Stolen laptop recovered thanks to Prey and swarm of Twitter users

Here's a typical unfortunate scenario: You're out on a trip and somehow your laptop gets stolen. Let's say it's a Macbook. You then remember you were smart enough to install some anti-theft software such as Lo-Jack, or a more low-tech but free solution such as Prey. Lo and behold, your beloved laptop comes back online and you're tracking the movements of your laptop's unsuspecting thief.

You grab enough evidence and plan to file a police report to get your laptop back. But that could take a while. In this particular case involving a man from Ottawa, ON, he tried something different. He went on Twitter and shared his story with his followers. Fortunately, some of them happened to live in or near Manhattan, where the man lost his Macbook. The end result? A bunch of random Twitter users were able to track down the thief and demand the return of the laptop. Police were not involved.

As reported by the CBC, Sean Power, a web analyst from Ottawa, became an overnight sensation on Twitter when his story shared on his Twitter account led to to the successful return of his laptop early yesterday morning. It first started with Power remembering he had Prey installed on his laptop, then tweeting the picture of the thief. Once he had enough info, he called the police, but they refused to go to the location as he did not file an incident report.

Fortunately, at that same bar the thief was in, a follower was there, spying on the thief. Despite Power's pleas for him not to confront the thief, he managed to obtain the thief's cell number. Power then surprised the thief with a phone call. The thief gave up the laptop to the distant Twitter hero.

Power got his Macbook back, although with a few undesired modifications done to it. His files remained intact. As for the thief? Powers isn't planning on pressing charges. A rather happy ending (minus the spray paint) to another case of the growing impact of Twitter on our daily lives.

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30 Comments

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an SEO marketer has his laptop recovered by another SEO marketer on the same day said software was uploaded to several free software sites. Convincing stuff....

3lixir said,
an SEO marketer has his laptop recovered by another SEO marketer on the same day said software was uploaded to several free software sites. Convincing stuff....

Ah, that's why he didn't press any charges

and about the "stupid" person that tracked the thief? How do you know HE wasnt some form of "Dexter", meaning that if he didnt give it back they guy would have pursuaded him to.

Goes to show and is plenty proof that a community can handle matters without some form of brutal police interference, and for the victim to offer forgiveness.

As for people taking things into their own hands, police are simply people too.

Wow thats pretty cool. People always talk about how the world has went to hell in a handbasket, but stories like this are really inspiring to me.

Not sure you can consider vigilantism + the thief getting away with it as a happy ending in any way, not to mention that he didn't even get his laptop back as it was stolen.

Julius Caro said,

RANDOM much?

People went to the bar after the tweet telling them where the thief was. Nothing random here.

A bunch of random Twitter users were able to track down the thief and demand the return of the laptop. Police were not involved.

Not sure how I feel about people taking this into their own hands. It ended peacefully this time could so easily have escalated into something more.

what said,

Not sure how I feel about people taking this into their own hands. It ended peacefully this time could so easily have escalated into something more.


yeah that guy was stupid, however it is insane that the police refused to respond to something time sensitive like this because there isn't proper paperwork.

what said,

Not sure how I feel about people taking this into their own hands. It ended peacefully this time could so easily have escalated into something more.

Well when the police refuse to respond to the reports of a crime.. what are you to do!

Someone should clarify that "Prey" = an Anti-Theft software, not the Video Game. For those of you wondering how Prey the Video game came into factor.

xendrome said,
Someone should clarify that "Prey" = an Anti-Theft software, not the Video Game. For those of you wondering how Prey the Video game came into factor.

That makes more sense. I was wondering...

xendrome said,
Someone should clarify that "Prey" = an Anti-Theft software, not the Video Game. For those of you wondering how Prey the Video game came into factor.

Haha i was wondering that. I seemed to remember that Prey was an out of body like game, which intrigued me even more when reading.

xendrome said,
Someone should clarify that "Prey" = an Anti-Theft software, not the Video Game. For those of you wondering how Prey the Video game came into factor.

Read the article?

"You then remember you were smart enough to install some anti-theft software such as Lo-Jack, or a more low-tech but free solution such as Prey"

Neobond said,

LOL! its a day old, and it's the weekend. Deal with it.

It's actually two days old and I have been dealing with it; it was only a question...

SoyoS said,
Why are you guys always so late at reporting news? This is already quite old in Internet time.

does it really matter?

SoyoS said,
Why are you guys always so late at reporting news? This is already quite old in Internet time.

Sorry that people have better things to do than watch every single news source 24/7 and post it instantly on Neowin all for the cost of NOTHING. Such a shame neowin reporters how dare you not work for us for free and report instant news updates!

-gets the whip out-

Edrick Smith said,

Sorry that people have better things to do than watch every single news source 24/7 and post it instantly on Neowin all for the cost of NOTHING. Such a shame neowin reporters how dare you not work for us for free and report instant news updates!

-gets the whip out-


First of all they don't work for free. Secondly I just wondered because it's a trend I've noticed over a period of time.

I thought as a news website they would desire to get the scoop as most sites do but I guess because they simply 'copy' most of their news from other places they are more of an "aggregater" rather then a breaker.

SoyoS said,

First of all they don't work for free.

Yes they do. At least most of them.
And, in a sea of news, they need to choose the most relevant ones first.

SoyoS said,
Why are you guys always so late at reporting news? This is already quite old in Internet time.

Some of us don't spend all day reading every internet news site. As such, this news is new to us.

If you find that another site gives you the news faster and that is of an extreme importance then I'd vote using that site for the news and Neowin for other stuff.

We all don't need or desire 0-day news nor are we watching 60 sites to ready to be upset when 59 of them aren't first...

SoyoS said,

It's actually two days old and I have been dealing with it; it was only a question...

Not 2 days! I would ask for your money back

SoyoS said,

It's actually two days old and I have been dealing with it; it was only a question...

Not 2 days? I would ask for your money back

Neobond said,

LOL! its a day old, and it's the weekend. Deal with it.

done.

*removes neowin from his bookmarks and adds a hosts file redirect to 127.0..0.1*