Businesses and homeowners beware - thieves are preying on the innocent and stealing the merry from Christmas.Thieves have laptops and other electronics on their gift lists.
Police say the number of burglaries and robberies increases around Christmas. The latest place thieves raided was a computer store and they also got away with sensitive personal data.
Mike Hanson with the Madison Police Department says thieves are looking for small items with big price tags.
"'We don't necessarily believe there is a laptop thief ring but it's just the popularity of stealing a laptop for its quick cash value," says Hanson.
On Thursday morning, someone broke into the MacShop on Odana Road in Madison, stealing $15,000 to $20,000 in merchandise.
"There were some items that were not the property of the shop but were the property of our customers with their data," says MacShop Co-Owner Jonathan Neese.
Many of the computers were in for repairs and stored everything from financial information to family pictures. The store's multiple locks and sophisticated ADT security system still wasn't enough. Police say it is not the only place thieves are raiding.
"Since September, when the students came back, we noticed a number of burglaries in the downtown area," says Hanson.
Earlier this week, one man was caught in the act burglarizing a house on the 500 block of West Dayton. Investigators say he stole laptops and video game consoles while the occupants were home. The same day, Madison Police were called to at least two other robberies in the same area.
"People need that quick cash for their holidays or their quick items for the holidays or also for their drug and alcohol habits," says Hanson.
Police encourage people to back up computer data, secure it and store the devices out of plain sight. They say once it's gone, there's no telling what thieves may really make off with.
"Their personal information is what's really bothering me right now," says Neese. "We don't know and we're getting in touch with them as quickly as we can."
The store is still working to contact all the owners whose information may be compromised. So far, at least three individuals who brought their computers in for service probably won't get them back. If you brought your laptop in for service before Thursday at the MacShop on Odana Road, you should call the store to make sure you were not a victim.