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Stolen Laptop Calls In! - Will Police Act?

Cliff posted about 8 years ago


broswell asks: "We rent computer equipment and occasionally our equipment gets stolen. I wrote a little VBS script that calls our webserver every hour (script below) and installed it on our laptops. Sure enough, some laptops went missing. One of the stolen laptops is now calling in from a Verizon Internet account which appears to be in a neighboring town. The Baltimore City Police grudgingly filled out a police report 'so we could collect insurance' but don't seem willing to subpoena Verizon, find the address of the end user, recover tha laptop and prosecute the thief. They seem clueless. The Maryland State police has a computer crimes unit. The have a clue, but they claim they don't have jurisdiction. It is not about the money (our customer signed for the computers and will pay for the stolen items), we just want justice." With all of the necessary information in hand of the proper authorities, how likely is it that the stolen laptop will be recovered?

For those interested, here is the script the laptop used to report itself back to its owners:

Set objShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
Set objScriptExec = objShell.Exec("ipconfig /all")
strIpConfig = objScriptExec.StdOut.ReadAll
myvar = "send=" + strIpConfig

do until 0=1
on error resume next
WScript.Sleep 3600000


Function HTTPPost(sUrl, sRequest)
set oHTTP = CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP") "POST", sUrl,false
oHTTP.setRequestHeader "Content-Type", "application/x-www-form-urlencoded"
oHTTP.setRequestHeader "Content-Length", Len(sRequest)
oHTTP.send sRequest

HTTPPost = oHTTP.responseText
End Function

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Media (4, Insightful)

MeanMF (631837) | about 8 years ago | (#15942546)

If the police won't do anything, call the local press.

Re:Media (3, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 8 years ago | (#15942654)

Good idea, but wrong order. Give Verizon a chance to be the good guy. Call their publicity department first. If they make excuses, then call local media.

RE:Great Idea see current Discovery Times MS ad (-1, Offtopic)

callingalloldhippies (962071) | about 8 years ago | (#15942790)

Sat. 8p.m. pac. USA On Discovery Times T.V.
Amazing timeing! Not ten minutes ago I just saw a Dear MicroSoft video of a scribe(user) with feather pen writing a parchment complaint letter re: uninstalls and ? dlls ? that may or may not be needed elsewhere for something I may or may not even have or use. Perfect! wish I remembered if it was for some product or...? Hope someone else saw it. Way too cool!
A smart Company could make good use of an agency that pursued something like this.

Re:Media (4, Insightful)

ryanr (30917) | about 8 years ago | (#15942796)

Yeah, I'm sure no one will mind if Verizon gives out customer info without a subpoena. A phone company would only do that kind of thing under rare circumstances.

Re:Media (1)

XO (250276) | about 8 years ago | (#15942886)

Someone from Verizon could call the police and let them know that they have reason to believe that stolen hardware is operating from such and such a place.

Re:Media (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942922)

Someone from Verizon could call the police and let them know that they have reason to believe that stolen hardware is operating from such and such a place.

Just because some guy phoned them up and said so? The correct course here is for either the police or the shop to get a subpoena for the information. Otherwise Verizon should protect their customers' confidentiality.

It's been 36 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Chances are, you're behind a firewall or proxy, or clicked the Back button to accidentally reuse a form. Please try again. If the problem persists, and all other options have been tried, contact the site administrator.

Why would not posting for half an hour mean I'm using a firewall? I mean, yes I am using a firewall, but why should that even be an issue? This is ridiculous.

Re:Media (1)

XO (250276) | about 8 years ago | (#15942953)

i'm just saying that if you could get someone at Verizon to care, then it could happen.

Re:Media (1)

ryanr (30917) | about 8 years ago | (#15942968)

That's a fair suggestion, depending on Verizon's policies. As long as there is a case number, Verizon could contact the police and provide info.

laughable hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942904)

Isn't Verison one of the companies that turned over customer records to the DoJ WITHOUT a warrant? And now they won't cooperate with a theft case... ...I say screw them. Call the local papers, call air america radio (Rachel Maddow and Rhandy Rhodes will snap this up), and get some SPOTLIGHT on this example of corporate hypocrisy! If Verison's stock tanks because of it...GOOD! The company MUST be held accountable for it's actions.

Re:Media (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942807)

Good idea, but wrong order. Give Verizon a chance to be the good guy. Call their publicity department first. If they make excuses, then call local media.

Why do I get the feeling that you think "being the good guy" equates to giving out their customers' private data without a court order? It really isn't their job to substantiate the cover story or judge their customers. We have courts for that.

Going through the police is the right way. If they're not doing their job, then publicise that fact. If the shop wants an alternative then they should talk to a lawyer about the possibility of suing the John Doe for something (trespass to property?) and getting a court to order Verizon to provide details that way.

Got supoena? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942907)

"Give Verizon a chance to be the good guy. Call their publicity department first. If they make excuses, then call local media."

Hi. I'm not sure which country you hail from, but here in the United States we have something called "due process". Verizon has to receive a supoena before disclosing that type of information. Does not matter how much a company wants to be the "good guy".

If they don't, they end up on the front page of the NY Times....

Re:Got supoena? (2, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | about 8 years ago | (#15943044)

You are quite correct, a subpoena is the ticket. But it's very easy to get this kind of info in the context of a court case, even a civil case. See Here [] .

search warrant or it won't happen (1)

agent00013 (45445) | about 8 years ago | (#15943006)

As sad as it might be, the phone companies never release any information about a phone number, internet connection, or anything else without a search warrant. There are too many lawsuits and too much risk involved for the phone companies to give out information like this, even to law enforcement, without the appropriate legal paperwork to cover themselves.

Re:search warrant or it won't happen (2, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | about 8 years ago | (#15943041)

As sad as it might be, the phone companies never release any information about a phone number, internet connection, or anything else without a search warrant.

Oh, no, the phone companies would never disclose anything to anyone without a warrant! [] Haven't kept up on the news much lately, have you? :-)

I'd say if the guy called 'em up and told 'em he was NSA, he'd have a 50-50 shot at getting the info.


Re:Media (5, Insightful)

Mr. Byaninch (837872) | about 8 years ago | (#15942658)

I agree. Police aren't very receptive to ordinary citizens solving crimes and then asking the cops to finish the job. I had a friend who had a check stolen from a USPS blue mailbox. The thieves 'washed' the check and rewrote it for enough to cover a bunch of Gateway computers. Gateway had some problem (that I don't recall) with something that was on back order and called the phone number on the order, which (dumb criminals) was the same as on the check. My friend already had found out a check had been hijacked when other stuff started bouncing. So she got the shipping info - address, tracking # and date - and then took it to the cops. All they had to do was go to the address and arrest whoever accepted the package. Guess if they did. NOT. All they did was 'take a crime report'.

Cops are probably offended when citizens bring them solved crimes. They're a strange bunch. Anyone who knows one will confirm that. Unless that someone is dating or married to one, in which case that someone is also a strange one. :)

So I agree. Go the police first, and when they won't 'solve' the crime, tell the media. A local news channel's 'Consumer Watchdog' or whatever they're called in your town is the best bet. It's not really news for the normal broadcast, but it's juicy stuff for those 'we help our viewers' segments.

Re:Media (5, Insightful)

bluprint (557000) | about 8 years ago | (#15943062)

Follow the money. There isn't any money in solving such crimes. They are too busy generating profits via traffic and parking tickets and such. Why bother with an actual crime that will use resources when they can target basically good people for cash?

Re:Media (1)

Mr. Byaninch (837872) | about 8 years ago | (#15943079)

You've got a good point. Maybe not always the money, but also the PR.

And that's why I say take it to one's local news station. That's the way to get it out there that the police are responding to what makes money and what is good PR.

Re:Media (4, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | about 8 years ago | (#15942695)

And make sure to tell them something realy important was on there. Like the names and addresses of the people who attended last year's Police Ball.

Or maybe Baltimore police don't have balls?

In all seriousness, file a "John Doe" civil suit in the ISPs district. As part of the action, ask for discovery on a specific IP address. Since you are filing against John Doe, Verizon will most likely consent. Once you have the name and address of the theif, drop the John Doe case and go back to the police with the guy's name, address, phone number, photos of his house and dog. At this point, either the police press charges, or you lodge an official complaint against the cops.

Look at the following article about how the RIAA uses IP addresses to find people [] . You should be using similar tactics. Do some sleuthing once you have the address. Make sure you aren't going after some poor bastard with an open WAP while the real theif lives right next door.

Going to the press is a bad idea. The theif is very likely to see the story and will move to dispose of the property.

Re:Media (4, Insightful)

log0n (18224) | about 8 years ago | (#15942815)

It's most likely Baltimore Police. There was a big expose here about the BCPD forging or failing to take reports, browbeating victims to not press charges... a lot of really heinous stuff. Apparently it was done to try to keep reported crime levels artificillay low to help the mayor get elected to governor. There's been a lot of stink about it in certain news organizations.

(tired - can't spell)

Re:Media (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | about 8 years ago | (#15942772)

And then make sure you never go one mile an hour over the speed limit, spit on the sidewalk, or park 10.001 inches away from the curb for the rest of yourl life.

Re:Media (1)

tgtanman (728257) | about 8 years ago | (#15942803)

Your website says that your company is in Hunt Valley - wouldn't that put you in Baltimore County? If that's where the computer was stolen from, you could try calling the BCoPD Burglary Divsion at 410-887-6296.

Re:Media (1)

linzeal (197905) | about 8 years ago | (#15942811)

Fuck that, get the press on their ass first. Companies can do the most awesome tricks when they capitulate to popular opinion.

Re:Media (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about 8 years ago | (#15942813)

I'd be calling your insurance company next. They have an interest in getting the stolen goods back too, in that then they don't have to make a claim.

The whole situation is pretty silly though. You're basically handing the police a solution on a plate. They won't have to do too much detective work to get a result, and even if it doesn't end in a conviction, at least they's be showing you that 'the system works', and on a slow news day they might even get a _positive_ write up in the local media.

Re:Media (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15943009)

I work for a major PD as a Specialist Reserve Officer. My thing is breaking into computers to obtain evidence when the casual attempts fail. After a couple of conversations with a deputy city attorney , it appears that it is extremely difficult to obtain a filing, much less a conviction, unless the suspect is caught in an illegal act and seen doing so by the eyes of several officers. The greatest cases I've seen were never even filed. I've worked with the feds on some cases and we've been extremely careful not to pollute the original hard drives, but our cases don't even get filed because there's an element of doubt in someone's mind, somewhere along the line. We've handed felony cases to the DA that could be called Silver Platter, but they were not filed because they have higher priorities. Their focus is on violent crime, at least where I do this stuff. If you're just an average Joe like me, I think the police don't give a high enough priority on your loss to give you a second thought. I'm sorry for those in your shoes, but I tend to agree with their priorities.

RIAA (5, Funny)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 years ago | (#15942549)

Your best hope is that now that you have the IP you can hack into the laptop and install a BT server with lots of nice pop music and videos. Then report the sharing site to the RIAA and watch them take this sucka down.

Re:RIAA (0, Offtopic)

extremescholar (714216) | about 8 years ago | (#15942560)

What if the person who is currently in possesion of the laptop has no idea it was stolen. He got it from a friend of a friend for a couple hundred bucks.

Re:RIAA (2, Informative)

wizbit (122290) | about 8 years ago | (#15942592)

It's still a felony in most states. It's called "receiving stolen property", and ignorance is not an excuse.

Re:RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942644)

It's still a felony in most states. It's called "receiving stolen property", and ignorance is not an excuse.
What are you fucking stupid? I've heard about lots of people getting "busted" for buying stolen auto parts. But as long as they *really* had no idea about them being stolen, they just got confiscated by John Q. Law. You must live in a really fucking sad country if it's a "felony" to buy questionable shit from a flea market.

Re:RIAA (3, Interesting)

wizbit (122290) | about 8 years ago | (#15942997)

No, I've been through this with several friends.

If I tell you I can get you a laptop for $100, are you at all suspicious? Anyone with some common sense will suss out that my source might be slightly less-than-reputable. The problem, of course, is very very few people in these cases are "truly" ignorant.

Re:RIAA (4, Funny)

arpy (587497) | about 8 years ago | (#15943119)

Yeah - watch out for these dodgy people! []

Re:RIAA (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about 8 years ago | (#15942595)

Receiving stolen property, they are guilty. If they bought a nice laptop for $200 then they had to know it was stolen (especially since it probably had tons of business documents on it, if it's phoning home it hasn't been wiped). I doubt they bought it in good faith. If they DID (say they paid a decent amount that would buy them such a laptop) then they could get out of the charges by pointing out where they got it. I doubt the DA would press charges on them if they pointed out where they got it from and would testify to that fact.

If they bought it from a pawn shop or used computer shop or something, that shop is liable (I think) and they may still not have claim to the laptop. Both should have questioned the sale of this laptop with all the business stuff still on it (and even more.. selling it like that).

Still, crooks are, by and large, idiots. I would bet the original thief (or a direct relative/girlfriend/boyfriend) has the thing.

Either way, you would think the cops would be all over this one. Grand theft (the laptop cost over $1000 new, right?), known location (more or less, but it keeps phoning home), easy catch, and 100:1 odds that this is NOT the first/only crime the guy has committed (probably has a few other hot items near him).

I agree with one of the other comments. Go to the media. "His laptop was stolen, and he knew where it was... but the police wouldn't do a thing. Why your stuff isn't safe... tonight at 10." Or sue the department (that always gets things moving, just the threat with a nasty-gram should do). Or go talk to the DA. A case like this (likely a slam dunk) you would think they would want to take. They probably don't know about it and could get the police to go do something.

FYI (3, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | about 8 years ago | (#15942630)

grand theft, although it contains the word 'grand' means more substantial theft than 1000, and the value is extremely variable on a per community basis.. 7=&o5=&o1=1&o6=&o4=&o3=&s=grand%20theft []

mnb Re:FYI (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942816)

In Ohio currently, below five hundred dollars is petty theft...
1-499 = petty theft = misdemeanor
500-4,999 = theft = fifth degree felony
5,000-99,999 = grand theft = fourth degree felony
100,000-499,999 = aggravated theft of the third degree = (you guessed it) third degree felony
500,000-999,999 = aggravated theft of the second degree = second degree felony
999,999 and up = aggravated theft of the first degess = first degree felony

Cheap != stolen (4, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 years ago | (#15942827)

It's urban legend but I'm sure similar things happen in real life:
Disgruntled soon-to-be-ex-wife sells husband's car or other stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Unless you are a pawn shop owner or otherwise "knowledgable," the fact you bought it cheap is not evidence you "knowingly" received stolen goods. However, you are still in possession of them and that's usually a misdemeanor. At best, you will be out whatever you paid the real crooks.

BTW, I've received working electronic goods for a very small fraction of their street value, usually because the owner wanted to do me a favor or he just wanted to get rid of the stuff. Now only if I could get a $1,000 laptop for 80% off :).

Re: Stolen Goods (2, Interesting)

Venner (59051) | about 8 years ago | (#15943098)

In the USA, in general...

You can't take shelter in the title to stolen goods, even if you bought the goods in good faith. (The title is void.) The real owner can come and take it back and leave you with nothing. Your course of action is then to sue the thief (if you can still find them) for the money you paid (if they are still solvent).

The law favors the real (true) owner in such cases.

(And before anyone says anything, yes, this is true only in cases of theft. Fraud is an entirely different crime; you give the good up willingly, even if you are misled. In that case, a good faith purchasor buying from the fraudster can acquire good title, even over the original owner.)

Legal systems cost money. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942557)

"They seem clueless. "

Yeah. Seems like it. Now try seeing it from their POV.

Re:Legal sys cost money ... but we already paid! (1)

pbhj (607776) | about 8 years ago | (#15942580)

Yes it costs money to employ police officers and to have specially trained computer crimes units.

But, here's the kicker, we already paid for such things.

So, what this amounts to is some police officer saying ... "they'll get a nice new replacement anyway, why bother tracking the crooks, it's only one laptop".

Of course the problem is probably one of short-termism in that tax-payers won't (or aren't perceived to) value more money spent on law enforcement now and so long term even more needs to be spent as crooks continue to thieve and without any come back more crooks get in on the game, hey and someone stole my full-stop

Re:Legal sys cost money ... but we already paid! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 8 years ago | (#15942674)

Or it may be all of the paper work. It may be the same amount of it for one laptop as it is for 100 of them.

Re:Legal sys cost money ... but we already paid! (3, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | about 8 years ago | (#15942833)

"So, what this amounts to is some police officer saying ... "they'll get a nice new replacement anyway, why bother tracking the crooks, it's only one laptop"."

One of the first things I learned in primary school was that most people in places of authority don't care about dispensing justice unless the incident directly affects them. They'll always rationalize their way out of having to do anything. If you want anything done, you have to call them out in front of a crowd so it makes them look like an asshole if they try to ignore you.

OK..let's look! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942785)

..from the cops POV: "hey we can use x-money from our budget to go get some stupid civvies laptop, OR, we can get these new shiny black boots from acme police supply and some of the new 150,000 watt tasers! And with every sale they are throwing in a nifty black badge cover!"

Yep, I know some cops, that's how they think and act. They *don't care* for the most part, especially on small amounts of stolen items. No promotion potential, no newspaper "tough on terrorism/narcotics" coverage, etc. There's little profit in it for them, just boring drudge work, and they are really lazy guys for the most part. I mean lazy. wired, but lazy when it comes to anything like real work..

  The police business is a growing profitable industry, the big money is in protecting the establishment (the mayor's or chief's laptop would be recovered immediately for example, or if it was personal like one of their own's relatives), and in large drug cases and other high profile cases of that nature. They don't like or want to deal with "little crime" for the most part.

Depends on the Police Department (3, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#15942562)

For instance, in this case: []

"Proof-positive of LoJack's power comes from such stories as the one out of William Penn University in Iowa. A student there had a college laptop stolen. Absolute Software was promptly notified. And their recovery experts there soon tracked the laptop down to the phone line that the notebook was hooked into the Internet on. The Des Moines Police Department was notified, and officers promptly put down their donuts and coffee and swooped in on the missing PC."

The lojack program seems to do the exact thing yours does, but then again, perhaps because it is "official", the police may take the information more seriously.

Re:Depends on the Police Department (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#15942639)

I doupt its so much the officialness of the program as the officialness of the investigators. Absolute obviously already has enough connections that they got information from verizon and only had to give the police the address.

good luck with that (5, Interesting)

grapeape (137008) | about 8 years ago | (#15942565)

I had a laptop and 2 desktops stolen from my van in the parking lot next to the police station in downtown KC. One of my side windows as well as the windows of 3 other vehicles were broken out. The police department couldnt even be bothered to walk downstairs to file a report and told me I would need to phone it in, I called and the detective said I wasnt likely to get it back but he would get back to me. Later that night after I was home my work aim account logged itself online. I got the IP called the police department with the info, was called back the next day and reprimanded for "interfering in police work". Anyway I stopped interfering, 2 years later and I guess they are still busy doing "police work" because I have never heard back from them. I guess I learned my lesson, dont bother. Now when I have to be downtown I just leave the doors unlocked, its alot cheaper than replacing the windows. I've actually managed to make a game out of it, I no longer have to take old computers to the salvage place, I just load them in the van and take them downtown.

Re:good luck with that (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942624)

Bummer. Wouldn't hold out much hope for the Creedence, either. :-(

Re:good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942754)

You owe me a new keyboard. Bastard.

Explained it wrong (4, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 8 years ago | (#15942570)

Think they understood the VBS? Now I know that you didn't directly throw that VB at them, but still.

Explain that your computers connect to the work network and log in, and you noticed that there was a computer trying to "hack in" from another town. Your security people found that the computer was your own computer, one that had been reported stolen.

Spin it in a way they'll understand.

Re:Explained it wrong (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 8 years ago | (#15942650)

I'll give you a big amen on that one. Everytime that you try to explain things to a cop/lawyer/other official, the one thing I see most is that because they don't quite understand, and its not in the normal routine of things, it is considered unimportant. Case in point, my car radio was stolen. Immediately, they said I'm not likely to get it back. I asked if they wanted me to bring the car in so they could get finger prints. No amount of trying to explain that the guy who robbed me, didn't break the window, and left really good grease fingerprints all over the driver's side window... they looked like the ones cops give you when you get arrested. I figure it can't be too much work to try matching those to a database of convicts prints.. but NO, they were not even interested in doing this, no matter how good the prints were... but if you smoke one joint, or stop at the curb to talk to one girl.... well, then, that's a different story. (not that I do these things, but they do seem more interesting to the police)

I think its all in how you describe things to people to get them interested.

Re:Explained it wrong (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 8 years ago | (#15943036)

Hate to disappoint you, but no cop will bother with fingerprints for a simple auto burglary. It's a simple matter of priorities. There are way too many things for the police to do than track down petty criminals.

The biggest reason is that even if they did pull good fingerprints from your window, tracked them to a known criminal, got a warrant, entered his place, and found him along with your stereo in his bedroom, the criminal would get an average sentence of a few days to a few weeks, (most likely suspended,) plus probation and possibly reparations.

But that entire scenario is highly unlikely, from the first assumption to the last. Too many people see smeary fingerprints taken on CSI and assume that every precint has a "Bat Computer" sitting in the back where they can just upload a print and out pops a name and an arrest warrant. And every one of those people expects the same care devoted to catching a car-stereo thief.

There's just nothing in it for the lesser crimes. No real punishments, just a lot of work for absolutely nothing resembling justice. Someone might take pity on you if you didn't have insurance, but even that's highly unlikely unless the value of the stolen merchandise was high.

The cops will definitely take it seriously if there's been a violent crime (again, keep in mind the difference between what you'd consider a serious assault and what they'd consider serious.) And even then, the backlog clogging the BCA labs usually runs over a year before forensic evidence is processed! There are simply too many criminals and too many crimes at this point in history.

Just curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942572)

What language is that? And why assume the thief won't just install or reinstall the OS?

Re:Just curious (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | about 8 years ago | (#15942687)

well apparently some don't...and if you can recover even a few missing laptops it may be well worth it.

Re:Just curious (1)

TwilightSentry (956837) | about 8 years ago | (#15942716)

As he said, the language is VBS (Visual Basic Script), a subset of VB (Visual Basic).

Why would we assume that the theif is computer-savy enough to even know what an OS is? I've had friends who didn't know...

Re:Just curious (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | about 8 years ago | (#15942748)

The thief didn't reinstall the OS, so apparently that is a good assumption.

Stolen Sidekick Part 2: The Missing Laptop (4, Insightful)

SocialEngineer (673690) | about 8 years ago | (#15942578)

Start a blog. Link to it from /. (just post a comment). Get worldwide exposure. Post the IP address and whatever information you can find on the user (without resorting to illegal means). Get people interested in your cause, and get your local paper to publish something. It may piss the police off, but they'll actually do something by then, hopefully.

Re:Stolen Sidekick Part 2: The Missing Laptop (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | about 8 years ago | (#15942822)

Yeah, and if he posts it as a dupe to this article, it'll be sure to go up!

- RG>

Issue in the script (1)

Dj-Zer0 (576280) | about 8 years ago | (#15942646)

Lets assume the laptop got stolen and the os remained still there is a problem with the script, if the laptop is connected inside a private network (most of the time these days many house holds are in a nated environment.
ipconfig will only give you the private IP information,
you will need to modify the server side script to store SERVER['REMOTE_HOST'] to get the proper outside IP. and if thats the case why bother with all the form post and ip configs, just call a preconfigured url with just GET let the server track the REMOTE_HOST

Re:Issue in the script (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 8 years ago | (#15942678)

We don't see what the server side does. But, I can assure you that it doesn't use $_SERVER, because it's perl, not PHP. :p However it likely uses the perl equivalent (a good script would also DNS the IP to get a hostname and store it as well).

Re:Issue in the script (1)

Lesrahpem (687242) | about 8 years ago | (#15942704)

The internal IP can be very useful if the person has several computers inside their house, is behind a transparent proxy like some college and office networks use, etc.

Re:Issue in the script (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942720)

I think perhaps you are forgetting that the script is hitting a public webserver - which means the clients WAN address is reported in the logs there.

Re:Issue in the script (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942740)

you will need to modify the server side script to store SERVER['REMOTE_HOST'] to get the proper outside IP

Why not have the script traceroute back to the server and submit the whole path in the post?

Re:Issue in the script (1)

laing (303349) | about 8 years ago | (#15942961)

You may not have realized this, but when the stolen laptop posts the local IP to the tracking server, the tracking server will ALSO LOG THE SOURCE IP. This way you get both.

Sigs cause cancer

Police not doing their job? (2, Interesting)

bulliver (774837) | about 8 years ago | (#15942660)

The Police seem to be somewhat arbitrary on what they will and won't investigate. A recent anecdote from my part of the world (took place in Kelowna BC, Canada) is interesting: A guy goes to a filling station, pumps $100 in gas, and drives away. The gas station has the guy's face, and his license plates clear as day on security video. They phone the police and get told by the RCMP that they will not follow up this seemingly open and shut case, the reason? The RCMP says it is "too much work" to investigate every pump-and-run, and it is the gas station's fault anyway because they don't require payment up front.

Re:Police not doing their job? (3, Interesting)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 8 years ago | (#15942832)

A situation like this was once in the newspaper in Holland: pump owners had all the date, but police couldn't be bothered. The newspaper coverage increased the amount of pump-and-run cases a bit (hey, if it's that easy...), but it also made it clear to government and police officials that they had to take this seriously, and I guess they improved since then.

Makes you sometimes wish you were in a corruptable regime, there you could have Police officers at least help you if you gave them money. You'd have to give more money than the crooks of course, but anyway there you know then why they won't help you (if you offer too little), and that is better then not being able to get anything done with the police due to random reasons.

Yikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942662)

do until 0=1
on error resume next


Re:Yikes (1)

dhasenan (758719) | about 8 years ago | (#15942903)

What's so scary? If you get an error, it's most likely with the OS, not that script, and it'll most likely be cleared up by the next time the script activates. And if not, the script just sleeps for another day.

The script is simple. It doesn't contain errors, which is easy to verify in fifteen lines. It isn't providing any user-accessible services, and it depends on an external service (an internet connection) over which it has no control.

All in all, it seems like a logical way to handle things.

Tell them Terrorists stole it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942669)

That'll get there attention. Any local police would love the chance at seeing themselves in the headlines as having caught a terrorist.
Shit...they'll call in every resource they can lay their hands on.

Call the FBI (3, Insightful)

Joe U (443617) | about 8 years ago | (#15942675)

You could always call the FBI and have them charged for breaking into secured computer systems, being:

1. The laptop
2. The server

Re:Call the FBI (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 8 years ago | (#15942728)

The FBI won't help unless the damage done to systems is over a certian threshhold, I can't find a link but I believe that it's $4,000.


Good luck (1)

AdderD (542165) | about 8 years ago | (#15942679)

We had a sort of similar case... Our credit card info was stolen. We called the credit card company and the companies through which merchandise was ordered. We got the IP address that things were ordered through. The IP address matched up between various merchants. We then whois'd that IP address and it was for a hotel in the Bahamas. Well, we told the secret service (who are the ones responsible for wire fraud) and they said 'well, thanks but we won't do anything about it because it just isn't enough damage.' Thanks a million! Our tax dollars at work. I know it was the Bahamas but isn't that technically part of the US?

Re:Good luck (1)

CaptainTux (658655) | about 8 years ago | (#15942805)

I believe the damage has to exceed $10,000 USD for the Secret Service to get involved.

Re:Good luck (1)

GhaleonStrife (916215) | about 8 years ago | (#15942898)

That's no problem, just use the RIAA method of determining damage. Multiply everything by 100. The Secret Service HAS to get involved, then!

Re:Good luck (1)

tinrobot (314936) | about 8 years ago | (#15942985)

I know it was the Bahamas but isn't that technically part of the US?

No. It's a separate country... separate government... separate law enforcement.

Bringing the perps to justice would require extradition and lots of red tape.

Re:Good luck (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15943057)

I know it was the Bahamas but isn't that technically part of the US?

Yeah, but only in the same sense that Cuba and Panama are technically part of the US. Something about being independant nations makes them pissy about our law enforcement mucking around inside their borders for some reason.

Hell, Cuba and Panama have been know to shoot at mainland cops. What's with that?


if only that were a macbook (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 8 years ago | (#15942710)

with its built-in camera... mug shot? no we don't need that, we have a printscreen. lets go get him.

Now when will they put a GPS in these things?

Re:if only that were a macbook (1)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | about 8 years ago | (#15942768)

haHA now that's fuckin brilliant. A bit 1984ish, but brilliant.

Make Some Noise. (4, Informative)

themassiah (80330) | about 8 years ago | (#15942724)

First, try and verify that the police department isn't doing anything about it. Talk to a supervisor in a day or two and see where this case is going. Then, if nothing is being done, consult an attorney and ask what your options are. I know that most police forms have complain forms to fill out if you want to start making a stink. Work your way up the ladder, their IS a chain of accountability and if you're persistant and cause enough pain, someone will make the phone call to Verizon or whomever and get the name and address on the account.

If that fails to produce justice, follow up with the attorney and file civil suit against the police agency. You handed them about 3/4 of the case when you produced an IP address, they should have been willing and capable of filling in the missing paperwork and whatnot.

Good luck (1, Interesting)

PrimeNumber (136578) | about 8 years ago | (#15942781)

The only way you will get you laptop back is if the people responsible are caught speeding while wardriving.
Police departments these days are mainly interested in are catching speeders to meet 'quotas'.
Sadly, most cops today are assigned the role of 'stealth tax collectors' that generate additional revenue streams for local and city governments.

MOD PARENT UP. (0, Offtopic)

LFS.Morpheus (596173) | about 8 years ago | (#15942994)

So sad but true.

Nothing new (4, Informative)

dusanv (256645) | about 8 years ago | (#15942784)

I had my car stolen when I was in school. 12 year old Honda Accord. Didn't think anyone would bother to steal the POS so I didn't insure against theft (money saving student). After it got stolen I called the cops and the first thing they asked me was whether the car was insured against theft. Since it wasn't, they wouldn't even take a report! Can you believe that? Anyway, I found the car a couple of days later 5 parking spots away from where I left it. The steering column was busted. There was a pair of size 9 rollerblades in the trunk (thief with size 9 feet?) and six jugs of bleach (???).

This was in local papers: a woman here in town (Ottawa, ON) had her house repeatedly broken into. After reporting to the cops and complaining that she has to buy a new lock each time they told her to leave the door unlocked!

Oh man (1)

deft (253558) | about 8 years ago | (#15942935)

Rollerskates and 6 jugs of bleach???

Sounds like a body with size 9 feet was disposed of to me. :(

This could be fun (5, Interesting)

RealityMogul (663835) | about 8 years ago | (#15942823)

First off, nice job with the script. Now, take it a few steps further. Let that script connect as it is, but let the server return a status indicator as to whether or not the machine is stolen. If it is - let the script modify IE, Opera, and Firefox configuration settings to use a proxy installed on a server you own. Preferably a proxy that can be set to log EVERYTHING. Just wait for them to log into something with clear text username/password, like most e-mail accounts from major providers use. Shouldn't be much of a leap to get enough info on him/her to pinpoint their street address.

Re:This could be fun (1)

honkycat (249849) | about 8 years ago | (#15943093)

I'm always naysaying, but...

I can just imagine a countersuit against you for something (wiretapping, unauthorized use of his services, ??) for doing that. Sort of along the lines of the thief who injures himself while breaking in to a home suing the homeowner for negligence. Monitoring what he does on your machine is probably (?) fine, but I imagine you open yourself up for a whole lot of headaches as soon as you do anything with a sniffed password.

If you're doing this for a company, run it by legal first... breaking a law in the name of apprehending a criminal is a right generally reserved for sworn officers.

Re:This could be fun (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | about 8 years ago | (#15943130)

I guess my wording could have been a little better. I don't mean that you should use his username/password to actually login, but his username is enough to get an e-mail address, and a quick google search will probably lead to enough info. If that doesn't work, you'll have a good long stream of online activity that will give enough clues.

For the monitoring part, it's essentially the same as monitoring employee internet access while they're using company provided equipment. As soon as you use his login to access the person's account, you're right, I think you're in the realm of federal law violations.

That was a Sad day for me. (2, Informative)

WarlockD (623872) | about 8 years ago | (#15942849)

Someone broke in my home, stole my laptop, TV and an 80 pound safe. It was painful to see my AIM messagener come up saying someone just logged on under my account. All I could do is just change the passwords.

Few days latter, it looked like they got my checking account out of my safe and used it to pay the electric bill. Close to 800 bucks. I got the money back from the bank, but the cops did nothing with it.

People wonder why apathy and cynicism is chronic in our society.

Re:That was a Sad day for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942928)

Wait, someone stole a safe from you and you didn't close your accounts?

Foolish crooks (1)

feijai (898706) | about 8 years ago | (#15942876)

If they had any brains, they'd have first taken the laptop to Anchorhead to have its memory erased, and that'd be the end of it.

Good Job. (1)

breakitdown (816727) | about 8 years ago | (#15942940)

You just better hope that they don't read slashdot.

net send (1)

BenjiTheGreat98 (707903) | about 8 years ago | (#15942942)

net send IP_ADDR "Would you please return the laptop you stole? Please?"

Re:net send (1)

breakitdown (816727) | about 8 years ago | (#15942970)

...because if I had stolen a laptop, and someone told me to please return a laptop, I wouldn't. I'd wipe the hard drive and be done with it.

Whoa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15942987)

Nice script dude! Thanks for posting it on Slashdot... I might have missed it!

*deletes script from laptop hard drive*

How to run this script? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15943022)

For those of us who don't know what to do with a snippet of VBScript but would like to use this, how would one go about installing this? I presume it would be installed as a service so that it would run even if nobody logs in using one of the existing accounts on the machine? But how?

More proof (1)

jafiwam (310805) | about 8 years ago | (#15943025)

That cops are friggin useless. Just shoot whomever pisses you off, far more effective.

Or, tell them you have a new PCMCIA plugin card in it and it is supposed to report nitrogen levels in the atmosphere back to a server as hobby. Only now it's picking up lots of nitrates like the thief is handling lots and lots of bags of the stuff.

You might get your laptop back full of submachine gun holes, but at least the perp will get what he's due.

Gotta love those double standards. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15943029)

The cops won't help you recover a laptop, but when one goes missing from the Veterans Administration it becomes national news. You should have told them it had a ton of personal information about a large number of customers, or something.

Here's another double standard for you. The cops won't help you get your laptop back, but if you managed to track it down yourself, went to the guy's house, took it back and laid a beating on him, they couldn't arrest you fast enough for that.

I say get a lawyer and file a civil suit against John Doe, the person using that IP address at that time. Then you can subpoena Verizon's records yourself. Hey, if it's good enough for the RIAA...

Also, call your local news station and tell them about how the cops blew you off, and generally raise a stink until the police are forced to get off their fat asses and do their jobs.

Tort: Conversion (2, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about 8 years ago | (#15943034)

If the cops won't help, see the tort of conversion [] . File a "john doe" civil suit. Once filed, your attorney would have subpoena power -- use it with Verizon to get the name, address, and phone number of the user associated with the IP. Verizon will have an entire department devoted to processing these types of requests -- you'll have no problem except figuring out what their number is. If you represent yourself, you may have to ask the court to issue the subpoena on your behalf. Once you have the identifier, amend your suit to name that party (probably keep the "john does" at least till you're certain you have all the people involved). Also check your states statutes, there may be something specifically related to your situation. The statutes are certainly available online free -- start at your state's homepage (somewhere burried of course).

Re:Tort: Conversion (4, Insightful)

grolaw (670747) | about 8 years ago | (#15943082)

Conversion is a start. 18 U.S.C. 2510 et seq., the Electronic Communication Privacy
Act; 18 U.S.C. 1030 et seq., the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as amended
by the Counterfeit Access Device and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984,
specifically including 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(5)(B) would be a far better choice for a causes of action.

You get attorney's fees, compensatory damages and, there is a collateral criminal charge available. Once your attorney has nailed the defendant the U.S Attorney's office will have some oung turk who will come in and pick up a slam dunk for a notch in his/her belt.

Conversion is a common law action and it is a reasonable cause - but Trover would be a better action as it reaches the cognizable personal property (data) as well as the machine.

This is not a difficult cause to pursue. I've done it several times myself. My first was in 1993 and last was 2002. This is neither rocket science nor high-dollar litigation.

Act fast before the thief kills the script.

OH, don't forget to ask for injunctive relief - like a LIFETIME BAN ON INTERNET ACCESS.

It won't take very many lifetime bans before the cost of a stolen laptop gets around....

"neighboring town" (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 8 years ago | (#15943048)

That may be part of the problem. The police in the neighboring town get credit for the arrest. Your local police just get paperwork.

The neighboring town, meanwhile, doesn't have jurisdiction over the theft.

Aren't organizational boundaries fun?

You could try reporting a posession-of-stolen-property case at the neighboring town. If you have a lawyer on salary (don't try this by the hour) you could ask about filing a "John Doe" lawsuit for "conversion" and issuing the subpoena yourself. (That's not advice, I'm not a lawyer, all I said was to ask a real attorney).

Tell your insurance company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15943061)

Have you recieved any payout from an insurance company? If so, tell them you have information about the items. They may want to persue it themselves (they have their own lawyers on staff). Anything that can be recovered reduces their loss even if you keep the payout.

Re:Tell your insurance company (1)

sporkme (983186) | about 8 years ago | (#15943109)

I will ask my government to hunt down a criminal, using all of the reconnaissance methods at their disposal to track a petty or grand theft. I will raise hell when they do the same to stop terrorist attacks. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what your Constitution can. -John Q. America The thief probably resold the laptop, and the investigation will likely be fruitelss despite your ingenuity. Furthermore, if the thief knows how to steal a laptop, they could probably crack the nut when it comes to hijacking an unsecured wireless network. I know your plight. Understand how you have been taken, learn from it, and go on. Good luck with the cops. Call them and tell them someone stole your car stereo. "What else is new?"

Police are only for Making Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15943127)

Unlike illegal Sandbaging for Speeders, solving property crimes don't make the City/State/etc any money, it cost money to investigate... Don't you know the police are nothing more then another source of revenue for the government??

you're in maryland, what'd you expect? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 8 years ago | (#15943128)

I hate to be a hater, but... you're in Maryland, what'd you expect? Maryland cops are almost as bad as the DC cops in terms of inneptitude and corruption. Between the high violent crime rates in both DC and Maryland, the police haven't got the time or motivation to deal with a seemingly petty offence - in comparision - like a stolen laptop from a company.

No, it's not right. But it's the way it is. You should fight it, though - but you won't likely get results. Still, trying to get a response is akin to helping someone when they're being raped - it might be against your interests of self-preservation, but you couldn't live with yourself if you stood by and let the injustice and abuse of power go unquestioned.
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