MacBook catches thief in the act

How often have you left your laptop in your apartment and walked away? Joshua Kaufman did just that on March 21st, but this time, he returned to find it missing. The thief crawled through the window, and quickly exited with the laptop in tow.

As any good citizen would, Mr. Kaufman immediately called the police department and reported the theft. According to the BBC, the Oakland Police Department filed a report, noting that the laptop had tracking software installed. 

Hidden, the software used to track the laptop is designed for iMacs and MacBooks, allowing the subscriber to,

"...locate your stolen computer anywhere on the planet, collect photos of the thief and screen shots of the computer in use. (We also collect lots of nerdy network information, but we won’t bore you with the details!)"

Shortly after the laptop was stolen, the application began sending pictures back to Mr. Kaufman (using the Macbook's internal webcam):


Image Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Mr. Kaufman setup a website, thisguyhasmymackbook, with pictures and screenshots from Hidden. Eventually, the software sent a picture back which the police were able to use to identify the thief and recover the laptop. However, this action was taken after Ms. Joshi of the Oakland Police Department was contacted by ABC's Good Morning America (according to the BBC), finding that,

"Mr Kaufman's initial report had been filed in error with theft reports for which no leads existed to aid the investigation."

Certainly in this case, Hidden played a key role in the recovery of the laptop, along with a bit of poking and prodding from ABC to jumpstart the investigation.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Galaxy Tab 10.1 to start appearing in NYC June 8; LTE version revealed

Next Story

Jack Ma: Yahoo should be split up

27 Comments

View more comments

what said,
Another win for the power of social networking. Got to love police that don't do anything until the media gets a whiff that something interesting is going on.

What else is new, though? Seriously, burglary and theft have to be on the absolute bottom of police departments' priority lists. Basically the only reason to file a police report is just so your insurance can kick in. Police typically won't do **** for you.

Shadrack said,

What else is new, though? Seriously, burglary and theft have to be on the absolute bottom of police departments' priority lists. Basically the only reason to file a police report is just so your insurance can kick in. Police typically won't do **** for you.


boohoo, here in holland if you go with the location, name and details of stolen goods... they still dont do anything.
In most parts of the world they'll at least take the effort to go after them if the work is already done....

If people are dumb enough to not reinstall OS right away after stealing, they deserve to get caught.

Well, they deserve getting caught regardless of anything. lol

mehta708 said,
If people are dumb enough to not reinstall OS right away after stealing, they deserve to get caught.

Well, they deserve getting caught regardless of anything. lol

True, but even thief's are usually just average computer users that don't know how to reinstall an OS. It's like that one talk the guy gave about how he found his computer 2 years after the fact. After 2 years and after the computer switched numerous hands, all of his data was still there.

If any one is interested here is the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4oB28ksiIo

mehta708 said,
If people are dumb enough to not reinstall OS right away after stealing, they deserve to get caught.

Well, they deserve getting caught regardless of anything. lol

doesn't help if you have a system that has a Computrace chip in it, reinstall the OS all you want....

warwagon said,

True, but even thief's are usually just average computer users that don't know how to reinstall an OS. It's like that one talk the guy gave about how he found his computer 2 years after the fact. After 2 years and after the computer switched numerous hands, all of his data was still there.

If any one is interested here is the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4oB28ksiIo

TY Warwagon. But, like you said... it still doesn't excuse the facts that they'd be more successful, and avoid apprehension more often if they were even moderately more "tech savvy".

kizuran said,

TY Warwagon. But, like you said... it still doesn't excuse the facts that they'd be more successful, and avoid apprehension more often if they were even moderately more "tech savvy".

By tech savvy you mean cracking open the case and removing the chip? I've seen a few different tracking options that aren't stored on the drive so the thief can format / reload all he wants, even swap the drive, it won't stop the tracking software from working. The only safe way to prevent being tracked would be to never go on the internet and seriously, what's the fun in that.

warwagon said,

True, but even thief's are usually just average computer users that don't know how to reinstall an OS. It's like that one talk the guy gave about how he found his computer 2 years after the fact. After 2 years and after the computer switched numerous hands, all of his data was still there.

If any one is interested here is the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4oB28ksiIo


actually lots of his data was lost. And if he didnt use it as a server, he would never have found it back

why formating hard drive reinstalling clean OS not the first thing thing after obtaining a used computer? oh wait, tape over camera lens before that. what an evil software.

leo221 said,
why formating hard drive reinstalling clean OS not the first thing thing after obtaining a used computer? oh wait, tape over camera lens before that. what an evil software.

Quit trolling dude. How is it evil? The software does entirely what the person installing it wants it to do, BY CONSENT.

leo221 said,
why formating hard drive reinstalling clean OS not the first thing thing after obtaining a used computer? oh wait, tape over camera lens before that. what an evil software.

Troll fail.

My Windows Mobile was stolen once but I had MyPhone installed so when the guy switched cards I got all his contacts and SMS and other stuff. It was easy to get it back. Personally, this isn't newsworthy to me... the guy made a big deal about it by creating a website so yeah.

I saw somewhere a question besides here questioning why the guy didn't just reinstall the OS. On a Mac, you can enable some extra security that makes it virtually impossible to overwrite the OS. You can lock down the EFI so even if they had an install Disk, they would have to enter the password to install a fresh OS.

Now, there are ways to circumvent this, but for the casual thief, this is usually enough. Most are 'grab and go' types and 'dump and sell' for the money to feed their habits.

Medfordite said,
I saw somewhere a question besides here questioning why the guy didn't just reinstall the OS. On a Mac, you can enable some extra security that makes it virtually impossible to overwrite the OS. You can lock down the EFI so even if they had an install Disk, they would have to enter the password to install a fresh OS.

Now, there are ways to circumvent this, but for the casual thief, this is usually enough. Most are 'grab and go' types and 'dump and sell' for the money to feed their habits.

regarding EFI/bios password are useless if you have access to hardware just remove clock batteries and back to default with no password set

Ci7 said,

regarding EFI/bios password are useless if you have access to hardware just remove clock batteries and back to default with no password set

Not on all laptops. I've seen laptops that had been locked out and removing the battery or even submerging the board with the battery in (to allegedly cause it to reset) wouldn't remove the lock. The only remedy was to contact the manufacturer for their help. If I remember correctly, it was a Toshiba laptop. This was about 5 years ago. I don't remember much more than that.

Ci7 said,

regarding EFI/bios password are useless if you have access to hardware just remove clock batteries and back to default with no password set

Yes but the typical thieves aren't going to risk damaging their illegally gained booty by trying to open it.

better question, does Mac have a chip like computrace in it yet? if not why the heck not? they are high value targets anymore

Commenting is disabled on this article.