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Chief inspector Jesse Wynne of the City of London Police said thieves look at bags left under tables and in corners of bars and pubs as “like shooting fish in a barrel”.

Police have warned of a spike in the number of City workers being preyed on by thieves during after-work drinks for their work laptops and tablets.

Chief inspector Jesse Wynne of the City of London Police said thieves look at bags left under tables and in corners of bars and pubs as “like shooting fish in a barrel”.

On 5 February, he told the City of London Corporation’s licensing committee that such thefts were the “main issue” they are facing in the Square Mile, within the category of so-called “acquisitive crime”.

Mr Wynne told the committee: “Unfortunately, for thieves it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. 84 per cent [of the thefts] are happening in bars and pubs.

“People are coming into licensed premises and leaving a bag, usually containing a laptop, under the table or in a corner of the venue, then finding the bag has gone.”

He also suggested that companies’ willingness to replace stolen laptops means workers don’t feel encouraged to take care of them whilst drinking.

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“Criminals come in and integrate themselves with people in the venue, then steal them,” Mr Wynne said.

“One issue we’ve found is that when this happens the worker will go to their company and just be given another laptop. So there’s nothing to dissuade them from leaving their laptops on the floor.”

He added: “People don’t feel ownership because the laptops don’t belong to them, they belong to the company.”

A report produced by the City of London Police said more than 700 such cases were reported last year. 71% of victims were male, and 56% were aged 23 to 34. The majority of thefts happened on Thursday and Friday evenings.

The report also showed a sharp increase in the number of thefts as the year went on. 253 of the reported cases happened in October, November and December. In January there were only 12 reported thefts.

Other items the thieves are reportedly after include i-Pads, tablets and headphones.

The report also said “no particular area/locations [are] specifically targeted” and that “offences occur across the whole of the City.”

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