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Fail: A Laptop Theft gone bad - is Lo-Jack still necessary?

I just thought I'd mention it because I thought the story was funny.

I listened to the May 1, 2009, Geek News Central Podcast hosted by Hawai'i's Todd Cochrane.

From what I can remember of the story, basically, a guy stole another person's laptop. The person whose laptop got stolen, remotely accessed his computer and turned the laptop camera on. Long story short, he took a photo of the thief and the culprit was caught by the police.

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Comment by Ken Mayer on May 21, 2009 at 5:55am
Since I often visited sketchier locales in search of the perfect dive spot, I start with the assumption that someone will grope around my belongings in search of funding for his (or her) next ice fix.

So the more beater my car looks, the better. Long ago, I deliberately painted faux bird guano on a little outboard motor to deter grubby hands from taking a holo holo without me. I haven't done that with my current laptop, but I've been tempted. Why not bird poop? Then again, how much can you disguise a MBP?

If you can't deter or stop 'em, these days you could sniff for a WiFi access point to geolocate your wayward machine and send private messages (heck, tweets) back home. Heh, heh :-)
Comment by Curtis J. Kropar on May 21, 2009 at 12:01am
I was looking into that laptop software, even considered making our own to do that too.. take photo of the thief and auto send them. I still might do that. in this instance some "usefull" self installed spyware might be the best trick.(MMmmmuuuuuhahahhahahahahaha) Here ! take it ! make sure you show all of your thieving friends too ! Just ignore that stupid blue light saying wireless, every laptop has that and it means it has a batttery in it that you dont have to have the "wires" plugged into the wall.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on May 17, 2009 at 7:57am
Laurence A. Lee:When I was living in Vegas, the same set of thieves tried to steal my car -- twice in the same month.
The same thing happened to me when I was living in Makakilo about 12 years ago, but unfortunately my theft deterrants were less sophisticated. The second time they succeeded. I didn't even know my car was stolen until I got a call from the police telling me my car had been used by a 16 year old to hold up a Jack in the Box!
Thieves: Note that my current vehicle and laptop are programmed to emit 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate and then explode if they are out of my proximity for more than a day.
Comment by Laurence A. Lee on May 8, 2009 at 10:37am
Unfortunately, highly-publicized stories like these are counter-productive. As these anti-theft techniques grow in popularity, thieves will become aware and determine steps to defeat such protection. In the case of an on-board camera, it could be as simple as covering the camera lens with something Low-Tech as a small Post-It Note.

When I was living in Vegas, the same set of thieves tried to steal my car -- twice in the same month. (First one failed, thanks to an attentive patrolman who noticed a scruffy driver in a sweet vehicle, with a smashed-up steering column). They did everything right, including disconnecting the horn (defeats factory alarm); using a modified golf club handle to punch through the door's weatherstrip and tap the "Unlock Button"; and zapping the Accessory Circuit with a hand-held stun gun to blow out its fuse. (defeats most tracking devices lazily installed into the Accessory Circuit for power).

While most street thieves are dumber than a polished turd, the smart ones are observant and can figure out ways to defeat popular or common systems.

Lucky for me, I had a top-of-line aftermarket anti-theft solution installed while the car was being fitted with a new body wiring harness, and I sprang for the hidden battery-backup. On 2nd attempt, thieves smashed the window, popped the hood, and disconnected the battery. Since I had a backup battery, the siren kept going, and the starter-kill still worked. :-)
Comment by Tim Dysinger on May 8, 2009 at 6:41am
There is an open source project that does this now. I have it on my macbook. I purposefully don't lock the firmware or the desktop, because if someone steals it, I will have a better chance of catching them.

http://adeona.cs.washington.edu/

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