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Stolen Laptop, Now What?

Posted by susabelle at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2011

HandcuffsOne of my biggest fears when I travel, and anytime really, is what happens if my laptop is stolen?  I mean, my whole life is on there, right?  Yes, I have backed up my files and programs.  But still.  It’s $800 I wouldn’t like to replace, you know?

But if it’s stolen, is there any chance at all of me getting it back?  Joshua Kaufman, of Oakland, California, managed to retrieve his laptop using some creative social networking as well as some software.  Someone broke into his apartment and stole his Macbook, along with a bottle of gin and his eBook reader.  I’m sure the crook drank the gin, and sold the eBook, but that Macbook was way too pretty to pawn.  So he used it, which activated anti-theft software Kaufman had just installed.  He created a website, twittered and facebooked about the site and the stolen laptop, and had enough pictures and evidence to go to the police.  Unfortunately, the police ignored him at first, but more than two months after the theft, Kaufman has his Macbook back.

This has led me to think about getting software for my new laptop, which cost me half a leg along with a whole arm.  I can’t afford to replace it, nor should I have to.  I should be able to easily track my laptop, and get it back in my hands in short order.  But of course I’m cheap.  Really cheap.  That means I don’t want to buy anything.  There is a LoJack system for laptops, but it costs by subscriptions that start at about $40 a year.  I know, that’s not a whole lot of money, but I’m still too cheap.  There are others with varying price points, all ranging from $30 to several hundred dollars a year.  Then there’s Prey, a free, open source program that provides remote start of device-tracking.  Perfect. Not only can you track your device once it’s stolen, but you can lock out the computer from use and take a picture of the person using your laptop.  The software will work on other devices as well, not just laptops.

I’ve downloaded and installed it on my laptop.  I’m hoping I never have to use it.

What are you using to protect your devices in case of theft?

One Comment

  1. From Rangdrol at 8:19 pm on June 5, 2011

    Just saw this story on Global National TV News here in Montreal, Canada, and am happy that you provided a link. I will let my friends know about this laptop program. I’m not so sure why this didnt come out years ago!

    Thanks for the posting!