The University Record, September 10, 1996

Travelers: Beware of laptop thieves

Hold on to your laptops when you're at the airport.

A scam has been reported at airports across the country involving the thefts of laptop computers. Two people look for a victim who is approaching a metal detector and carrying a laptop computer. The criminals position themselves in front of the unsuspecting passenger. They stall until the victim puts the laptop on the security conveyor belt. The first subject moves through the metal detector easily. The second subject sets off the detector and begins a slow process of emptying pockets, removing jewelry, etc.

While this is happening, the first subject takes the laptop as soon as it appears on the conveyor belt and moves away quickly. When the passenger finally gets through the metal detector, the laptop is gone. The subject who picks it up heads into the gate area and disappears among the crowd. Sometimes a third subject will take a handoff from the first subject, and the computer is out of the restricted area before the victim even knows that it is gone.

This is becoming a common problem. When traveling with a laptop,try to avoid lines to enter a metal detector when possible. When that is impossible, delay putting your luggage and laptop on the conveyor belt until you are sure that you will be the next person through the metal detector. As you move through the detector, keep your eyes on the conveyor belt and watch for your luggage and laptop to come through, as well as what those in front of you are picking up.