Many people consider Starbucks to be their favorite hangout because of the soulful music. Others enjoy the cozy, one-of-a-kind atmosphere that each outlet has to offer. Sadly, criminals are maligning the popular caffeinated sanctuary franchise by stealing stuff from unsuspecting imbibers. It's like they don't even understand the whole point of the Starbucks experience!

The New York Times describes the severity of this new theft epidemic, focusing on New York City Starbuckses in particular. But their report could apply pretty much anywhere—a fitting tribute to Starbucks' ubiquity:

Where in the city can such a thief visit dozens of happy hunting spots on an afternoon's walk, finding rooms crowded with people staring at laptops or iPads, or texting or talking on phones, and ignoring their purses? A place so comfortable and familiar, with its jazz, leather chairs and Wi-Fi, that customers, otherwise savvy to the city's dangers, do not think twice about saving a round blond-wood table with a bag or a laptop while they stand in line?

Sometimes victims leave all their computers and iWhatnots at their table while they go to the bathroom and then come back to find their stuff is gone. This isn't a very surprising outcome, actually. Yet other victims do nothing profoundly stupid like that at all—they just look at their computer screen for a split-second, turn around, and discover that some hot-handed devil has suddenly made off with their purse full of BlackBerries. How can customers relax or get their work done if they have to constantly be on guard, on the lookout for danger?

"Customers should always be aware of their surroundings when in public places, whether at one of our stores or elsewhere," says Starbucks HQ. It's like they don't even care.

Given this spate of Starbucks stealings and news of coffee-related crimes happening at other beloved American businesses, what can you do to enjoy your coffee safely and securely? Well, it might be wise to start securing your valuables to your person using heavy chainlink attached to your belt buckle. City thieves usually don't carry saws with them, so unless they want to steal you in addition to your belongings (unlikely!) they'll most likely look at the chain and decide to prey upon someone else.

If dragging pounds and pounds of heavy chains with you all the time doesn't sound like the most practical solution, then you might consider staying at home to brew your own coffee. Or, chose a different kind of beverage to consume in public. You know, I haven't read any news stories about laptops or purses being snatched at a bar lately, so maybe you should switch over to alcohol? Just remember to stop before you get too drunk, and you and your gadgets should be okay.

[NY Times; image via AP]