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University of California Police Department, Berkeley
Tuesday October 31st, 2017 :: 01:18 p.m. PDT


Crime Advisory - Laptop Computer Thefts

Laptop Computer Thefts
Laptop computer theft from the immediate presence of the user may be an increasing crime trend.  Laptop computers have long been a sought-after target of thieves, but recently in Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area some laptops have been taken even while the user is seated directly in front of them in a cafĂ©, lobby, patio or other place open to the public.  Some of these thefts have involved physical assault, which elevates the theft to the crime of robbery.
The UC Berkeley Police Department asks you to consider additional precautions when using a laptop computer in a public place.  This might include simple awareness and mindfulness of activity and persons around you, limiting your use of laptop computers in public, and hardware solutions such as a cable lock attached to a fixed object.  It may be wise to ensure your data is regularly backed up and password-protected.  Tracking software is of limited usefulness but consider activating it if your computer has this feature.
Additional tips to help protect your laptop from theft include:
  • Do not keep your laptop in a vehicle or leave it unattended in a place open to the public, even for a single moment.
  • When using your laptop in a public place, attach a cable lock or other lockdown device to secure your laptop to a fixed object.
  • Store your laptop out of sight in a locked drawer, safe or other secure location at home or in your workplace.
  • If you must sleep while you’re studying in the library, sleep on the laptop.
  • Protect your data with an effective password and do not store sensitive or personal information on your laptop.
  • Back up your data regularly, either online or via an external drive.
  • Purchase an insurance policy that includes coverage for the theft or loss of your laptop.
  • Keep a record of your laptop computer’s serial number in a safe place.
  • Apply tamper-resistant tags to the laptop to discourage theft or identify it in case of theft.
  • Engrave unique numbers or images onto the permanent outer surface of the laptop.
To report a laptop theft in progress, call 911 immediately, use a campus “blue light” phone kiosk, or dial (510) 642-3333 to reach UCPD directly from a mobile phone.  To report a completed theft, visit UCPD in the basement of Sproul Hall or call the UCPD non-emergency number: (510) 642-6760.

University of California Police Department, Berkeley
1 Sproul Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 510-642-6760

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