Thieves steal laptops in Hayward coffee shops

Thieves steal laptops in Hayward coffee shops

Erika Martinez,
Staff Writer

There has been a cause for anxiety circulating the Hayward community. In the last few months, several police reports have been filed in regards to laptop thefts in coffee shops.

Hayward’s local coffee shops such as Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, Eon Coffee, Eko Coffee Bar and Tea House have become targets for thieves to prey on customers who bring their laptops with them.

“They stole one laptop from a lady and from a young man,” Eko Coffee Bar and Tea House manager Christopher Dizon told The Pioneer. About three months ago, on a Saturday night, a group of kids who seemed to be around the ages of 12-15 came in and snatched away two laptops from two customers.

According to Dizon, the kids came in and were hanging out in the patio. He thought it was suspicious how they did not order anything and were avoiding him. “I could tell that they were watching me, but I didn’t want to make anything of it,” he said.

As soon as Dizon left to the back of the kitchen, the teenagers seized the opportunity to steal the laptops and run. “I was chasing them for as long as I could, but they were fast,” Dizon stated. The young man was able to get his laptop back because he chased them until the thieves gave up and returned it, but the young lady, unfortunately did not.

“The thing is, it’s not one set group. It’s different people doing it,” said Dizon. Three weeks ago, Dizon witnessed a young man steal a laptop from a customer at Eon Coffee. “A kid came in, it was a blur. I was sitting in the corner drinking my coffee and reading, he was scouting people’s laptops and he had a getaway car,” he depicted.

According to Dizon, there is not one group who is doing this, some are young teenagers who seem to come from different schools who ride BART and surveil different downtowns, and some are older with getaway cars.

Dizon believes that these robbers are not Hayward natives and scope out each robbery a couple months before coming back.

“It’s a very rare chance that you’ll get your laptop back when stolen, because they wipe it clean and sell it,” Dizon said, recounting what the police explained to him after filing a report. “So it’s not too much they [Hayward Police] can do.”

Starbucks stores around Hayward have also experienced these incidents. The most recent one occurred on Sunday, May 20 in the afternoon. As a Starbucks barista myself, I witnessed a young girl’s laptop get snatched in front of her as a small group of men ran away with it with their hoodies on, making sure their faces were covered.

Sergeant Gregory Velasquez from the Hayward PD told The Pioneer that this has been a recurring incident for the last several months. The Hayward Police Department has classified these robberies as a “crime of opportunity,” where these incidents are not planned, and the thief takes advantage of the opportunity when given.

Hayward PD has not found evidence of there being one set group and had no answer as to whether these thieves were Hayward natives or not. They have linked the robbers as being young adults, and what they seem to do with the laptops are swiping them clean to re-sell them. Once that is done, it is difficult for HPD to do anything more.

What Hayward PD suggests to the Hayward community is to never leave your phone or laptop unattended, be aware of your surroundings and use a lock for your computer.