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The Case of the Missing Laptop

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 by cyberacoustics

So you’ve gotten the dreaded call from your child at college—hopefully it is a call and not a text message—with the bad news: dad, I’ve lost my laptop. Of course, you start asking a million questions on how this could have happened, but the fact remains: the laptop is gone. But it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily gone forever. Luckily, there’s a lot of technology options available to you to try and get the laptop back.

First of all, think about filing a police report—you’d be surprised how many people assume law enforcement can’t help in a situation like this, and don’t file a report. Contact campus police (if applicable) or your local police department and let them know what happened. Even if they can’t locate it right away, they can enter it into a national database for missing hardware. This way, if the thief tries to sell your laptop, and you’ve provided the computer serial number, an alert may be sent to the police, letting you recover the stolen laptop.

Your next step is to contact your local pawn shops, in case the thief tries to sell the laptop to them. Describe the computer, and provide the serial number as well. Most shops that are above-board will check with the police prior to agreeing to buy a used laptop, but it doesn’t hurt to cover all of your bases.

Did you know that your insurance might cover the stolen laptop? Some homeowner policies will cover it if it was stolen from a dorm room, and your auto policy may cover it if it was stolen from a car. Call your insurance agent and file a claim—be sure to include all of the relevant information from the police report you’ve already filed.

In the meantime, take advantage of social media! Post on your twitter and Facebook accounts, letting your friends and followers know that your laptop is missing. Craigslist has a lost and found section as well—you could even get physical and put up fliers around your neighborhood or campus. Consider offering a reward for your stolen laptop—the greater the reward, the greater chances of you getting it back—and hey, it’s all about the stolen data in the first place, right? It’s hard to put a price on your memories.

Lastly, don’t give up! Keep checking eBay and Craigslist for your laptop—the chances are high that the thief WILL try to sell it, so if it turns up online, you need to be aware of it.

I welcome any other tips that can be passed on, so please submit your comments.

-Steve Murphy, CA CFO

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