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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Tech Gear From Smash-and-Grab Theft?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the disguise-as-a-tape-deck dept.

Crime 514

rstory writes "I seem to be hearing about more smash and grab thefts lately, from low-tech purse snatching to thieves after laptops and cameras. Bold thieves are even snatching stuff in church/day-care parking lots in the 5 minute window while a parent goes in to pick up their child. I often drive around with my laptop, and want to find the best way to protect against theft. Besides the obvious 'don't leave equipment in the car' solution, what else are people doing? Right now I just use a regular backpack instead of a fancy laptop case. I don't have a trunk, so when I leave the car I put the backpack on the floor of the back seat, sometimes throwing other junk on top. The only interesting thing I've found while googling is a couple of 'anti-theft' backpacks which have wire mesh to prevent cutting them open and a (thin looking) cable for securing to a stationary object. What do you do to protect your gear?"

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514 comments

you can track your laptops (4, Informative)

adeelarshad82 (1482093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384742)

Well for laptops you can install software that can help you track your laptop or protect your files from a remote location. There are ton of them out there, listed in the article below http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387748,00.asp [pcmag.com]

Re:you can track your laptops (4, Funny)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384852)

There are a lot of articles about this, and probably suit his needs.

I'm waiting to see someone combine these remote tracking and accessibility methods with semtex and finishing nails packed in the old optical drive bay.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Funny)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385134)

I'm waiting to see someone combine these remote tracking and accessibility methods with semtex and finishing nails packed in the old optical drive bay.

As a fun bonus, your vacations just became a lot more interesting.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Insightful)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384872)

What happens when the perp wipes the hard drive? Barring some BIOS magic, your software just disappears. That's the first thing I do when I steal laptops.

Re:you can track your laptops (1)

adeelarshad82 (1482093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384944)

Well, the location can be tracked from the second it laptop is turned on and since wiping a laptop isn't instantaneous it gives you a (very) small window to track the culprit. Plus i'm assuming most people don't even expect a a tracking software on the device to being with. So in most cases you should get lucky.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Insightful)

dysan27 (913206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384976)

The location can be tracked as soon as your OS loads, you can wipe a laptop without ever loading the OS

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385002)

Well, the location can be tracked from the second it laptop is turned on and since wiping a laptop isn't instantaneous it gives you a (very) small window to track the culprit.

How does it do this with no Internet and booting from a system recovery disk? It is only helpful to catch the stupid criminals. Admittedly, that is most of them.

But it does nothing for the real problem. You now need a new window and backpack. The only good solution is to avoid the smash...

Re:you can track your laptops (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385028)

Unless you take the HD out and replace it with a clean one...

Re:you can track your laptops (4, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385242)

Unless you take the HD out and replace it with a clean one...

LoJack for Laptops has code in the firmware of most laptops that allows it to persist across a hard drive swap.

Re:you can track your laptops (3, Insightful)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385030)

You're assuming the perp plugs in the laptop to his network. Why would he do that? Network access isn't needed when wiping laptops. Just pop in a bootable CD or USB flash drive, wait a few minutes, and laptop has been wiped.

Re:you can track your laptops (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385046)

and the damage is already done if the lappie is on the run.
of course you could just use kensington to lock it. but that would be stupid.

the right solution is to put the shit in the trunk before you start your journey.

Re:you can track your laptops (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385096)

the right solution is to put the shit in the trunk before you start your journey.

Guy in TFS says he doesn't have a trunk. I'd probably just take the backpack with me if I was that bothered.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385144)

What happens when the perp wipes the hard drive? Barring some BIOS magic, your software just disappears

LoJack for Laptops has code in the firmware of all of the major laptop manufacturers. The code is dormant, but wakes up when you install the product. Once activated, the code checks for the presence of the LoJack agent on the hard drive and replaces it if it's removed or if it's been tampered with. It will survived an OS re-install, hard drive wipe - Even a hard drive swap.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385218)

My work laptop drive is encrypted. We consider the data far more valuable than the hardware, and they can have it.

My personal tablet notebook has the TPC engaged, and without the drive (which is unique and expensive) it's worthless. If I'm at all competent as a thief, I know this and avoid that model and those similar. The meth heads aren't, so I would probably check CL and find it for sale in a day or so. Ring ring.

In fact, my work notebook, when it is replaced, is essentially scrap. We have to shred the drives, rendering the rest of it worth zilch. Kinda sad.

Personally, I would bolt an eye to a seat, use a Kensington cable, and if it is really that bad thread the cable through the bag onto the notebook. This is mostly to slow down a thief, and leave you with a broken window instead. First step is to camo the bag, either slipping it under a seat or behind something innocuous. In the convertible you can hardly see my bag. In the Explorer, slipping it under a rear seat makes it virtually invisible also. Anyone who sees me do that of course knows the trick, but that's an even smaller window of opportunity. A decent car alarm will help some, but your window is busted anyways. LoJack for laptops sounds good until you find out it's in India.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Interesting)

S810 (168676) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385006)

I work for a Major Bank and we have BiOS "Magic" that will track the Wi-Fi Card MAC, HDD MAC and MB MAC regardless of how many times the HDD is wiped. We have made it so it would be more expensive to replace all of those parts than it would be buy a new laptop. It works as we have laptops stolen all the time and find them with the help of local law enforcement.

The Caveat is that it has to be on a the internet for us to track it. So if someone wants it to just be a local word processor to print to a local printer we will never know about it.

Re:you can track your laptops (5, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385104)

Slightly more low-tech, but giving the same idea of 'make it trackable' is Stuffbak [stuffbak.com] . It's just a (hard to remove) sticker, but it means you can prove a specific device is yours.

But none of this is prevention. If you can't hide it and you can't lock it, take it with you.

Re:you can track your laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385120)

Wait, how do you find the MAC address over the internet? I understand if they plugged it into a local network, but i assume most criminals would not plug it into your bank's network after stealing it.

Re:you can track your laptops (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385248)

I work for a Major Bank and we have BiOS "Magic" that will track the Wi-Fi Card MAC, HDD MAC and MB MAC regardless of how many times the HDD is wiped. We have made it so it would be more expensive to replace all of those parts than it would be buy a new laptop.

That's not a bad option, but of course flashing the BIOS isn't expensive at all, and it's easy enough to do that a smart thief or (less oxymoronic) a smart fence can do it in 10 minutes.

Re:you can track your laptops (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385020)

Even if it works, you still need to replace a window.

Take valuables with you. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384774)

If I park somewhere that has a reasonable chance of a smash-and-grab, I take valuables with me.

Period.

Who cares if it's locked down to something, if it looks like there is something valuable in the car, it's going to get broken in to. And if they can't take the thing they really want, they'll likely do extra damage, just because.

Other than that, I try to avoid leaving my car in locations that I worry about its safety.

Re:Take valuables with you. (4, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384830)

I agree completely.

If you do have to leave the stuff in the car, seems to me that you should put it in whatever area of the car is safe and bury it *when you leave*, not when you arrive. In my mind nothing would say "there's valuables here" than futzing around with those things at the destination.

Re:Take valuables with you. (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384834)

Yup, just take it with you. If you can't take it with you, put it in the boot (trunk) - much harder to smash and grab from the boot, and the thief has to take a chance on there being something in there rather than scoping out the back seats of all the cars around yours.

The passenger compartment of both my cars is kept pretty spotless - there is nothing there for a thief to take a chance on, and you would be surprised just how low value something needs to be for the chance to be taken. Remove all temptation, don't just hide the high value stuff under low value temptation.

Re:Take valuables with you. (2)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384914)

Automotive window film is also a good solution in some occasions. It holds the window glass together when broken, making it more difficult to the robber to smash the window open.

Re:Take valuables with you. (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385170)

Tinted film also adds a basic advantage in that it's difficult to see inside the car to begin with in terms of making out individual objects.

Re:Take valuables with you. (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384934)

If you can't take it with you, put it in the boot (trunk) - much harder to smash and grab from the boot,

I don't know where you got that idea.
Trunk locks are utter crap and trunk latches are just as bad.
Not to mention that they can just smash a window and pull the trunk release.

All things being equal, you should prefer someone smashing a window
and pulling the trunk release instead of prying open your trunk with a crowbar.

Re:Take valuables with you. (4, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384968)

Rather than a crowbar to pry open the trunk, instead they use a dent puller to remove the trunk lock.

Re:Take valuables with you. (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385174)

Sounds like cars are better built for the European market... Boot locks on all cars I have owned have been secure, and very few cars I have owned have had a boot release in the passenger compartment (I'm not saying they don't exist, but out of my seven cars, only one has had one) - normally it's either a manual release on the boot itself, or you have to use the key to pop it.

The main thing about sticking stuff in the boot is that it's out of sight - how many thieves will attack the boot on the off chance when there's other cars...?

Re:Take valuables with you. (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384942)

much harder to smash and grab from the boot

I can't speak for outside the US, but most cars have a button in the glove box that when pushed open a locked trunk, if you smash a window to get in to grab something smashing the windows and pushing the button to open the trunk is not that much more difficult.

I get on my wife all the time for leaving things visible in her vehicle, to the point that I nearly yell at her for leaving a quarter visible. If they want it they will break a window, I'd hate to spend a hundred or so dollars to replace a window over a freakin quarter.

Re:Take valuables with you. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385222)

As noted above, most of the cars in my ownership history haven't had a boot release in the passenger compartment, and that's in the European market.

Get a dog? (5, Funny)

ion++ (134665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384778)

Get a dog and keep it in the car.

Re:Get a dog? (5, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384860)

What you need is a trunk monkey.

Re:Get a dog? (5, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384862)

This is not useful in hot weather. it may be illegal.

To fight the gas theft on the other hand, I keep two gas cans in the shed. I've had the shed broken into and stuff stolen. One nearly empty can has gas. It is a 5 gallon can with no more than 2 gallons in it. The other full can has sugar, water, and gas, lite on the gas. Just enough to provide the proper smell.

Not sure how to do this with a laptop though.

Re:Get a dog? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385056)

One nearly empty can has gas. It is a 5 gallon can with no more than 2 gallons in it. The other full can has sugar, water, and gas, lite on the gas. Just enough to provide the proper smell.

Where is "+1 Fucking Brilliant!" when you need it?

Re:Get a dog? (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385064)

That's cruel. And funny.

Re:Get a dog? (3, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385190)

Solution for the laptop is Windows ME

Re:Get a dog? (5, Insightful)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384866)

My dog would fiercely defend my car to his death. I'd much rather just lose the laptop.

Re:Get a dog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384906)

And then get your chihuahua stolen :)

Stated Obvious (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384792)

I do have a trunk... so I throw it in there. Beyond that I minimize the impact of it getting stolen by using full disk encryption.

Does your car not have any kind of lockable storage (actually what kind of car is this anywayno trunk?). If so, put it in there, otherwise you could always buy a jewellery safe and have a friend who is good with tools weld it to the floor, roof, or remove one of the seats and put the safe there. You could also keep your laptop and GPS and other gear in a hardened suitcase handcuffed to your wrist at all times

Re:Stated Obvious (3, Insightful)

MitchDev (2526834) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384882)

A ridiculous number of compact and subcompact cars have no trunk these days, they are glorified hatchbacks in effect. Although minivans and SUVsgenerally don't have trunks either....

Re:Stated Obvious (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384904)

Really, you want lockable and opaque storage. Many SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, station wagons and hatchbacks have storage you can lock, but since it's in the cabin there are also windows on the area.

Re:Stated Obvious (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385156)

It's not a perfect solution, but many SUVs and hatchbacks have an opaque retractable cover that you can pull over the storage area. Keeps your stuff out of the sun as well.

You don't have to run faster than the bear, only faster than your nearby friends. Likewise, just making your car less of a target than the one next to it helps.

Re:Stated Obvious (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384962)

As an example, I have a GMC Safari, no lockable storage in it.
Hatchbacks might have similar issues.

Simple (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384810)

I don't leave it in my car. And when I leave it in my work vehicle, it's locked in a floor safe because it's work related and the company paid for it.

No, seriously, don't leave stuff in your car (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384814)

Not even pocket change, any incentive for a thief to break your window and score something of even minimal value is going be motivation for someone weak eventually.

If you are really concerned, take the extra minute or two and lock your valuables away in your trunk or glovebox. Out of sight, out of mind.

550 Amp Truck Battery connected to metal briefcase (4, Funny)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384816)

...holding laptop, make sure to solder an unobtrusive on/off switch someplace you can reach but non-obvious on the briefcase (or connected to the briefcase by wire.

Fun! :)

(I had a friend who did something similar to the hood ornament of his Dad's Mercedes during the 80's when everyone was stealing them.)

Re:550 Amp Truck Battery connected to metal briefc (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384854)

To keep things legit... Put a high voltage label on it.

Re:550 Amp Truck Battery connected to metal briefc (2)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385118)

12 Volts at 550 Amps wouldn't even go through your skin. Needs to be closer to 48 Volts. If you converted to AC and added a transformer, ~100 amps could be delivered. If you wanted to be lazy, a good inverter will also do the trick. Just make sure and bridge all fuses (check inside, too!)

Stupid. (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385194)

550 Amp Truck Battery connected to metal briefcase ...

I suspect that would earn you multiple broken windows, taillights, headlights, slashed tires, and key scratches everywhere from the attempt. Or maybe they'd just torch it.

No technological solution for stupidity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384818)

>>I don't have a trunk, so when I leave the car I put the backpack on the floor of the back seat, sometimes throwing other junk on top.

Seriously? You expect technology to solve this?

Sorry to be so blunt with the title, but that sums it up. If you don't want your shit stolen, don't leave it laying around for an opportunistic thief.

Take your stuff with you.

Re:No technological solution for stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385116)

Yeah, especially when he says it's in a backpack, which (unlike many cheap one-strap laptop bags) is comfortable to wear for arbitrary periods.

Some ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384840)

Some ideas:
- Best solution is obviously to not leave it in the vehicle. Theives cannot take what is not there and no solution will be this good.
- Any visible "bag" type of thing is a red flag. So if you leave your bag in there, whatever it looks like, hide it. Put something over it, a blanket, etc. Put it on the floor of the backseat. Helps if your car looks messy and has a lot of junk.
- Laptop might be safer in the trunk than in the back set. You can also install a bolted-to-the-frame metal lockbox in the trunk which would increase the time to steal needed significantly (if you pick a good lock) and may protect valuable cargo from accidents and weather as well.
- If you can fit it where your spare tire is stowed, if it is inside the vehicle, might not be a bad idea to put it there. Smasher and grabbers won't look there.
- Hide it IN the seat. Gouge out a flat, horizontal slot to put your laptop in and create a nice-looking cover.
- Research drug cartels and how they stow things.
- Strap it to the inside of the hood somehow, but this will be difficult.

Re:Some ideas (5, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385070)

Surprised nobody else has said it, but it also helps if you have a piece-of-junk car. People don't expect to find anything worth stealing if you have visible rust and dents on a 10-year-old Ford or Saturn. I've never had a car broken into, and I frequently leave (small amounts of) cash in plain sight and a backpack with a laptop in the back seat.

cucurucho in the space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384844)

close the car doors before leaving? hehe

I live in a third world country, and shadowed windows and a good alarm are a must for this reason. Also, anti-theft laminated windows help a lot.

Use a secure storage vault (2)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384846)

like to those used for firearms by people who carry concealed weapons when they're forced to leave their sidearm in their vehicle (e.g., when dropping by the post office or a bank).

http://www.google.com/?q=vehicle+firearms+safe [google.com]

William

Never leave your backback (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384848)

I never leave my backpack, and have never been robbed although I usually travel to "interesting" countries, and stay in "interesting" places.
But I would always refuse to leave my computer in a car, including in the trunk, if I'm not ready to carry it with me at all time I keep it at home.

The best solution (1)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384850)

Get a Trunk Monkey..
http://youtu.be/geynA-JYDHE

Remove spare tire, lock and hide case there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384856)

I have a Pelican case to carry my laptop in, but if I was really worried, I would rather call a tow truck in the case of a major flat tire (you can get the fix a flat stuff in a can), than lose a laptop.

I have two pad locks and eye-bolts on my subwoofer box since it was stolen before.

I have bolted down my amp with a 1" piece of flat steel over it.

Re:Remove spare tire, lock and hide case there. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384970)

That's an excellent idea, but make sure your equipment is actually worth more than a wrecker call! Those can be a few hundred bucks nowadays.

People often leave their spare on TOP of the spare compartment, so you could do that too. Have a sloppy trunk and it won't look interesting.

Strong Box (2)

Tufriast (824996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384864)

GPS beaconed and battery-backuped/powered strong box hardwired into your car's battery and built into its frame is the most definitive solution. Throw some biometric thumbprint scanning and numeric passcode locking if you really want to go overboard. This is an expensive solution though. ($10K plus to start with.) If you are driving a car without a trunk, upgrade your car for maximum protection. You set priorities in life, so you decide how secure your want your setup. I think that you could suffice with a small strong box with lock, key, and tumbler code and some degree of heft to it. Perhaps 35 pounds or more. This would deter speed and swiftness.

Use a Diaper Bag (5, Funny)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384870)

It's an old photographer's trick to keep gear in a diaper bag. Nobody wants to go near that (literal) shit.

my solution (3, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384878)

When I was carrying my laptop around in a slim jacket instead of backpack, I'd just put it under the floor mat on the passenger front side.

Nothing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384888)

Make sure it is covered by auto/home-owner/renter insurance and back-up regularly.

Missing details (4, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384890)

rstory, as the submitter of this question, you neglected to provide a link to yourself and your /. profile [slashdot.org] doesn't seem very informative.

Can you please give us a few details. Particularly, oh I dunno, maybe some info on where you like to park your car? Thanks!!

P.S. FYI, you can post stories as ac.

get a car with a trunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384898)

Its been said many times that people will vary rarely try to steal something they do not see. Even if the trunk is unlockable from inside the car, its very unlikely that someone will try to break in to see if there is anything in the trunk. Crimes like this are about numbers. You don't need to be secure, just more secure than the other cars around you.

Plus getting things in and out of trunk are easy with modern (last 10 years or so) cars that have remote open on the trunk.

A simple tactic... (1)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384902)

is to put medium sized valuables under the seats. The cars I drive usually have that space and it's almost impossible to actually see if there's something down there. Some laptops may or may not fit down there. You'll have to test it. There's always a chance to kick the equipment so if it's something really sensitive I would advise against it.

Before you get in the car (5, Insightful)

haystor (102186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384910)

If I'm going around with my laptop, I put it in the inconspicuous place in my car *before* I get in my car. Not after I've stopped and everyone nearby can see that I'm hiding something valuable.

Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384916)

What do you mean "you don't have a trunk". What the hell do you drive that has no trunk of any kind? Even hatchbacks have storage spaces in the rear you could add a false floor to...

Re:Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384984)

Pickup truck?

Re:Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385008)

Smart Cars

http://www.smartusa.com

Re:Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385024)

That's a good point, and the spare tire well could easily be fitted with a locking cover plate. A hasp and padlock would do.

Cover with carpet, leave spare tire on top.

Re:Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385034)

What do you mean "you don't have a trunk". What the hell do you drive that has no trunk of any kind? Even hatchbacks have storage spaces in the rear you could add a false floor to...

I'm guessing it's a pickup truck. So here's one idea: Get one of those lock boxes like construction workers use for their tools.

Re:Forgive the obvious question - no trunk? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385182)

Uh, a station wagon? Jeep? Pickup truck?

NRA sticker on your back window (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384926)

Not that I like the NRA but a GOA sticker doesn't have the same brand recognition.

Re:NRA sticker on your back window (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385054)

Yeah, but which would someone rather steal from your car? A laptop or a gun?

Re:NRA sticker on your back window (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385100)

Put it right next to the Fraternal Order of Police sticker?

Personalize it (3, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384930)

It is a lot harder to sell a laptop covered in stickers and scratches than it is to sell a laptop that is in mint condition.

It might not look professional, but that is kinda the point.

Is this a tech question? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384954)

This seems like a strange question. It seems like the best policy is to assume there's nothing special about your laptop or any other tech gear and just treat it as if it was a woman's purse. What do you do to keep anything from being stolen?

The bottom line is that most petty crimes are crimes of opportunity. "I was just standing there watching videos on my iPhone, not paying any attention to my surroundings, and a guy ran up and grabbed it out of my hand. Can you believe it? What's this country coming to?"

Here's one idea: Use a laptop cable to lock your laptop to the steering wheel (or something else) when you leave the car. The catch: Nobody will expect you to do that, so they'll still smash your car window before they realize the laptop is locked. Works great if you're OK with paying for a smashed window.

If you must leave it in your car (1)

RPGillespie (2478442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384958)

You could always buy a laptop lock and tether it to a fixed piece of metal in the car. The thief would then either have to break the laptop or bring along bolt cutters. Why bring along your laptop, though, if you're just going to leave it in the car?

BACK pack (1)

dynamic_cast (250615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384964)

I put the pack on my back whenever I get out of the car.

I've always wanted to booby trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384966)

In my life, I've had 2 stereos stolen from my cars. After the first caused about $1000 damage to the dash to remove a cheap $100 stereo, I learned to NOT bolt the stereos in place. The second only cost me a window....and a stereo.

I've always wanted to do this, but legal issues prevent it.

What if stealing a stereo/laptop/camera might be deadly? I always thought it would be rather easy to build the electronic components necessary to trigger a detonator once it's a certain distance from the vehicle (say 300 feet). Someone steals the dummy device from your car, and when they get down the street - it kills them...and whoever they're with.

I would be willing to bet that the theft rate would plummet.

Lock your doors? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384986)

Women don't leave their purse in their car if they are worried about a smash and grab (at least smart women don't). Why do you think you can leave your laptop safely? Unless you are looking for solutions along the lines of the trunk money or connecting a car battery to it, what do you expect us to say? It's like asking "how do I secure my wireless network without requiring MAC filters or a passcode to connect?"

3 ways (2)

mseeger (40923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385016)

1. Eliminate risk: Don't leave anything in the car or leave your vicious dog in there...
2. Mitigate risk: Encrypt drives, backup often, insure financial loss
3. Security theater: Put everything in the trunk or leave it under the seat

Full disk encryption and insurance... (2)

cavtroop (859432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385050)

beyond the obvious 'dont park where you're likely to get broken into', fully encrypting your drive and getting insurance (auto or home should cover it) is the most reasonable thing to do. Phone-home software may or may not work - frankly, I don't bother. Just encrypt and have offsite backups of the important stuff. Take the insurance payout and replace.

how to protect your gear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385058)

Don't leave it unattended in public?

Remember... (4, Interesting)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385062)

Most thieves are opportunists, and unless they've been watching you and really, really, REALLY want what you've got, then simply locking the car securely is your best bet.

The other night, I was walking home (about 11:30pm, through East London), and there was a guy walking toward me. He was testing the door handles of each car he passed, until finally one opened. He took the stuff out that he found, throwing some of it away and pocketing whatever else it was he got.

I stood staring at him as he did this, quite incredulous that he would do this right in front of me, and he just looked at me and said, "Well, should've locked their car, shouldn't they?" and walked off, carrying on.

I didn't do anything because this was a very tall bloke, and was probably carrying a knife. I didn't call the police either, since, this being East London, he was no doubt part of a gang and knowing my luck I'd walk into him the following week.

So, lock your car and don't keep anything of value on show. Thieves won't smash EVERY car they come to - only the ones they know they can get stuff out of.

garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385082)

A light layer of empty fast food wrappers on all the floors will do it. There won't even be any attempt for the trunk.

Always make sure there's a little rust on the body of the car.

If a crack in a window can stay small, keep it.

If your trunk is inaccessible from the cabin, keep all your doors visibly unlocked, and a couple of windows down.

park crookedly

Change you alarm to someone actually yelling something instead of a standard alarm.

Don't put all your secrets about this subject on slashdot.

watch robocop.

My take (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385084)

Go too Goodwill, grab a ratty looking Barney the Dinosaur. Cut a hole and insert.

Drop leg gas mask pouch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385090)

If you've got a netbook or a tablet, consider a drop leg gas mask pouch [google.com] . You'll want to check that the dimensions are large enough for your device of course, but I'm ordering one for my netbook.

I take the train a lot. If I get up to go to the restroom or the cafe car, I don't want to leave my netbook at my seat (everyone around me knows I have one because I've been using it). It's took big to stuff into my pocket, and it's a pain to have to pack it back up in the laptop bag and then take that with me, so I'm hoping the gas mask pouch will work better.

It's better than a fanny pack. People laugh at you for wearing those (and rightly so). But no one's going to give me grief if I'm wearing a gas mask pouch.

That said, I'll be a little wary the first time I try using it at the airport. I know they make "tactical" handgun holsters in a similar style, and besides, I'm sure there's going to be at least one "security" person who's going to wonder why I'm at the airport with a gas mask strapped to my leg, but what can you do?

At least aviod the smash (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385110)

If you're going to insist on Besides the obvious , then the best that I can offer you is to leave the car unlocked, and protect the windows by leaving them wound down into the door where they may be safer. That way the thief might not break a $300 window while grabbing a $99 GPS (or even a few lose CDs, or change, or other shiny objects). Thieves sometimes steal cars by "popping the ignition", using a large screwdriver or similar pry-bar to break the lock. So I'll also suggest that you can prevent the expense of a broken ignition lock by gluing something into the keyhole where they would normally try to insert the screwdriver, blocking it. I suggest gluing in the original key.

Lock box bolted to the floor (2)

Quadropleen+ (79170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385130)

I have a similar problem. I drive a club cab pickup truck, so I don't have a trunk. What I did was I bought a First Alert Electronic Digital Security Lockbox model 3040DF. I found it at my local national hardware chain (the ornge one, not the blue one) on sale for $40. I bolted it to the floor in the back seat. It would be a bear to take the whole thing out.

You have it in a backpack (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385132)

But want to leave it in the car.. why even bother with the backpack if you arent going to really go crazy and put it on your back.

Save the money for your next replacement.

Succumb to paranoia (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385140)

They've already won, man. They've already won. Next it's going to be the government after your children, and before you know it you'll be making posts that sound like they're coming from For A Free Internet [slashdot.org] .

Basement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385154)

I never leave mom's basement and there are bars on the windows. My stuff is safe!

Giant Dirty Granny Panties! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385158)

Cheap security solution when in the car - giant slightly soiled granny panties laying atop the laptop bag. NO ONE ever wants to touch dirty underwear in a hot car. Worked for two decades, so far. (and no, i'm a guy, they aren't mine - try a thrift store.)

Protecting my gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385178)

I hug it close and whisper "my preciouuussss" ....

A James Bond car (1)

sarbonn (1796548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385184)

While it's not feasible and would be massively expensive, I'd love to have James Bond's car from For Your Eyes Only that blew up when someone tried to smash his window, killing the bad guy in the process. Granted, I'd probably be put in jail for life for it, but that would be the last smash and grab he'd ever do.

You need a designer bag.. really (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385188)

You need to design your own theft proof bag.

Ingredients:

1) shock ball
https://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/games/91b8/ [thinkgeek.com]

2) sound activated switch, or remote control key fob
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&cp=15&gs_id=4t&xhr=t&q=sound+activated&tok=cfDqh3Z4o5al7PvFQnbO6A&newwindow=1&safe=off&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1158&bih=1045&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=4723724170775609297&sa=X&ei=2y7qTuy_FurL0QHZx83ICQ&sqi=2&ved=0CEsQ8wIwAQ [google.com]

3) small high current battery with 12v dc charger to power the above two circuits

4) Some wire mesh, or thin wire to thread through the knapsack and straps. Note: A good connection to the metal zipper is essential.

While this home brew device, like your theft deterrent bag idea, will not prevent a thief from smashing through your car window to open the door, it will be quite entertaining to the people passing by, and present an event that they might actually take note of and thus produce viable witnesses. Add a motion activated video camera to your car dash if you want to watch for yourself. I bet the video would go viral on Youtube and you will quickly identify the culprit.

I have the answer! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385202)

I repair for a living and always have a few laptops in the car and what not. So, I do take some precautions that seem to be working for me. So, Here are some of my tricks.

1. Take some card board or paper and make a sign that says something like "Jim, Just throw this laptop out the motherboard is shot". Or similar and put it on the laptop in the car. They will see that and think "why bother?".

2. I have all kinds of wrappers/garbage in the back seat. Just put your valuables underneath it all. Also, Dont drive a really nice car for those in the repair field. A junker car with garbage in the back seat is not worth breaking into.

Some friends of mine that lived in NY during a garbage strike used to put their garbage in a box and wrap it up in holiday wrapping paper and leave the back door unlocked . Worked like a charm to get rid of their garbage!

It's obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385214)

Trunk Monkey!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee3L9BQQ4Gs

Just give it to them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385216)

A friend of mine was shot in the face for her Macbook Pro after the perps observed her locking her laptop bag in the trunk of her car. They were casing cars to rob and they knew the bag was worth it. The police arrested one of them later, and he told them that the only reason she died was because she made it hard for them. If she had not locked her laptop in the trunk, she would probably still be alive today. All they cared about was they had a drug habit to feed and she got in the way.

A similar event happened in London where a group of criminals broke into someone's house. She didn't have any valuables worth stealing, and she had made it difficult for them, so in retaliation they put her pet cat in the microwave and turned it on.

Criminals only care about the money. It's not worth your life. Just give them what they want and move on. If you make it hard for them, they just use more violence until they get what they want. You can't possibly win, or even break even. The only thing you can do is surrender.

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