BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Police in Berkeley have returned to placing undercover officers in a number of cafes citywide in response to an ongoing series of laptop thefts and robberies.

Police offered a number of tips to people to avoid having their laptops stolen:

  • Do not leave your valuables unattended (especially electronic devices)
  • Consider using a locking device to secure your property to the table
  • Back up your work to either an external hard drive (not kept with the computer) or to the cloud
  • Purchase tracking software so that you can be reunited with your device if it becomes stolen
  • If tracking software came with your device, remember to activate it and safeguard your logon and password
  • Make note of your electronic devices’ serial numbers
  • If you see something suspicious, say something immediately (call 9-1-1)
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Police also recommended staying aware of one’s surroundings.

Surveillance video of snatch-and-go robberies show how quickly it can happen. Police say they are averaging about two laptop thefts per week. Undercover officers will be conduct sting operations at cafes across town.

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“You’re talking about something that’s [worth] $1,000. Would you leave $1,000 sitting out on the table for somebody else to watch?” asked Berkeley Police Officer Byron White.

UC Berkeley students KPIX 5 spoke acknowledged the dangers or having a valuable laptop out in a public space.

“It’s kind of a sobering reality that such an expensive and valuable machine is so easily stolen,” said UC Berkeley student Josh Perkins.

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“Yeah, I mean, it could potentially be career ending if you have none of the materials backed up and you’re about to submit your thesis and you lose it. Yeah, that’s a big deal,” said UC student Sophia Cowles.