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More than 100 Apple Store customers targeted by L.A. burglars

More than 100 burglary victims near Los Angeles, Calif., are said to have been spotted and followed by criminals after they visited Apple retail stores.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a group of thieves in the metropolitan area conducted more than 100 "follow away" burglaries over the past year. In December, three L.A. residents were charged by the Orange County district attorney's office with burglary and grand theft in connection with 28 cases. The district attorney said customers who visited Apple retail stores had their vehicles broken into, and computers were stolen.

Another 15 cases since September are under investigation by the Manhattan Beach Police. Those victims were targeted at the Apple Store at the Village Mall on Sepulveda Boulevard.

"The suspects sought by Manhattan Beach police had a specific method of operation, Brown said. They stake out an Apple store and choose their target," the report said. "Then they follow their prospective victims when they drive to another shop or a parking spot near their home. If computers are left unattended inside the vehicle, the thieves strike."

It is believed that the burglaries are the result of a large crime ring that spans across Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and the stolen computers are being shipped out of the country. Law enforcement officials have advised residents not to leave expensive items like computers in their car unattended.

The burglaries first began in December 2008, when suspects reportedly attempted to break into the car of an undercover police officer who purchased an Apple computer at a store at the Shops at Mission Viejo in California.

Apple recently renovated its store in Mission Viejo after Microsoft opened its own retail outlet in the same mall.

As a seller of high-priced computers and electronic devices, Apple retail stores are frequently the target of burglaries. In September, thieves were caught on film at a New Jersey Apple store as they smashed a window in front of the location and ran out with tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise.