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Laptop Robbers Stake Out S.F. CafesLaptop Robbers Stake Out S.F. Cafes

Grab-and-run laptop thefts are on the rise in one major city, and police say the crooks are stalking Internet cafes.

Gregg Keizer

April 10, 2006

1 Min Read

Internet cafs are becoming dangerous places for notebook PC owners, San Francisco police told a city newspaper Saturday.

In a San Francisco Chronicle story, city police noted that laptop robberies had jumped from 18 during 2004 to 48 in 2005, and are currently on pace to crack 70 this year. Cafs offering wireless access are the new hunting ground for robbers, police told the Chronicle. "To the criminal element, this is a valuable piece of equipment that they can quite easily cash in on," the paper quoted Inspector Robert Lynch of the San Francisco police robbery detail as saying. "Where else do you have a thousand-dollar item sitting on a table in a coffee shop?" Robbers sell the stolen computers on the street or on the Internet for as little as $200 or $300, police said. Last month, a 40-year-old man was stabbed during a robbery in a Mission District coffee shop when two men -- one roughly 15, the other about 20 -- fled with his $2,500 Apple PowerBook. The man, who asked that his name not be used, recovered. "You walk by any Starbucks and you see people with a laptop, it's so tempting for the crooks," added Inspector Lynch. "They walk in, right on top of the person, and the person has all their attention on the laptop. They snatch it right out from underneath their fingertips."

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