A friend of mine got her throat sliced in a daytime iPod mugging a year and a half ago. Even the police were amazed at the violent nature of the attack. Fortunately, the cut didn't go too deep and she is fine except for the scar and possibly some lingering post-traumatic-stress symptoms.
Her tale is indicative of a wider trend. A new study (PDF) entitled "Is there an iCrime Wave?" concludes that the mainstream use of iPods and other gadgets has led to a rise in such street crime.
Not only are the white iPod earbuds easy to spot, but iPod users are often looking down at the devices, making those people easy targets. The high price tag of iPods and the fact that they are easy to resell gives even more motivation to would-be thieves. This is the perfect-storm scenario for a snatch-and-grab on the bus or sidewalk, the study finds. (In Boston and New York, Sidekicks are apparently a popular gadget to steal, according to Metro Boston.)
However, the San Francisco Chronicle pokes some holes in the study, noting that while robberies jumped in 2005 and 2006, increases were higher in small and midsize cities with fewer commuters and congested sidewalks. There was also a jump in 2001, before the iPod became so popular.
Regardless, it's a good idea to keep your eyes open, your ears peeled, and your gadget in your pocket when you are in public.