Laptop Stolen While Owner Was Using It at Cortland Coffee Shop


Ugh. There was some unpleasantness yesterday at Progressive Grounds coffee shop on Cortland. Neighbor Davis reports:

My roommate’s laptop was stolen out of her hands on Sunday while she was working out of Progressive Grounds. It happened at 1:30PM; the two people (young African-American men) came into the coffee shop and one man grabbed it from her table and ran out of the coffee shop while the other man followed him. My rooomate pursued the two people heading south on Bennington Street, where the two men eventually headed east around Ellert or Newman Street and jumped into a grey SUV that was waiting for them and sped away.

Various people in the cafe proceeded to help her figure out how to catch them. The police were called and she filed a report with them. The cops later contacted her with possible leads on cars around the area.

We are currently trying to figure out if there is some kind of surveillance footage on cortland street or adjacent streets that might have captured any video footage of the criminals.

Have footage? Bernalwood will be glad to pass it on. In the meantime, please be careful out there.

14 thoughts on “Laptop Stolen While Owner Was Using It at Cortland Coffee Shop

  1. Everyone can download a free app to their phones and computers: Prey Project. This app lets you track any device, turn on an alarm function, wipe the device, and even take a picture with the built in webcam on computers. You can have up to 4 devices on 1 account before you have to start paying. My company has found this app very useful!

  2. +1 for using Prey. It’s free for individual use and works great. We’ve installed it on hundreds of work computers and used it successfully a number of times.

  3. I’m sorry to hear this. The same exact thing happened to me. About 2 years ago. When I was writing my book at Progressive Grounds, which is a great place to write. Although it a bit different in that I stupidly went to the bathroom for one minute, so fast, they ran in and swiped it. Even though I asked someone to watch it while i was in the bathroom. Warning: never do that! take you lap top to bathroom even if someone is willing to watch it. The two guys ran down bennington. I did file a police report. Jamel, a lovely Syrian man who worked at the coffee shop was very brave and daring and he chased the robbers, got their license plate number even. (Jamel now has a very good job with NSA I heard. He’s a sweet heart and I”m grateful to him.) The woman at the video store said she knew the two guys from her high school. The police went to their house and spoke to the parents. but nothing was done or confirmed. Apple has some great security apps built into their new computers now. Which is great. Contact apple if it was a new computer. Hugs. Thanks Bernalwood for the good reminders and news updates.

    • Probably the same two thugs working the same MO. The cops typically know who they’re dealing with if they’re local. Maybe they will rob a family member of the force soon and life will return to normal.

  4. So that’s what was going on. They definitely sped down Ellert–we heard the car as well as someone shouting “get the license plate number!”, but by the time we got out to the street we didn’t see anyone.

  5. 1) +100 for Prey – it’s a must on all of your devices. It’s only a few bucks per year for the full version for multiple devices and worth every last penny.

    2) On Macs (might be do-able other machines too) one should lock the boot firmware by setting firmware password – this will stop the machine from being booted to an external- or thumb-drive or allowing the hard drive to be re-imaged without entering the password. This effectively “bricks” the laptop and makes it worthless to the thieves. Here’s Apple’s support page on how to set it up:

    3) Encrypt your hard drive. On OS X this comes for free, it’s called FileVault and will secure your data should your laptop be taken (Apple’s setup instructions are here:; there are similar systems available for Windows and Linux.


    4) Keep your passwords and other data secure by using an app like 1Password – the will keep track of your passwords (and other data) for you burt ensure that bad guys (or anyone else) can’t get passwords and ensure they’re available on your your devices from OS X to Windows and iOS or Android.

    • Thanks for this list and 1Password (or competitors) is the most important of these in general. Physical robberies aren’t nearly as common as having your accounts hacked. Unfortunately 1Password is still too difficult for most to use, but Apple’s password suggestion system is at least better than nothing.

      Anyway this whole issue sets up a political conundrum: should “Progressive Grounds” install a Big Brother-style surveillance camera? Will their clientele accept the intrusion on privacy, or will they keep their laptops and business away in fear of the thugs? Is it “progressive” to view the laptop thefts as an unfortunate but justifiable wealth redistribution measure, to counter centuries of exploitation? Or should we embrace DropCams and prevent crime as a pathway to reconciliation?

      Could be a very Bernal-style debate, complete with marches and T-shirts.

  6. At the risk of feeding this obvious troll, there have been creeps of ALL ethnicities casing houses and cars, grabbing packages and bikes, and in the past, incidents like this one. Be careful and vigilant, let’s all work in concert to make BH an unappealing hunting ground for those seeking to victimize the productive majority. Don’t be a soft target, be responsive and proactive with neighbors and police, and consider getting a camera or 2 for your residence. We need to close the net around the low-life elements, so cooperation and increasing the solid evidence in police reports is how we get there.

    That said, if you see weird / antisocial behavior by individuals or cliques ( example – the scuzzy dude on a bike that maybe isn’t his size who sinks along the back roads looking into cars and drifts away as you walk by with your dog… That guy) – call it in, scare them away if secure to do so, and remember what you saw. These incidents a repeat behavior, and we need to up the pressure and visibility of enforcement to keep them out of BH!

  7. Pingback: Woman’s laptop stolen from possession at Cafe | Bay News Now

  8. Does anyone know a more precise time than 1:30p on 4/20? Confirm that is the right time?

    I have four cameras at the corner of Bennington & Newman, yet watching footage can take a bit of time

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