One early morning at 3:15am, my telephone rang. Groggy and half-dead, I picked up the receiver to hear some strange person who barely spoke English, asking if he could tow my car. “Hell, no!” I said, “You can’t have my car.” I tried to go back to sleep but the phone rang again, not 30 seconds later. It was another non-English speaker who wanted my car. Well even in my sleepy state, this seemed like too much of a coincidence so I asked, “Who is this?” He explained that he was with a towing company and that he needed permission to tow my car out of a cow pasture. This seemed to make sense to him, but I was utterly confused. I dropped the blinds and looked out the window toward my parking space in my apartment and sure enough, my car was not there. After a long sigh, I told the man on the phone, “Yes, please tow it to my local dealership and I’ll meet you there in an hour.” Twenty years later it still makes my blood boil when I think back to that day. Two fools stole my car, took a long joy ride, smoked cigarettes in it, spilled beer in it, and finally urinated in it after abandoning it, stuck, in a cow pasture outside of
I don’t miss apartment living. Today, my cars are tucked neatly in my garage, and they’re equipped with software from OnStar that would track them in the event of another theft. LoJack is another option, where a small GPS unit is hidden somewhere in the car and it broadcasts the car’s position so the police can find it and possibly shoot the thieving bastards who took it.
My laptop however, roams a lot more than I’d like for it to. I am deployed on 5 day commitments, so every day I boot up my laptop, work, and then at the end of the day I am sorely tempted to just leave the darn thing there at a desk so I don’t have to pack it up again and haul it back to the hotel where, quite frankly, I wouldn’t use it because I’m sick of it. I bring it back though, because laptop theft is at an all time high.
One of my faithful readers asked, “Do they make LoJack for laptops, and if they do, is it a good investment?” The answer is, yes, they do. Is it a good investment? You decide. For laptops, the technology doesn’t use GPS. It uses the IP address your computer uses to connect to the internet. TCP/IP addresses are localized a bit like zip codes (ever wonder how those stupid pop-up ads seem to know where you are? “Call single people near you in
The only thing you have to keep in mind is there are three types of people who steal laptops:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>Those who want the hardware. These thieves will steal your laptop and probably not even turn it on. They’ll sell it or sell the parts, in which case the software can’t help you.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2. <!–[endif]–>Those who are smart about stolen computers. These thieves will promptly wipe the hard drive at the bit level, rendering the software “gone” and useless.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3. <!–[endif]–>Casual thieves. Common to college campuses and coffee shops, these thieves will snag your laptop for a personal joy-ride around the internet. These are the thieves the software is famous for catching.
So, to which thief are you more at risk? Is it worth the money to buy the software? Personally, I decided against it. I don’t keep enough personal s/w and information on my corporate laptop to make a difference and I always keep it with me, so I said, “No thanks.” If a thief breaks into my garage to try and steal one of my cars though… I have a new 12-guage “hardware upgrade” that I plan to test against his mettle!
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.