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Laptop thieves stopped! Amazing recovery stories

Jeff Bertolucci, PCWorld | June 9, 2011
If you've ever lost a laptop or had one stolen, you know what an awful feeling it leaves behind. But a new breed of laptop security software is turning the tables.


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In the summer of 2010, Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood was struck by a rash of nighttime burglaries. The robbers hit 21 homes, and police had few clues to work with, other than a partial description of one of the culprits.

The case was bizarre. “Burglaries just don’t happen at night—very seldom anymore,” says Denver police burglary detective John Haney, who solved the case with his brother and fellow detective Mark. The bad guys “don’t want to see anybody,” he says. “They want to kick your door in when you’re not home.”

Another development concerned police: The thieves were growing bolder and more brazen. In one incident, one of the intruders had pressed a knife against a woman’s throat.

Thanks to security software and some dogged detective work, the police were able to nab the villains. After checking the paperwork associated with the victims’ stolen items—which included a 2005 Toyota Solara, cell phones, cameras, and household items—John Haney noticed that one of the laptops that the thieves had grabbed included an installed copy of LoJack.

“Did you know you’re paying for LoJack?” he asked the laptop’s owner.

“What is LoJack?” the woman replied.

“Well, you paid for it, and hopefully it will help,” he told her.

Haney contacted Absolute Software, which provided an IP address pinpointing where the stolen laptop had connected to the Internet, along with a photo of a man using the computer.

“They were on it right away,” says Haney of the Absolute team. “They were a huge help.”

The information led police to a Denver-area home, where the occupants identified the man in the photo as Zakee Toliver, who later confessed to the crimes and ratted out his juvenile partner. Toliver received a 12-year prison sentence for his role in the home invasions.

Haney believes security software is worth the expense. “Laptops are stolen so often, and if more people were to pay for a tracking system and keep their paperwork, it would really help,” he says.


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