Crooks don't just want your iPods, they'll take your digital cameras, mobile phones, credit cards and identities too.

A report from UK insurers the Royal & Sun Alliance describes a change in the pattern of burglary.

It appears thieves are turning to small, high value items, and ignoring traditional targets such as TVs and stereos. Over £1 billion-worth of property is stolen each year, with credit card burglaries tripling since 1992.

iPods a "natural target"

Three quarters of people in the UK now have mobile phones and nearly one in five have a digital camera, the insurers say.

"Latest figures show an increase in the value of property stolen per household: the proportion of burglaries resulting in over £500 worth of items being stolen has increased from 45 per cent in 1999 to 53 per cent in 2003," the company observed.

Playstations, Xboxes and console games are high on the target list for burglars today, as are credit cards and other information to help commit identity theft. The latter is described as "the fastest growing crime in Britain".

Security counts

David Pitt, head of insurance for Royal & Sun's More Th>n division said: "There is a proliferation of small but high value gadgets in the home now, which means a thief can easily grab lots of small items, taking more value then they used to steal."

He warned: "Households without security measures in place are nearly six times more likely to be victims of burglary than those with security."

iPod theft steals identity

Such items are the "natural target" of street criminals, too, reports the Chicago Tribune. Muggers are beginning to understand the significance of the iPod's tell-tale white earphones.

"No one wants to admit how much we've become personally, emotionally invested in these devices. The iPod as ID. The idea that someone might snatch that away is too much to endure," that report concludes.