Starbucks customers targeted by laptop thieves

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Updated Thursday, May 10 at 1:48 PM

PHOENIX -- Krista Rosenthal relies on her laptop for school and likes to study at Starbucks, which offers free Wi-Fi for customers.

“It's extremely valuable,” she said. “It helps me work through my classes online at Northern Arizona University.”

But now, all Rosenthal has left of her MacBook is the box and a charger. That's because last week, while using her laptop at a Starbucks on 16th Street and Bethany Home Road, two people approached her and snatched it.

“I was physically on my computer when these guys took my computer from my hands,” she said.

Rosenthal said she couldn't believe the two bandits were bold enough to just walk right up to her, rip the laptop away and run off.

“It was my worst nightmare that came true,” she said.

She filed a theft report with Phoenix police.

But 3 On Your Side has discovered laptop thefts at Starbucks are becoming somewhat common. There are reports of it happening from New York to Atlanta to Washington.

In fact, Phoenix police said Rosenthal is one of at least 15 coffee shop customers who've had laptops stolen so far this year. We’re told almost all happened at Starbucks locations in north Phoenix.

“Same method of operation by the suspects, same descriptions, same vehicle or same-type vehicle is involved in all of these,” Phoenix police Detective James Holmes said.

Holmes said several detectives are working leads in the cases, but he warns that customers who get inside their comfort zone at coffee shops are the people most at risk.

“What's unfortunate is that they become engrossed while they're in these businesses with what they're doing, and so they're not really paying attention to a lot about what's going on around them,” he said.

For now, Rosenthal said she'll stick to studying in the park, but this story doesn’t end here.

Turns out, another customer who actually witnessed her laptop get swiped wanted to help. He didn't want us to reveal his name, but he felt so bad he bought Rosenthal a new computer and gave it to her at our studio.

“You work long hours,” he said, “and it'll be my honor if you would accept a brand-new laptop in place of what was taken from you.”

It was an act of kindness that brought Rosenthal to tears because she said she didn't know when she would’ve been able to buy a new laptop on her own.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “This means a lot to me. Your generosity and kindness, you didn't know me. You know, just going out of your way, it means a lot to me.”

Starbucks sent 3 On Your Side the following statement:

"The safety and security of our customers and partners (employees) is our top priority – and we want every customer to have a positive experience each time they visit one of our stores. In order to provide a safe environment, we have security measures in place and we work closely with local authorities. Whether in our stores or in other public places, we encourage our customers to be aware of their surroundings to help keep themselves and people around them safe.”

3 On Your Side will let you know if any arrests are made in this case.

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