Police in Los Angeles are reporting higher numbers of thefts involving victims distracted by iPods or cell phones.
“People are walking around the street in public with their head down texting and thinking about a conversation, rather than up looking around them, and it’s given criminals an opportunity to snatch these cell phones and iPods out of people’s hands in broad daylight,” Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department told local news station ABC 7.
While we’ve reported frequently on iPhone snatch-n-grabs involving people on the phone, this is the second US city authority recently to warn against using mobile devices while, uh, mobile in public.
Chicago’s transport authority reported an uptick in e-thefts warned riders that using iDevices on public transport makes them easy pickings for thieves who want those gadgets. The CTA is developing a poster to warn riders that electronic devices are often targeted by thieves, who single out people sitting or standing near the door so they can snatch an iPod or other device, then make a quick escape. The CTA won’t be the first to launch the iWarning: in 2007, authorities in Brixton, South London launched an awareness campaign with posters declaring, “They want your iPod!”
The LAPD’s Vernon estimates that there are almost 400 robberies and grand thefts in downtown LA, 70 of them related to cell phones and iPods. While that’s only about 18 percent, it’s still high enough that police want to warn against the dangers of digital distractions.
It does seem a drag that you can’t use your devices as they were intended — when you’re mobile. That said, I’m pretty careful about making mobile calls on the street and which neighborhoods are “safe” enough to shut out with music from an iPod.