Jun 28 2012
No that is not a typo in the title!
Just thought that you may be interested in a short story of recent events.
On Monday 11 June I drove to Kings Park and went off for my training run at about 6:15am. When I returned to the Corolla at about 7:00am the passenger window was broken and my work bag (containing my personal 15 ” MacBook Pro and other assorted gear including wallet) and my gym bag (containing work clothes etc) had been taken and the car rifled through. Subsequently we found out that we were not insured for this loss.
On the laptop I had installed Find my iPhone/Mac (an Apple product) and Prey an open-source tracking program, which would activate the next time the laptop connected to the internet. For nearly 2 weeks the laptop was silent and we considered that someone knowledgeable had replaced the hard-drive or similar and that the laptop was lost.
Early on Monday 25 June as I was getting ready to run I started to receive emails on my phone from Prey that my laptop was on-line. I started communicating with the WA Police, however the original receiver of the call took info, but didn’t seem to grasp the data that I was giving her. As soon as I could I got into work where I could better access the internet and probe the data that I had. Surprisingly Prey had located the street address at which the WiFi signal which the laptop was connected to emanated from. (it even helpfully have me the maps and Google street-view image). Additionally it had fired up the webcam and taken pictures of the person using it and collected a wide range of forensic computer data.
I passed this information along to the Police and I was called back by an officer who seemed to know what was going on and I communicated with him and a Police Officer from Gosnells (near where the laptop was) a few times as they followed things up.
At 11am I received the following email from him
Just a quick email to let you know my colleagues at Gosnells have retrieved your laptop and arrested the Person of Interest. 1/C xxx xxxx will be in touch with you shortly. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the other property that was stolen was recovered but I dare say he will be able to advise you officially.
A good start to the week for a change!
I subsequently spoke to the Gosnells officer and he said they went to the address I provided them with and asked the person who opened the door if this person (held up the photo Prey had captured) was there. He came to the door and they arrested him and retrieved my MacBook Pro!
On the way home from work I stopped at Gosnells Police station and collected my laptop.
From receiving my first email from Prey to being advised of the successful outcome, 5 hours! Amazing.
I pass this story along as if you have portable electronics, then the free, open source Prey software is very cheap (free) insurance, which in my case, proved successful!
(Of interest is that the Find my Mac/iPhone software did not activate at all during this time, so based on this evidence I would not rely on it for this sort of service.)
It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux and Ubuntu and whilst there are services for which you can pay, I was using the free version.