Wellington police are fighting a sudden increase in the number of laptops being stolen from the central business district.
In a huge jump in reported thefts, 160 laptops have been taken in the past six months.
"It's probably not a group or gang specifically targeting Wellington or laptops but more a general realisation that these devices can fetch a lot of money on the black market," says detective sergeant Max Taylor, although he's quick to add he's willing to be proven wrong.
"The number of burglaries have stayed about the same but the incidence of laptop theft has increased dramatically." Taylor says simple economics is probably the reason for this.
"It used to be burglars would steal 20 or 30 CDs and try to sell them to second hand shops but they'd only get $30 odd for them. With a laptop they can get between $300 and $400." He says rather than a "steal to order" ring operating he believes the thefts, which have occurred in dribs and drabs, are more opportunistic than anything else.
"In a number of the cases we've found no signs of forced entry, so we're working on the assumption that swipe cards have been stolen or gone missing or that someone's come in during the day, hidden until everyone's gone home and then taken what they can."
Taylor says the most taken in one hit was 19 laptops stolen from a PC shop. Most go in twos or threes.
"We're saying laptops should either go home with staff at the end of the day or be more secure in the office, locked away or what have you." Taylor would also like to hear from any supplier that may be approached for power cords or docking stations as usually the thieves make off with only the laptop itself.
"I don't think there's any element of industrial espionage with these laptops being stolen for their data."
In Auckland the story is similar - laptop thefts tend to come in waves.
"There might be an upswing at certain times of year, usually if someone is stealing to order," says spokesperson Noreen Heggarty. She is not aware of any such increase in the region at the moment.