Stolen laptop? Track it down!
If you have a laptop you must read this post.
There have been two wonderfully awesome stories recently of people who have had their laptops stolen, but have had them returned to them via the internet.
And its not just the kindness of strangers on the internet, but rather a really cool James Bond-ish type of cyber tracking where the owners of the laptops have tracked down the thieves, found out who they were via the laptops webcam and via screenshots, where they were and then used the power of the internet to reclaim their laptops.
First was the story was from a guy named Sean Power, a Canadian author and tech consultant. His laptop was stolen and using a program called Prey, he was able to track the thief and his laptop to a bar in New York. He was able to then watch the thief via webcam and screenshots of his laptop sign into his Skype account, Gmail, bank account etc. He used this info to relay to the police and thanks to some very friendly folks on twitter the laptop was returned with minor damage.
The second story just ended a few minutes ago with the police retrieving the stolen laptop from the thief who was a cab driver. The owner of the laptop, Joshua Kaufman, used another program called Hidden, to track the thief, identify who and where he was, and was able to determine that the guy drove a cab. He even created a website just to post the pics of the guy using his laptop. http://thisguyhasmymacbook.tumblr.com/ The police used this to have the thief pick them up in his cab! They were able to retrieve the laptop and arrest him and thus another happy ending.
Moral of these stories, is that if you own a laptop you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD take a look and install one of these programs on it while you still have it.
A couple of options
Prey: Works on Mac, PC, Linux – Free, but also has Pro account for more options
Hidden: Mac Only – Pricing start at $15 per year
I was telling the first story to my brother in law the other day who then told me that his laptop was just stolen a few days earlier. doh!
Do yourself a favor and check out those programs and install one on your laptop. Besides getting your laptop back it is so much fun to be able to watch and track the thief in real time.
P.S. I installed Prey on my Macbook pro right after following that first story on twitter.