A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called Steal This Laptop, about how people in the city have developed the tendency to leave their laptops and other valuables lying around unattended.
Not long after that, a police officer at a protest told me what she thought of the most recent arrivals to the East Village, saying, "These people are victims. Stupid. They save seats with their laptops! With their handbags! And then just walk away. That's all we deal with now--stolen laptops."
Even so, I couldn't believe that anyone would actually use a laptop to save a seat. Now an anonymous tipster sends in the following story...
"Tonight I was in the Starbucks at Astor Place. I was looking for a chair and I saw that somebody had saved a good seat at an empty table by placing a laptop bag on it. With the laptop in it. I thought, Who would leave that there?
Anyway, I ordered my coffee and took a seat nearby. I wasn’t paying any attention. My girlfriend came in and we were talking. At some point, two people sat down at the empty table, a guy and a girl. The girl was talking about looking forward to her summer vacation when she started looking around frantically.
'Oh my god,' she said, panicking. 'Where's my laptop?'
She asked everyone sitting nearby, 'Did you see anyone take it?'
Nobody had noticed the laptop and nobody saw anyone take it. The girl was very upset. I felt bad for her. Her boyfriend called the police, but I don’t think that laptop is going to turn up."