Chip thieves strike Silicon Valley

Several thieves made off with about $190,000 worth of microchips this week after deliberately crashing into a van carrying the cargo, according to reports.

A report (click for PDF) from police in Santa Clara, Calif., said the heist involved an intentional fender-bender at an intersection. The four thieves crashed their van into the van with the chips, and when the drivers got out to survey the damage, a passenger from the offending van snuck around the other side of the cargo van. Before the victim could react, both vans had taken off.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the chips were worth $190,000. Representatives for the Santa Clara Police Department did not return calls seeking confirmation of that amount, as well as which Silicon Valley chipmaker is missing some inventory. The theft happened very close to the headquarters of well-known chip companies such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia and National Semiconductor, as well as dozens of other smaller outfits.

Chip theft used to be more common in Silicon Valley during the late 1990s, but with the dot-com bust came a drop in chip heists. So is this another sign the bubble is back?

Update: Lt. Mike Sellers of the Santa Clara Police Department confirmed that the chips were worth $190,000, and said they were memory chips, although he had no further details on what type of memory chip. He also did not have information as to which company was victimized by the theft.

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