updated 4/28/2005 7:25:47 AM ET 2005-04-28T11:25:47

The iPod craze has spawned a crime wave in city subways.

Police told the city transportation board on Wednesday that 50 iPods have been reported stolen on the subways so far this year, compared to none during the same period last year. Cell phone thefts have more than doubled to 165 from 82 last year.

The thefts fueled a 20 percent spike in robberies last month on the subway, officials said. Most thieves are believed to keep the devices, which can retail for $100 to $500.

“It usually has to do with young people taking them from young people,” said police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Thieves spot people with the telltale white earphones, then snatch the devices and run out train doors. On Web sites, iPod devotees suggest keeping the devices concealed and switching to cheaper-looking earphones.

An average of nine to 10 serious crimes occur daily on the city’s subway system, officials said. Kelly called that number “remarkably low” and attributed it to extra police patrols.

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