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Don't get Apple picked: How to protect your Mac from theft in public places

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:23 AM

Post your comments for Don't get Apple picked: How to protect your Mac from theft in public places here
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#2 User is offline   Inkling 

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  Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

Thanks for a great article. It reminded me that I need to set my new Mac mini up to be found, should it decide to take a walk.

Locking a laptop down in a public place doesn't have to be pricey. A nylon cord or strap going around it near the hinge and attached to any sort of locking mechanism or even a cord wrapped around a table leg should serve as well.

It's a bit like to story of two men being chased by a bear. When one questioned whether either was fast enough to outrun it, the other replied that he didn't have to outrun the bear. He simply had to outrun the other guy.

It's the same with theft. You don't have to be theft-proof. You just have to be more trouble to rob than the guy at the next table. A very visible nylon strap around your laptop attached to a cord around a table leg is enough for that.

The same principle applies elsewhere. After leaving my MacBook bag at an airport counter while traveling and almost losing it, but for some helpful German travelers, I adopted a similar policy. Now when on the road, tired and easily distracted, I attach a cord with clips between that laptop bag and either my belt or luggage that's large enough that I won't forget it. If you don't want something to happen, make it impossible. For that sort of thing, paracord, with a breaking strength of 550 pounds, is excellent.

Unfortunately, it's hard to extend similar protection to an iPad. There's nothing to wrap a cord around and few, if any, iPad cases come with a way to attach a cord that'd deter grab-and-run thieves. Why that's so makes no sense. An iPad is easier to steal than a MacBook and is much more likely to be used in thief-friendly locales.

--Michael W. Perry, author of Hospital Gowns and Other Embarrassments
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#3 User is offline   halhiker 

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  Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:41 PM

Apple must have some kind of way of flagging stolen Macs brought to the Apple Store. I took my MBA in for service and they said they would have to contact the person I purchased it from because it was still registered to them. After a phone call, they confirmed I bought it from her and released it to me and than changed the registration to my name.
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#4 User is offline   atena22 

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  Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

The reason that the Genius Bar and other AppleCare folks don't get involved in recovery of a lost device is that they are not law enforcement and don't have the resources to determine who the actual owner might be. For example, if you buy a machine on Ebay, the seller might report the machine stolen to Apple. If you don't change the registration with Apple (and most people don't when they buy a used machine) an Apple employee has no idea who the actual owner is. This scenario has actually happened, by the way. Apple does work with law enforcement if a police report is made. Many departments will also send a list of serial numbers of recovered devices to Apple, which will send an email to the owner of record telling them to contact the department directly.
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#5 User is offline   banks59 

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  Posted 22 February 2013 - 05:04 AM

Unfortunately, only the hardware locking solutions would provide any deterrent value. Software solutions would not be apparent to a thief. They'd probably end up throwing the device away if the drive was inaccessible. The protected device would almost need and old fashioned Operation ID type of sticker of some kind on it that could be clearly seen by the potential thieves.
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#6 User is offline   johnmcboston 

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  Posted 22 February 2013 - 05:25 AM

I understand Apple can't be 'the police' and help you find your computer - but I don't understand why they can't keep a database of stolen device serial numbers. If any pawn shop, reseller or unsuspecting buyer could check to see if the serial # is stolen, wouldn't that help the theft problem?
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#7 User is offline   AMCarter3 

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  Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:36 AM

Good article. Timely too... I've been looking at my options for Theft Recovery software. I noticed you did not mention GadgetTrak. I've subscribed to their Geo-tracking service for the last year. While I haven't had a theft incident, I mentally felt a bit more confident... until I found that GadgetTrak sends multiple reminders to renew your subscription, but they do NOT respond at all to emails. That ended my relationship with them and motivates me to write about it on blogs like this - obviously bad publicity for them.
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#8 User is offline   holmem99 

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  Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:43 AM

If any pawn shop, reseller or unsuspecting buyer could check to see if the serial # is stolen, wouldn't that help the theft problem?

I don't think so. Where I live, if a thief sells something he knows pawn shops to go to who don't ask questions. And if the cops ask they play dumb. Also thieves have learned to leave the city for big ticket items and go and sell somewhere else. And how many buyers do you know that aren't looking for a deal. Do you think everyone looks to make sure it was stolen. So would it help the problem. NO. I think the answer has to be with prevention. The only person who cares more about your tech item is you. Protect your self.
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#9 User is offline   sjoliver4 

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  Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:13 AM

Seems like Starbucks is a popular place for laptop theft (at least in this story). Try going to smaller coffee shops, off the beaten track. Your money will stay local and your computer is less likely to be stolen. Possibly.
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#10 User is offline   GeoGuy 

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  Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:36 AM

Quote

A nylon cord or strap going around it near the hinge and attached to any sort of locking mechanism or even a cord wrapped around a table leg should serve as well.


Why bother with a table leg? Just wrap the other end around your own leg, or wrist. It works anywhere. I use a short dog leash - feed the clip through the hand loop, snug it up around my Air, and attach the clip to my belt. Like you said, I only have to be more trouble than the next guy. And at Starbucks, the next guy is often one who leaves his laptop all alone while getting a refill.
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#11 User is offline   MichaelButler 

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  Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:48 PM

Quote

If any pawn shop, reseller or unsuspecting buyer could check to see if the serial # is stolen, wouldn't that help the theft problem? I don't think so. Where I live, if a thief sells something he knows pawn shops to go to who don't ask questions. And if the cops ask they play dumb. Also thieves have learned to leave the city for big ticket items and go and sell somewhere else. And how many buyers do you know that aren't looking for a deal. Do you think everyone looks to make sure it was stolen. So would it help the problem. NO. I think the answer has to be with prevention. The only person who cares more about your tech item is you. Protect your self.

This makes absolutely no sense. You're generalizing all cops, pawn brokers, etc from where ever it is you live and applying it to the nation as a whole. Pawn brokers not only pay civil fines and risk losing their license, but also they lose money on the confiscation of the product and the payment for the product. Why play dumb? What could possibly be the incentive?
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#12 User is offline   jamesruderford 

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  Posted 10 March 2013 - 03:08 AM

When I first had my MacBook Pro I took it everywhere but was also scared of it being stolen. I bought a used IBM 12"think pad and install xubuntu onto it. It being an ex business model it was battered and scratched. As we all know OSX is Linux based so lots of things were similar. Using google and iCloud most of my data that I need for on the go is on the cloud. Being Linux I have few worries of it being hacked into in a cafe. My mac now sits at home, although I still use find my mac just in case we are burgled. We take the IBM on holiday knowing that even if it is stolen it won't cost a months wage to replace. Food for thought?
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#13 User is offline   SquareCircleConsultingLLC 

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  Posted 11 May 2013 - 01:15 PM

Please note that Orbicule Undercover's pricing is not subscription based, so unlike other products, pricing is not per year. Their FAQ says:

"The $49 price tag includes everything, there are no annual fees and no hidden costs. Undercover upgrades might be paid (or not). In short, Undercover does not differ from most other commercial apps: there are no subscription costs but upgrades might be paid."
http://www.orbicule....ver/mac/faq.php

Great article!
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#14 User is offline   djvc 

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  Posted 02 June 2013 - 11:46 AM

People are so good believing. Stupid apps and location services are only to have a "secure feeling".
This is how it works:
- Thief gets your laptop
- Thief format the drive (booting another os from a usb-stick and erase the current os)
- Install a crack of os X or windows
- Sell it
==> So they never booted your computer.
Your security apps are erased when they formatted it. So they are useless.
Maybe you are lucky and a retarded thief logs in to see what's on the drive (looking for emails which contains license details of software or other data). But if they are smart enough (or poor enough) they will not connect to the internet.
This is how it works. Don't waste your money on that.
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