PSA – Stop Laptop Snatchers!

WRITERS BEWARE! There is a rash of laptop raids going on right now. Small groups of unarmed thieves are bursting into coffee shops and snatching 1-3 laptops then dashing out again. They use the element of surprise and make their escapes in rented Gig or Zip cars. The perpetrators are typically teenagers. Male and female. If you are a writer or someone who uses your laptop in a public place, here are some guidelines for protection:

  1. BE ALERT for for groups of 2-3 teens looking in windows of, or gathering in doorways of coffeeshops. Watch their eyes – they shift from side to side, scanning the room. They do NOT look relaxed and social or work-focused like most people entering coffee shops.
  2. If you see this happening, CLOSE YOUR LAPTOP. If you require a password to open it, this will slow them down from accessing your information. (Be sure you are backing up to the cloud so you don’t lose work.) CLUTCH ONTO IT or put it out of sight.
  3. TAKE OUT YOUR CAMERA if you feel safe doing so, and aim it at the group. If they see several cameras on them, they may leave.
  4. SIGNAL other writers to be on alert with a sound (think of groups of meerkats or other prey animals)—a whistle, a loud cough, a word or phrase like “Heads up” or “Watch out” or “Hey.” Listen for signals from other writers.
  5. ENGAGE. If you are close to a doorway and see a group forming, a friendly hello can go a long way in prevention. Remember these are teens who might be about to make a bad choices, and it takes a village to say “we don’t put up with this, kids.” Relax and say “Hi, What’s up?” Say something embarrassing like “Hey, don’t I know your mom?” Or, “Cool hoodie, dude! Love the camo!” Say something loud that draws attention to them, so if something does happen, you have more witnesses, and  can describe them. Sometimes baristas, if they are not busy, will all go out and talk to these groups. It works.

Also keep your eyes out for idling cars parked on sidewalks with open doors. Alert the staff if you see this, tell them to call the police. Coffee shops know about this and are looking for ways to protect their customers without scaring them off. Pay attention when they give warnings. This is a situation where the community can create defensive/protective energy, and stop crime before it starts. Sometimes it takes a village to make kids think twice about what choices they are making.


This Public Service Announcement is brought to you by the California Writers Club. Please share!

—Written by Kristen Caven, co-author of The Bullying Antidote. We believe in Prevention and Restorative Justice. Learn more at the Zorgos Reader and our FB Page.

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Lloyd Lofthouse September 16, 2019 (11:16 am)

    I have a friend who was a Marine before he switched to the Army (14 years in uniform) and became a Green Beret medic, and I’d like to be there in one of those coffee shops and watch anyone try to take his laptop away from him.
    I laughed just thinking about what would happen if some idiot tried to grab his laptop. With his training and combat experience in the Middle East, he wouldn’t even be aware that he had flipped into combat mode. It would take him maybe three seconds and by the time it was over, several of these teens would be flat on the floor in pain wondering what had happened … that is if they were still conscious.

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