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Laptop thieves targeting SF hot spots

Marc Perton

This story sounds a little like an urban legend -- sort of like those tales of crooks finding laptops in car trunks via Bluetooth that surface every couple of months -- but the San Fran Chronicle insists it's true: according to the paper, laptop thieves are targeting WiFi hot spots such as coffee shops. The thugs aren't just snatching the computers of anyone foolish enough to take a biobreak and leave their ThinkPad or PowerBook unattended -- in some cases, they've actually gone so far as to grab laptops from people while they're actually using them, and stab them if they resist. (ok, the Chron's only identified one stabbing victim -- but do you really need more than one to creep you out?) According to the Chron, San Fran's coffee shops have seen a spike in laptop thefts, and city cops expect to see as many as 70 laptops stolen by the end of the year, up from just 18 in the early WiFi days of 2004. Of course, once SF is completely WiFi'd, laptop users will be able to spread out just about everywhere, which could lead to more thefts -- or make things harder for thieves, as users ditch coffee shops to work in more secure locations like bank vaults and police stations. Better get that latte brewing, sarge!

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