News From The Future: Theft Impossible

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.


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