East Bay cartoon animator devastated after laptop stolen in Alameda Starbucks robbery

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- An East Bay man says his livelihood as a cartoon animator is in serious trouble after the brazen theft of his laptop computer.

Cartoon animator, Gene Hamm was working on his laptop computer inside the Starbucks on Atlantic Avenue in Alameda Saturday night, creating new educational animated DVDs for kids.

"I've never been so scared in my life," cartoon animator Gene Hamm said. "If they had a weapon, I wouldn't be talking to you."

Hamm says four young men wearing hoodies stormed inside the Starbucks. One of them headed right for him.

"Suddenly, he grabbed my laptop out of my hand, knocked my drink over and ran out the door with it," Hamm said

Another customer had her laptop stolen during the strong arm robbery, and tried chasing down the suspects, but they got away through a parking lot.

On July 18th, two customers were robbed of their laptops inside the Starbucks on Park St. In Alameda, by suspects who police say ran in, and then ran out.

"In both cases the suspects were in their late teens or early 20s, two to four of them, " said Alameda police Lieutenant Matt McMullen.
Police say laptop thefts can happen anywhere, but can't say for sure if these crimes are related.

Some customers are taking no chances.

"I'll often have a friend with me. I'll ask them to keep an eye on it, or ask my neighbor 'can you watch my computer for a second?'" Alameda resident Michelle Wright said.

For now, Hamm says his animation career is on hold.

"I gotta start over, new software, new computer, I think Starbucks should help me with that," Hamm said.

Police say laptop thefts can happen anywhere. Authorities can't say for sure if these crimes are related. For now, police urge people to be vigilant.

"Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, be a good witness and get descriptions and license plate numbers if you can," said McMullen.

Starbucks says it's working with local authorities on the investigation, and that the safety of customers and employees is a top priority.
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