Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to get your MacBook stolen... and then get it back

Step 1: Travel through Dallas Airport, on the third leg of a very long journey
Step 2: Remove your computer from its bag, and place in x-ray machine, in compliance with TSA instructions.
Step 3: Get separated for your computer for no more than 3 minutes, as you go through the x-ray machine yourself.
Step 4: Exit the machine, only to discover that some thief has walked off with your computer
Step 5: Report to TSA immediately, and watch them not take the complaint seriously for at least ten minutes, while alleged perp disappears in to the crowds.
Step 6: Finally manage to get attention of the supervisor, who spends another ten minutes, going through the emptied hand baggage bins, convinced that the computer just got 'left' in one of the bins.
Step 7: Wait as they finally agree with you that someone has swiped it, and they inform you that you have to call 911, because they don't have access to the security footage.
Step 8: Call 911, and wait another ten minutes for the airport police to arrive, only to be informed that the cameras are used for security concerns only, and not for property theft. If someone has time, they will look at the footage for you. Property theft is just not priority.
Step 9: Wait, as the video is reviewed, and the person who walked off with the computer is identified on camera. The police officer states that the person's photo has been circulated and the officers will scan the airport to see if they can find him. At the same time, be informed by the officer that TSA is not liable for any theft of property while under their watch, unless you wish to sue them.
Step 10: Leave contact information with officer and head to your next departure gate.
Step 11: Call the officer an hour later to get an update, only to be informed that they 'looked' around the airport for the thief, could not find him, and so have ended any further attempts at locating your computer. If you desire, you may file a police report for the theft.

Now the really important information...how to get the computer back when law enforcement's half-baked attempt at locating your computer has failed.

Step 1: Attempt to remotely locate the computer through your 'find my iphone/ipad/macbook' app. Unless the computer has already been powered up, this will not be successful.
Step 2: Remotely set up a PIN and lock down the computer, so that it is essentially useless to an amateur, the so-called 'opportunist' thief.
Step 3: Make sure you also remotely add a telephone number to the home screen, so that any poor innocent traveler who has accidentally picked up your computer in a jeg-lagged fog, can contact you.
Step 4: Wait nearly two days to see if the computer gets powered up. When this does not occur, remotely erase your computer in order to protect any personal files you may have saved on it. Chances of getting the computer back are quite slim at this point.
Step 5: The thief finally powers up the computer, which connects to whatever wifi network is available. At this point you get an alert on your iPhone that the computer has been located in San Antonio. Simultaneously, receive an email from Apple, with the exact street address of where the computer is located. Aha!
Step 6: Start pinging the remote alarm mercilessly. This cannot be switched off by the person who stole your computer. So there is a loud, constant beeping noise, along with the alert that flashes across the computer screen, stating that 'This computer has been locked down and erased. If found, please call (205) ___-____.' (Insert telephone number here)
Step 7: Receive a phone call from the thief, stating that the computer was 'accidentally' picked up, and a promise to reurn it via Fedex overnight. The only way he can get any reprieve from the constant beeping going off on the computer!
Step 8: Receive the computer via Fedex, less than 24 hours after Step 7.

The computer was safe and sound at home, and was fully operational, after we entered the PIN. However, because we had remotely erased it, everything, including the operating system had to be re-installed. This wasn't really a big deal. My fatal mistake was not having had backed up about 1 years worth of photographs on my computer, although there are some other locations where I have access to a small portion of them.

When Zakir persuaded me to purchase a MacBook about one year ago, I was skeptical, mostly due to the cost of the hardware. I have used an iPhone and iPad for years, but have historically had a PC and not a Mac laptop. But I agreed to take the plunge and have enjoyed learning about the Apple operating system. Now, after seeing how the devices can communicate with each other, particularly after retrieving my stolen computer, any question about going back to using a PC in the future has been completely erased. No doubt I'll be a Mac gal from here on.

Of all laptop computers that are stolen, only 3% of them are ever recovered. I wonder how many of those are Macbooks? Probably a good number. My computer definitely beat the odds, thanks to a little technology know-how on my part, and a very tech savvy husband! Yes Zakir, I admit you were right!

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