It has been well-documented that crime statistics in New York city decreased significantly during the 1990s. The reasons for this are manifold, but commentators and analysts have pointed to various causes, including the ‘get tough’ policies of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, with more arrests leading to a corresponding drop in crime levels, changing demographics (that saw fewer youths living in the city), increased police numbers and economic boom times (a “carrot that encourages people to remain on the straight and narrow”, according to a report by Hope Corman and Naci Mocan called Carrots, Sticks and Broken Windows, that was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research).
But recently grand larceny numbers have risen again, up 13 percent in 2013 from the previous year.
And one of the biggest reasons for this? Apple products.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has shared data from the New York Police Department, which explains the theft of iPhones and iPads has had a notable effect on the statistics. Apple products were involved in 8465 thefts in the city, translating into 18 percent of all grand larcenies.
According to WSJ, it appears that a large proportion of the crimes were opportunistic. “Many of the thefts happen on public transportation, where most people are buried in their devices and aren’t paying attention to their surroundings,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired New York Police Department detective. “It’s easy pickings,” he said.
And this follows the trend of the last few years.
Giuliani’s successor Michael Bloomberg (himself now replaced in the position by Bill de Blasio, who took over as mayor on New Year’s Day) released data in 2012 showing that the theft of Apple products had already begun to have a big impact on larceny figures back then, with the police department recording 3890 more Apple product thefts than for the same period in 2011, according to MacRumors.com. To compare, “in 2002, there were 25 grand larcenies of Apple products,” reports WSJ.
The take home message from all of this? With nationwide grand larceny rates decreasing (“a nearly 13 percent drop in the crime comparing 2002 and 2012 figures compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation”, according to WSJ) and New York major crime figures heading in the same direction (“for those same years, which bookend Bloomberg’s administration, murders decreased about 43 percent, robberies [other than grand larcenies] dropped about 30 percent and vehicular thefts decreased about 72 percent”), the advice for would be visitors to the US: stick to New York in order to keep yourselves safe from murder and mayhem, but take extra special care of your iDevices, especially when you’re out and about…