“iJacking” Strong-arm laptop robberies

Mb Step1 Hero 060110Spotted on the Raw Feed – There’s likely a bit of sensationalism that will happen because of these stories and events regarding laptop/Powerbook theft, but it doesn’t hurt to be a bit (more) aware when you’re out and about doing work at a cafe. Once and awhile I work out of one of the places that got hit by the stabbing laptop bandit – it’s on Mission and 22nd, it’s bad enough to get your laptop stolen, but stabbed too? That’s messed up.

Laptop thieves descend upon wireless cafes. Grab-and-run robbers find pricey computers easy to resell by Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer -“A San Francisco finance manager stopped in at a Mission District cafe and was tapping on his laptop as he enjoyed his coffee just before noon on a Thursday. Suddenly, he was under siege. “I looked up, and I saw this guy leaning into me as if he was asking a question,” he said. “I leaned forward, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone fiddling with the computer cord. I tried to stand up, and as I stepped back, he stabbed me in the chest. Police say normally quiet cafes are becoming hunting grounds for laptop bandits.”Link.


iJacked. Strong-arm robberies of laptop computers are on the increase by Charles Russo – San Francisco Bay Guardian. GRAND THEFT LAPTOP “It is obviously a trend,” Lt. John Loftos of the SFPD’s Robbery Division told the Guardian. “We are seeing crimes that we have never seen before, based on a cultural change. The crime trend is following the wireless trend.”Link.

Some solutions – Laptop locks, chain your stuff so someone can’t take off with it, and there’s also this application, but I’m not sure it will stop anything. My Powerbook is laser etched, so it’s not valuable as a resale – no one would want this on their laptop but me. Lastly, encrypt / backup, a lot, but you’re doing that anyway right?

4 Comments so far

  1. aaron (unregistered) on April 9th, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    Check out Undercover by Orbicule. It may not deter the theft by itself, but it is a fantastic, well thought out recovery tool.


  2. joann Landers (unregistered) on April 9th, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

    I remembered this story from the Mercury News Mar. 28, 2006

    Laptop thefts growing
    (By Therese Poletti and Sean Webby)

    The March 15 theft in Palo Alto of a laptop containing sensitive data on 196,000 current and former Hewlett-Packard employees appears to be part of a growing local problem with laptop theft, much of it targeting rental cars parked near restaurants popular with business executives.

    It’s become such a problem around Silicon Valley that a dozen law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, the FBI and U.S. Customs Department, met last week to discuss the issue.

    “They know all these guys are flying in and going in to schmooze their clients and leaving their stuff in the car,” said Dan Ryan, a spokesman for the Palo Alto Police Department. He said the thieves seem to target restaurants along El Camino Real, popular among business patrons for lunches or dinners, such as the Sundance Mining Company and the Fish Market. Those restaurants are also a few minutes from HP’s corporate headquarters on Hanover Street.

    Since January 2005, Ryan said, Palo Alto police have fielded 65 reports of stolen laptops. Ryan said Campbell police recently caught some robbers from the East Bay stealing laptops out of three cars outside the Elephant Bar on Hamilton Avenue. Campbell police were not immediately available for comment.

  3. cd (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 3:05 am

    good god – this is confirmation of my worst fear.

    i’ve been using a laptop lock since my friend’s computer got jacked at the UCSF library just days before final exams started. they certainly won’t stop someone from stabbing you, i suppose (what the fuck is up with that?), but, in the really every-blogger-for-herself way, your computer just needs to look less grabbable than your neighbors.

    then again, that kind of thinking makes me feel kind of bad.

    take my phone, take my ipod. please, don’t take my laptop . . . .

  4. Minimi (unregistered) on April 13th, 2006 @ 8:58 am

    Totally agree that things are getting messed up when one gets accosted while waiting for MUNIserable. But the police arrested the Oakland gang bangers according to SFGate.com article April 13, 2006. Based on a tip. Wow. Amazing.


    San Francisco police arrested a man they say is responsible for at least three laptop robberies in the city’s Western Addition in the past two weeks, part of a recent rash of crimes targeting the high-priced portable computers.
    Jeremy Benjamin, 21, of Oakland, was arrested and charged Wednesday with three counts of armed robbery and weapons possession and was being held in San Francisco county jail on $285,000 bail.
    Acting on information from informants, officers from the San Francisco police Gang Task Force and Northern District station conducted a surveillance operation in the Western Addition and arrested Benjamin at 7 a.m., police said.
    Police say victims were carrying laptop bags and were approached on the street and held up, as opposed to the more prevalent robberies targeting victims who have their machines open while they are using them in Internet cafes.
    In addition to arresting Benjamin, police arrested two San Francisco men they described as associates of Benjamin. Calvin Johnson, 19, and Victor Guy, 21, were arrested and booked on weapons violations.
    “These are street robberies by a crew that appears to have been exclusively in the Northern District,” said Lt. John Loftus of the San Francisco police robbery detail. “They were targeting people waiting for Muni, pedestrians walking around in the area — these things are very valuable and it’s a quick turnover.”

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