California: Laptop Owner Resists Theft in Berkeley, Assailant Wins, Flees
Although the larceny of the majority of stolen laptops are invariably non-violent, economic desperation is beginning to reveal an increasing propensity of some criminals to resort to the use of force, when stealing a laptop. Fortunately, we have NOT seen lethal weapons being used to steal a smart-phone, laptop, tablet or MP3 player.
Yet, in Berkeley, CA on December 7, at roughly 1855 hours, a woman was sitting in a coffee-shop working on her laptop when a man attempted to steal it from her by force. The incident occurred in the 2300 block of College Avenue, which is next to the University of California, Berkeley campus.
COMMENT: I urge all targets of crime NOT to resist the efforts of an assailant, largely because you never know when a lethal weapon is going to be used to successfully complete the crime.
That being said, the victim in the Berkeley case, of unknown age, entered into an altercation with her assailant, which resulted in both of them struggling for the laptop on the floor of the establishment.
In the end, the man prevailed, and was successful in fleeing the shop with the woman's laptop. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries. The assailant was a black male in his 20s.
It is noteworthy to point out that the El Cerrito Police Department reported two thefts of laptops from customers at a Starbucks franchise at the El Cerrito Plaza on the same day as the Berkeley incident. Another occurred on October 30.
Considering that laptop theft is one of the most frequently occurring crimes on a global level, the following advice is suggested:
1. Consider insuring your laptop and peripherals. Domestic and international policies are available through http://www.safeware.com;
2. If working on a laptop in a coffee-shop, select a table as FAR from the entrance as possible;
3. Those working on laptops in public places should also be observant of those around them, particularly of persons who seem to focused on what they are doing;
4. NEVER leave your laptop, tablet, smart-phone or media devices UNATTENDED;
5. Avoid the use of computer bags, particularly those on rollers; they're a dead-giveaway as what is inside of them; and
6. Always carry your laptop on an innocuous backpack. On this note, avoid carrying your laptop in an tote-bag, whereby other people can visibly see the laptop. This practice a good way of damaging your laptop if it inadvertently slides out of the tote.
I retired from the US State Department in April 2006, after a career as a special agent, Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO), director of training, chief investigator of the Cyprus Missing Persons Program, director of security of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and as a senior adviser in the Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance.
My book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD was published in May 2008.
A complete update of STAYING SAFE ABROAD 2015, will be release during early 2015 for the iPad, Kindle and Nook and other e-readers.
I am a former Federal Firearms Dealer (US), a certified NRA pistol instructor and a certified NRA Range Safety Officer.
My career has also included 15 years as an international security consultant; for ten years I served as the security adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank.
I additionally, served six years in the Marines, which included combat service in Vietnam.
I am available for operational assignments, lecturing opportunities and in providing security solutions anywhere in the world.