I have lived with a laptop on my shoulder for almost twenty years. I have traveled to three continents through some of the most thief riddled airports and countries. In that time I’ve never had any piece of my technology stolen. My perfect track record of keeping my equipment mine changed two weeks ago on a otherwise pleasant Friday evening out with friends. That is when I became the victim of a smash and grab robbery.
My first reaction upon reaching my car and seeing the shattered glass that at one time made up my passenger side window was not one of anger or fear, but of shame. Shame that because even though I know what I need to do to protect my critical technological tools and gadgets I had not taken the time to do so.
Benjamin Franklin once famously stated, “
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”. This adage has never held truer then when it comes to protecting your technological investments.
The steps below are some recommendations on what to do before and after a theft occurs.
The Ounce of Prevention: What to Do Before Your Technology is Stolen:
- Know What You are Carrying. In my case, not only was my laptop in the case that was stolen, so was my cell phone, wi-fi hotspot, several gadgets that I was reviewing, and many important papers that had accumulated over the months. Since I did not have an accurate inventory, I’m still calling the police almost everyday with something I remember was in my laptop case.
- Write Down Serial Numbers. Most electronics have serial numbers. Write them down the minute you purchase a piece of technology and store in a safe place (not in your laptop bag!). These numbers are critical if you find yourself in the same situation that I was in.
- Install Tracking Software. All smart phones and laptops are capable of having software installed that allows them to be tracked. iPhone users can install ‘
Find my iPhone’. Android users can install ‘
Where’s My Droid’. Both of those applications are free and easy to use so install them now! For your laptop, products such as
LoJack for Laptops, while not free, offer guaranteed retrieval or replacement options.
- Consider Purchasing a Trackable Laptop Bag. Laptop bag makers like
booq now offer options to help you find your lost or stolen property. These types of products are very helpful in assisting not only in retrieving your possessions but also in the police case itself. For example, even though my laptop has yet to surface, my laptop bag was found many miles from where it was stolen.
- Backup Your System Regularly. There are many reasons to have a regular backup plan for your computers, but the ability to have access to all your critical documents after a laptop theft is perhaps the greatest benefit. Online backup services such as
Mozy make the process painless and affordable.
Now that you have taken all the step steps to protect yourself before a technology theft, what should you do if you ever do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being sans laptop via your friendly local neighborhood petty thief?
The Pound of Cure: What to Do After Your Technology is Stolen:
- Call the Police. Although theft is not the highest priority to most large city police departments, you will need to have a police report filed. Provide the police with all the critical information you have recorded such as serial numbers. Patience is a virtue as the gears of the metropolitan police departments tend to move slowly, but your local police normally have detectives that know all the local pawnshops and other hotspots where thieves take their ill-gotten gains.
- Call Your Insurance Agent. Your auto, renters, or homeowners insurance may cover the loss and any damage that occurred to your vehicle or other property during the robbery. Your insurance agent will need the police report you filed in step one.
- Initiate the tracking software you installed. Log in to the phone software or laptop tracking websites and begin the process of having your equipment tracked.
- Change Your Passwords. Many of us stay logged into websites as a matter of convenience. If your laptop is not locked down or the thief hacks into your computer and your websites and network drives are still visible, the thief then easily gains an entirely different level of intrusion into your life.
- Check Free Classified Ad Sites. Sites like Craigslist make it easy for the criminal to post your equipment for sale. Help out your own cause by keeping an eye out for ads that list technology similar to what you have had stolen.
I’m not embarrassed because my laptop was stolen. I’m embarrassed because I live, eat, and breathe technology, yet I was not prepared. Let my pain be your prevention and follow the steps above to save yourself the nightmare I’ve been through the last two weeks.
Do you have any tips or tidbits to add? Do you have a technology question? Comment away on my
C Robert Dillon is
the digital developer at
in Indianapolis and serves as a technology consultant and on-air contributor to WISH as well as the technology expert and host of the Taming Technology segment on Indy Style. Opinions presented are those of the author and not necessarily of LIN Media, WISH-TV, or Indy Style.
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