The teenager snatched the iPod from a woman in the street in a working-class area of northern Paris without realising that a group of police officers were nearby.
When they gave chase he ran off and jumped over a wall in an attempt to escape them, according to police sources.
But the drop was bigger than he expected and the young man broke both his legs in the fall.
The police caught up with him and he was taken to hospital, where he was charged.
Apple's latest iPhone, the 5S, is to go on sale in France and 10 other countries on Friday.