Folks who use iPods and higher-end mobile phones in public places may believe the devices enable them to be well connected to the world around them, but such technology seems to be giving off a different signal: Look at me, I’m a future crime victim.
As reported in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, researched crime statistics from 2005 – the year that sales of iPods exploded — and found that violent crime increased for the first time in a decade. Case in point: On New York City’s subway system, there was an 18 percent increase in major felonies in the period researched; but when iPod and mobile phone thefts are excluded, crime actually fell by 3 percent.
So how does one get use of their high-tech devices without becoming a crime statistic?
Capt. Paul Chagolla of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said it is important to be alert and know your environment before using such technology; if you are unsure or uncomfortable, keep the device packed away.
Sgt. Mark Clark of the Scottsdale Police Department stressed that wearing earphones or talking on a cell phone while in a public area can distract the user and make them less able to sense potential danger. He also advised looking confident and purposeful when walking.
“It’s good to have cell phones (and) technology around, but recognize they are secondary to your safety,” Chagolla said.
You could say it all boils down to the sage advice of another — yet fictional — law enforcement official.
As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (“Hill Street Blues”) always said, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”