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Travelers Warned of Laptop Thieves

August 11, 1996

Alerting laptop computer owners who travel by air, Consumer Reports Travel Letter warns that laptops have been ripped off by thieves in well-orchestrated operations in several airports.

The theft usually works like this: When a traveler approaches the metal detector at a security inspection station and places a laptop on the X-ray conveyor belt, two crooks quickly get into line just ahead. The first person passes through the metal detector without incident, but the second deliberately triggers the alarm and stalls the line while emptying pockets in an apparent attempt to pass through successfully. While the traveler is stuck behind the second crook, the first one snatches the computer off the belt and either vanishes with it or hands it to a third person.

Even when separated from one's laptop, a traveler should try to keep an eye on it, the newsletter advises. If someone is seen grabbing it, making an outcry should alert nearby security personnel.

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