[clug] [OT] Tracking a stolen laptop

David Adams u2552331 at anu.edu.au
Wed May 28 13:31:09 GMT 2008

Hey Alastair,

I had my laptop stolen earlier on in the year so I know what you're 
going through! I didn't have the stroke of luck you've apparently had 

You might already know the following, but they're my suggestions anyway.

One thing you might want to do is to, if you have it, provide the mac 
address of the stolen laptop to the police as well- as well all know, IP 
addresses are not a unique identifier, so having some additional proof 
that it was your laptop might be useful. As would any serial numbers, 
receipts, etc you might have- even simple things like the contents of 
your hard drive. If they're your stereotypical thuggish idiots they 
probably just want to sell it or use it for themselves, so they probably 
won't put much data on the hard drive- if they do manage to format it, 
they probably won't zero the hard drive or anything, so you might be 
able to recover the data... again, further proof. Check the local pawn 
shops every few days- it'll probably turn up there. If you have proof of 
ownership, and I mean receipts + serial number + model number + the 
works, you'll probably get it back.

Other options: find out if Grapevine customers have static IP addresses 
and use that to help track down the thief. Your standard internet tools 
(Whois, tracert, etc) can reveal a fair bit about an IP address. Also, 
once you have it, you might be able to SSH in remotely if you have that 
capability and they don't have a firewall- I remember a neat story about 
a Mac user who used Mac's built in remote-desktop equivalent, then used 
the built in webcam to take a picture of the thief, then transferred it 
back to themselves and took that to the police... turns out it was one 
of the usual suspects and they promptly arrested him. Even engaging the 
internal microphone every laptop seems to have these days is a useful 
tool- you might pick up on something, even an unrelated conversation, 
which would help you. I hardly think they'll be squealing about privacy 
concerns- it's YOUR laptop!

You mentioned Vista- if it's a Windows operating system, you can try 
remote desktop, but that might boot them off and alert them that 
something's going on. Also, usually that's disabled by default over the 

Just throwing out suggestions... and the best of luck!



Alastair D'Silva wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> If anyone here works at Grapevine Internet, can you please contact me off
> list?
> I had a laptop stolen on the 16th. It is very fussy about what it boots from
> as there is no internal DVD drive, and it won't boot from USB, so you have
> to jump through hoops if you wanted to rebirth it.
> On the 20th, a Grapevine customer hit our website, looking for information
> on how to reinstall Vista on it (my wife's website ranks #3 on Google for
> that search), which looks extremely suspicious given how rare this laptop
> is.
> I have passed the IP addresses & logs on to the police, but in the meantime,
> I would like to ensure that the information matching the user to the IP
> address does not get deleted before the police are in contact.
> I'll call Grapevine themselves in the morning, but until then, if anyone can
> help, please get in touch.
> Cheers,

More information about the linux mailing list