Common Sense is Best Defense Against Theft of High-Tech Items

As today’s gadgets become more advanced with high-tech features
and nifty packaging, they also become more prone to theft.
As today’s gadgets become more advanced with high-tech features and nifty packaging, they also become more prone to theft. And they’re disappearing from a surprising place: your car.

Cell phones, personal digital assistants, electronic music players, laptops and digital cameras are small items that can be expensive. However, people tend to leave them unattended on the seats, dashboards or floors of their cars, said Phyllis Ward, a Gilroy Police Department crime analyst.

“Do not leave anything in plain sight. A good portion of thefts from vehicles are crimes of opportunity,” Ward said, adding that locked doors won’t necessarily keep thieves out.

Since January, at least 45 cases of stolen property in Gilroy involved one or more small high-tech items, according to a report from Ward. Of those incidents, 13 involved items stolen from a locked automobile, but 20 were considered thefts from unlocked vehicles or buildings.

Many teenagers today are equipped with the latest high-tech gear. Theft of items such as cell phones, laptops and iPods usually spikes at the beginning of the school year and then levels off, said Lloyd Webb, assistant principal of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. Although the problem isn’t rampant, it does exist, he said.

“My guess is that kids come back to school, see other kids with new toys and decide they want the toys. But any kind of theft is more than we want,” Webb said.

Mercedes Berglund, the security supervisor at San Benito High School, declined to comment about similar thefts at the school.

Ultimately, the students who bring their expensive electronics to school are responsible for them, said Greg Camacho-Light, assistant principal at Gilroy High School, adding that the school will sometimes try to help recover stolen items. Cell phones and CD players are the most common items stolen, Camacho-Light said.

Some electronic goods stores sell devices that can help prevent theft. Best Buy in Gilroy, for example, sells cables for $20 to $35 that lock into a laptop port and can be attached to something secure.

A handful of online companies also offer similar products. Bar code tags that can be etched into computers for identification purposes are available at www.computersecurity.com for $25. The Web site also has a device called a Stealth Signal, which sends out a tracking signal once a stolen computer is connected to the Internet. The service is $49 a year.

Apple Computer Inc., manufacturer of the popular portable music player iPod, does not make any sort of anti-theft device for the players.

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