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)

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.

“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.

“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.

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