Tips to prevent your laptop from being stolen, what you should do now if it is

CAMPBELL, Calif. (KGO) -- Protecting ourselves and our property is important. As we work on Building a Better Bay Area, everyone wants to feel safe as we sip drinks and use free-wifi at coffee shops everywhere.

People get so absorbed working on their laptops, they can forget about safety, even when posted signs warn customers to beware of their belongings.

Security experts say many of us lack situational awareness, ignoring who's around us and what habits can leave laptops vulnerable to theft.

Tips include: Don't leave your laptop unattended, even for a minute.

Marlena Lopez, a regular at the popular Campbell hangout Orchard Valley Coffee, admits she leaves her laptop and her phone behind when she goes to the restroom or to the counter.

Another customer says that could be a costly mistake.

What would it cost you to replace your laptop if someone stole it, we asked. "About $1,400," said Mountain View resident Leah Elitsky.

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Another tip: Back up your data in the cloud.

We asked Marlena Lopez if all her data was backed up? "Oh, God, no. It should be," she said. "Oh, I'm feeling very irresponsible in this conversation. No, it's not backed up at all."

Another tip: Engrave or brand your laptop with a serial number, company name or a logo so it can be identified if stolen and later recovered.

And be aware of people around you.

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Frankly, a lot of people just aren't aware of the people around them. For example, if a thief walks up from behind you, you don't see them in your field of vision, they grab your laptop. Would you be able to describe that person to the police?

"I probably wouldn't be able to describe a thief," said Campbell resident Francis Trias.

One more tip: Use a cable lock, similar to ones made to secure bicycles.

We bought one for about $45 at a local electronics store. Most laptops have a port for such locks. The cable is wrapped around the table leg or a chair.

"That seemed easy enough to do," said Trias after we let him try ours. "I suppose I could use the restroom or go to the counter and not worry as much."

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