Laptop thieves foiled by tracking system

Computrace LoJack for Laptops, a hardware-based tracking device, leads police to thieves

Laptop tracking systems do work, and Absolute Software has a real-world example to add to its PR arsenal. The security tracking company's LoJack system has been used to catch alleged laptop thieves at a US airport.

Three men, all baggage handlers, were arrested at Tampa International Airport after a laptop on its way via Continental Airlines did not arrive at its destination. For the vast majority of laptops, this would have been the end of the story, but this particular machine was fitted with Absolute's Computrace LoJack for Laptops, a hardware-based tracking device.

One of the accused is alleged to have sold the stolen machine to an acquaintance for US$350, a relative of whose used it to access a MySpace account in the days after its disappearance, unaware that the very act of letting it connect to the Internet would be enough to lead investigators to the machine - the laptop connected back to the company's monitoring center, telling staff that it was 'in use'.

Police said they had recovered another laptop from the house of one of the accused, plus a wide range of other devices, indicating that the theft was not a one-off.

The number of laptops fitted with systems such as LoJack is tiny when set against the total number sold - Absolute has said in the past that it has recovered several thousand for customers - but things are starting to change. This week the company announced that it had agreed a deal to have its Computrace system integrated with Intel's Centrino laptop platform, so such technology could one day become a standard feature of laptops for anyone willing to pay the subscription.

Absolute argues that the extra cost of buying a laptop fitted with tracking technology is more than repaid in terms not only of recovered hardware but theft deterrence. The company also offers money-back guarantees on some of its security tracking products, including Lojack, as an extra incentive.

Last week, another company revealed a tracking system, using Lojack, to track missing backup tapes.

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