OffBeat

Hide your iThings: Apple devices top charts among NYC pickpockets

Above: A woman uses her iPhone while waiting in a New York City subway station.

Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones and 14.1 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2013, demonstrating strong demand for its gadgets among consumers.

Turns out thieves like them, too.

In 2013, Apple devices accounted for more than 18 percent of all grand larcenies (major thefts) in New York City, according to the Wall Street Journal. They’re so popular among pickpockets that the New York Police Department specifically tracks Apple device thefts, recording more than 8,000 stolen iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other Apple gadgets last year.

Many of the device thefts happen on the subway, when people are focused on their devices instead of their surroundings, said retired NYPD detective Joseph Giacalone. “It’s easy pickings,” he told the Journal.

Electronic device thefts are fueling New York’s stubbornly high rate of grand larcenies, which has steadily increased each year since 2010, resisting nationwide trends. Compared to 2012, grand larceny arrests increased 13 percent last year.

But it’s often tough to make arrests following a reported grand larceny, because victims aren’t willing to put in the time required to catch the thieves, said Giacalone. About 20 percent of grand larceny complaints resulted in arrests, according to NYPD data from Nov. 2013. If they’re caught, the culprits often plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid jail time.

The NYPD encourages Apple users to active the “Find my iPhone” feature, which can track the location of Apple devices. Those who have updated their devices to iOS 7 can also use the “Activation Lock” feature, which prevents reactivation of remotely wiped devices unless you can enter the original owner’s Apple ID and password.

But the best protection, of course, is common sense. Next time you’re on the train, eyelids drooping, put your phone away — it might just prevent Apple device theft #8,001.

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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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