Stolen laptop leads to drug bust

I must admit, this isn’t quite what I expected when I read the headline. I was expecting the contents of the laptop that had somehow come into the hands of the police or DEA to contain evidence that lead to the bust.  As it was, the recovery was a result of “phone home” software and the
bust was an incidental.

Security software built into a stolen laptop computer led police to a
Hoisington residence on Tuesday. Authorities not only found the
computer, but they also uncovered what appears to be a methamphetamine
lab.

So what is the procedure around the ‘phone home‘ software? Does it
contact the police directly? Does the owner notify the ‘phone home
software vendor and they in turn notify the police when they have a trace?

Detective Denton Doze at the Great Bend Police Department said the
$9,000 computer, along with hand tools and power tools, was stolen
during a burglary reported last Friday at the My Town project, 1419 Main
Street.

That must have been quite some laptop!

As of Wednesday evening, the missing tools had not been accounted for.

Well, obviously. They don’t have ‘phone home‘ software that runs when they are used.

But $9,000 for a laptop!

Right now I’m using the last laptop that Compaq produced before HP took over the brand. I bought it in a ‘fire sale’ and it was loaded to the gills. Even so, that amounted to only C$2,000, including a support agreement that wasn’t worth the ink, never mind the paper, it was printed on. (My advice: avoid support agreement on ‘consumer products’ whose value drops so sharply that a much advanced replacement is available a year later for less.) I can now get similar from various vendor for half to 2/3rds of that price.

Even at places like Best Buy I see 17″ MAC laptops advertised for under $3,000 and similar or more heavily loaded from Acer (4G/320G) for half that. Even a droolworthy new HP Pavilion with Blu-ray Disc support, 18.4″ wide-screen; 500GB hard drive; fingerprint reader; built-in webcam; Bluetooth and dual core 64k is under $2,000. I’m sure that price could be bettered.

Let’s package that with a few extras like a handful of 8G USB sticks, spare batteries, fancy headphones, mouse, USB floppy, throw in a few game CDs and wrap it up in a nice case from e-bags.com.

I still don’t see that as $9,000 NEW. And the moment you walk out the door of the store or HP announce a new machine its value drops and keeps dropping.

When I try to find something about the power of my Compaq, since according to the current tax laws its value has depreciated to zero now and I can and should replace it, I find something twice the power and capacity – and if I back off further on price things seem to level out between $600 and $700 with 17″ machines that still have more memory and more disk than the one I’m using. If I drop the 17″ requirement and settle for a 15″-widescreen I can still get double the memory and double the disk disk for under $500.

I have friends whose monthly family grocery budget is more than that!

So when I see a laptop valued at $9,000 I get to wonder. If this hadn’t been recovered and the owner tried to claim that amount on his insurance policy I wonder what the reaction of the insurance company would have been.

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Security Evangelist

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