to be aware of their surroundings so they won't get pickpocketed." Newsday called Apple for a comment, but they never got back.
The NY Times's Sewell Chan follows up the Campbell Robertson story about subway riders not being that fazed by subway by the robberies (the one that got a Fader employee fired) noting that none of the iPod-toting commuters would stop using them on the subway and that during the early 90s, gold chain snatchings were the big subway crime of the day. There's also this great quote from MIT's Henry Jenkins about why iPods and other gadgets, like cellphones, are targetted:
The participation gap creates techno-envy, where the kids who are locked out of participation in the culture covet those tools and devices that are considered essential to being a young person.
Gothamist also appreciated the almost-thankless quote from former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, who said he rode a filthy subway and being in a dirty subway might where it seems like no one is in charge makes crime seem more possible. Thanks, Brats. The Times also has a Technology article about "combating" the thefts, suggesting insurance and paying more attention.
The best suggestions we've heard is discretion, getting different earphones, and not totally zoning out. Any more? And Gothamist on iPod robberies.