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London computer crime ring smashed

Scotland Yard on office blagger offensive

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Scotland Yard has warned office workers in London to be more vigilant after smashing a major computer theft ring in the city.

Hi-tech kit worth more than £200,000 was seized during raids in the East End, The Evening Standard reported, including photocopiers, hard drives, laptops and monitors.

The gang is also believed to be responsible for stealing thousands of pounds' worth of computer equipment from West End offices and hotels.

One person has been charged with handling stolen goods, and another two are out on bail. In total, police are investigating assets worth more than £1 million.

The raid was part of the Met's Operation Victory, which normally concentrates on tackling street crime. Detective Chief Inspector David Peacock, who co-ordinated the operation, said: "Thefts from work are a real problem because thieves just walk into offices without anybody challenging them.

"They are often very confident and then take what they want and nobody says anything to them."

Police warned that computers are generally stolen to order and stripped down and rebuilt. "This is big business and people in offices and hotels need to be on their guard," Detective Sergeant Matthew Butterworth told The Evening Standard.

The police recommended marking computers with indelible markers, and urged staff and cleaners to challenge anyone acting suspiciously in the office.

According to a study by the Association of British Insurers, computer theft costs British companies £1 billion per year. ®

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Evening Standard story

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