Software tracks computer thief

Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin: Used Apple's Find My iPhone app to locate stolen handset, confront thief

Waikato Police are encouraging computer and vehicle owners to consider purchasing reputable tracking software after the successful apprehension of thief on Monday.

District Prevention Manager, Inspector Rob Lindsay says Police became aware of an incident when an off-duty officer phoned the District Command Centre (DCC) to advise that he and a victim were tracking a just stolen laptop computer.

"Our staff member told us that an hour before he had called in to see his wife who was working at a local supermarket on Clarence St when she told him a sales rep had just had his laptop stolen.

"Using software loaded into the laptop the rep was able to track it via GPS to the corner of Anglesea and Caro Streets. While speaking to the DCC on the phone the off-duty officer described the laptop moving slowly down the road so the shift manager in the DCC started radioing up Police units in the area to respond."

Mr Lindsay said the off-duty officer had the sales rep with him and the man identified the thief he had seen on CCTV footage as a person waiting at a bus stop.

"Arriving officers approached the man at the bus stop and found him in possession of a laptop, from there the sales rep was called in and asked to use his password to unlock the device to establish if it was his or not and when this was done the 42-year-old man was arrested for theft.

"Once again we have an example of how technology can be used to prevent crime. It's not just computers that can be protected by such devices too, last year we had three examples of vehicles being stolen and traced including a glazier's van which was recovered in Melville complete with all the victim's work tools."

Mr Lindsay said Police encouraged people to utilise all the methods available through technology to protect themselves and their property.

"Another really effective, cost free prevention tool is recording serial numbers and images of your valuables on the Operation SNAP (www.snap.org.nz) database.

"This only takes a few moments of your time but is a really effective way of deterring thieves from targeting your property or, if it is stolen, helping Police prove a recovered item is stolen and who it belongs to."

Software for tracking laptops include Apple's "Find my Mac", which works via iCloud and can be enabled for those running Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") or a more recent version (the equivalent mobile app is Apple's Find My iPhone, used by Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin to track a phone that went missing at a netball game. The Telecom exec decided to knock on the thief's door him himself. The iPhone "was handed over with little drama," he tells NBR. Victoria University student Chris Cherry used an equivalent Android app, Plan B, to locate his stolen handset, leading to the successful conviction of a caretaker at the university - although to little avail. Mr Cherry told NBR he was furious when he learned the university caretaker had been allowed to keep his job).

Alternatives include preyproject.com, which runs on Windows, Mac, Android and Linux devices.

Neither come with an off-duty police officer.

Read NetSafe's guide "How to keep your mobile devices safe and secure" guide here.

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