ALAMEDA, Calif. (Amber Lee/KTVU) - In Alameda, a wave of laptop thefts in coffee shops in the past three months has led police to ask people to be vigilant about their surroundings.
Police say the most recent robberies took place Tuesday. Thieves hit two coffee shops, both on Webster Street. One at Starbuck's, the other Peet's. The latter happened around 6:35 p.m. It's the second time thieves have targeted this location.
It was a quiet Tuesday evening inside the coffee shop. A patron who would identify himself only as Mehrdad told KTVU he stopped in at Peet's to do some work on his computer. Suddenly, a group of teens came inside.
One approached Mehrdad.
"A guy walked up, grabbed my laptop from my lap and ran away," says Mehrdad.
The victim says he chased the thief for about a block, but the thief got away.
When the patron got back to the coffee shop, he realized that his wallet and backpack had also been stolen.
"One of the guys hit him. Another guy snatched his laptop and before you know it, they're all running out," says a coffee shop employee who asked not to be identified.
He says this is second robbery he's witnessed here in three weeks.
He says the first time, a thief struck a woman sitting outside and ran off with her laptop.
"I'm overwhelmed because it has happened here two times. Working here for a year and then some, I just think that it's really bad for business," says the employee.
Alameda police released surveillance video of laptop thefts at other coffee shops.
On Sept. 4, thieves stole a laptop from a customer at the Starbucks on Blanding Avenue.
Investigators say minutes later, the same two suspects, in their teens or early 20's, went to the Starbucks on
Park Street and grabbed a laptop from another customer.
As of this night, police say there have been eleven incidents, but that the suspect descriptions are not the same in all the cases.
Police are advising patrons to take precautions.
"Consider using tracking software so you can find it if it becomes lost or stolen," says Alameda Police Lt. Wayland Gee.
Victim Mehrdad tells KTVU he was sitting by the front door and he was distracted.
"I'm definitely going to be more careful. I wasn't prepared for this. I was kind of lost in sending out emails," says the engineering consultant who says he relies on his computer for his livelihood.
Police say these cases are crimes of opportunity.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects in the surveillance video are asked to contact Alameda police.