Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!

Pt 101064

As more devices are “always on” and have geolocative features (either built in or by network access) it’s going to be harder for anyone to actually steal and keep any type of laptop, Kindle, phone, tablet. My iPhone can be located if it’s lost/stolen – it’s built in now with an added service, and there’s a story a month it seems about someone getting their laptop back because they have some type of recovery program. Some tech savvy thieves will try to completely wipe systems, but if you have a firmware password (laptops) it will be more difficult.

Eventually all of this will be built in to everything and when something is lost or stolen you’ll remotely disable it or collect enough information to recover it. RFID/NFC is also being added to the mix in more devices and other “objects”. These “objects” will end up on social networks, and yes – we’ll see them say things like “help, I’ve been stolen”. Most devices aren’t made to be taken apart, it will not be like cars where there’s a chop-shop value. It will be so cheap and pervasive, everything will be lojack-able.

The real problem will be enforcement and resources.

When a burglar stole Joshua Kaufman’s laptop, the police wouldn’t help him find it - so he turned to the Internet.

“I came home late on a Monday night in March, and someone had broken into my apartment through my window,” Kaufman, an Oakland, Calif. resident, told the Daily News. The thief made off with his MacBook, his Kindle, and a few pieces of jewelry, stuffed into a computer bag.

Kaufman called the police who filed a report on the incident, but they quickly shelved the case as a low priority. Luckily, he also remembered he had installed a security program on his computer called “Hidden,” which works to track a stolen device by triangulating its location and taking photographs with the computer’s camera.

He didn’t see anything for a few days after activating the program, but then he hit the jackpot.”The following Thursday I started getting images and location information,” he said. “I was amazed. I was like, this thing actually works!”

Using this information, Kaufman was able to tie the man to a cab company affiliated with the email address he entered, and pinpoint his location to within just a few blocks. “I was excited, honestly,” Kaufman said, thinking he’d cracked the case and police would be able to “nail him.” But they brushed the evidence off, explaining they didn’t have the manpower to pursue it despite the leads.

….“We have about 2400 theft reports that come in per month, and 3 theft investigators,” Joshi said, explaining the case fell off their list due to “an oversight on the reviewer’s part.” After two months of ignoring Kaufman’s information, Oakland police kicked the search into high gear on Tuesday night and were able to nab the man caught on camera.

In this latest example it appears the laptop was recovered after all the media attention.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. Dennis says:

    This happened to me as well. I run a small computer tech support company, and when I had a client report to me that they had 4 desktops stolen, I reminded them that we had installed an always-on, remote access application on 3 of the systems. I contacted the company providing the remote access app, and was told there would be no problem, all they needed was a copy of the police report. The detective assigned to the case (Dekalb County, Georgia) refused to provide any information to the security department at the company, even though I provided him with background on this remote application app, and told him that as soon as any one of the machines connected to the internet, that they would be accessible AND locatable through whatever ISP the thief was using. 

    It amazed me that he was not interested.  I live in a small (incorporated) city, and we have our own police force as well as other city services. Unfortunately, this theft took place outside of the city, in UNINCORPORATED Dekalb County, which is a large, heavily populated county comprising much of the greater Atlanta area. If this had happened in our city, Avondale Estates, I’m sure the results would have been much different.

    It is too bad the police are so overwhelmed that they cannot use the resources of informed, intelligent, well-prepared citizens to help solve these kinds of crimes. It is not just the 4 desktop systems, but I am confident that these same thieves have likely stolen other systems since this happened about a year ago. 

  2. Dennis says:

    This happened to me as well. I run a small computer tech support company, and when I had a client report to me that they had 4 desktops stolen, I reminded them that we had installed an always-on, remote access application on 3 of the systems. I contacted the company providing the remote access app, and was told there would be no problem, all they needed was a copy of the police report. The detective assigned to the case (Dekalb County, Georgia) refused to provide any information to the security department at the company, even though I provided him with background on this remote application app, and told him that as soon as any one of the machines connected to the internet, that they would be accessible AND locatable through whatever ISP the thief was using. 

    It amazed me that he was not interested.  I live in a small (incorporated) city, and we have our own police force as well as other city services. Unfortunately, this theft took place outside of the city, in UNINCORPORATED Dekalb County, which is a large, heavily populated county comprising much of the greater Atlanta area. If this had happened in our city, Avondale Estates, I’m sure the results would have been much different.

    It is too bad the police are so overwhelmed that they cannot use the resources of informed, intelligent, well-prepared citizens to help solve these kinds of crimes. It is not just the 4 desktop systems, but I am confident that these same thieves have likely stolen other systems since this happened about a year ago. 

  3. Dennis says:

    This happened to me as well. I run a small computer tech support company, and when I had a client report to me that they had 4 desktops stolen, I reminded them that we had installed an always-on, remote access application on 3 of the systems. I contacted the company providing the remote access app, and was told there would be no problem, all they needed was a copy of the police report. The detective assigned to the case (Dekalb County, Georgia) refused to provide any information to the security department at the company, even though I provided him with background on this remote application app, and told him that as soon as any one of the machines connected to the internet, that they would be accessible AND locatable through whatever ISP the thief was using. 

    It amazed me that he was not interested.  I live in a small (incorporated) city, and we have our own police force as well as other city services. Unfortunately, this theft took place outside of the city, in UNINCORPORATED Dekalb County, which is a large, heavily populated county comprising much of the greater Atlanta area. If this had happened in our city, Avondale Estates, I’m sure the results would have been much different.

    It is too bad the police are so overwhelmed that they cannot use the resources of informed, intelligent, well-prepared citizens to help solve these kinds of crimes. It is not just the 4 desktop systems, but I am confident that these same thieves have likely stolen other systems since this happened about a year ago. 

  4. Alan says:

    It’s certainly a good trend, but there’s a simultaneous one that may render it moot: the economical lifespans of our gadgets have gotten shorter and shorter. If someone broke into my house, they’d be better off raiding the freezer than grabbing my four-year-old MacBook.