According to Safeware, Inc., a laptop is stolen every 12 seconds worldwide. The most common places for laptops to be taken are from parked cars, hotels, and airports – approximately 12,000 laptops are stolen or go missing at U.S. airports each week. The majority of stolen laptops are never recovered and can cost laptop owners and businesses millions of dollars each year in hardware, software, and the loss of valuable information.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission suggests that people should treat their laptops like a wad of cash. You wouldn't stuff the wad of cash in your checked luggage, wave it around the airport, leave it in the backseat of a parked car, or sitting on your hotel room nightstand; so, your laptop should be given the same respect. While traveling, especially at the airport, it’s imperative to keep your laptop in your possession and within your view at all times. Thieves are very smart and are constantly looking for distracted travelers; they only need you to let your guard down or turn your back for a second in order for them to get their hands on your laptop. While you are going through the security checkpoint, things can get a little hectic and this is the perfect opportunity for thieves to take advantage of your disarray. At this point, do not let other travelers make you feel rushed; it’s better to take your time to make sure you have all your belongings and put them safely away. If you have a carrying case, make sure to close and lock it. If you have to go to the restroom, always take your laptop with you.
There are also a few security features you can attach directly to your laptop, e.g. a security cable or alarm. Both work in similar fashions and ultimately try to prevent the thief from physically taking the laptop via a lock or alarm of some sort. Another option is to install a fingerprint scanner, which replaces your username and password. There is also software you can purchase and install that will lock your laptop, encrypt data, track the laptop if the thief goes online, and more. A simple internet search for any of these products will provide all sorts of options.
If your laptop is unfortunately stolen, now is not the time to be embarrassed! Be sure to contact the police and provide as much information as possible. They will be able to help guide you as to what steps to take next. You will also need to contact your insurance company and your manager or IT Department if the laptop was company-owned. Finally, if there is even the slightest chance of identity theft, change all your passwords and contact your bank and credit card companies immediately.
If you are a frequent traveler, you need to make it as difficult as possible for a thief to steal your laptop. They are looking for unsuspecting travelers and easy access. But in the end, laptop theft is 100% preventable. Never let your laptop out of your sight, even for a minute. Like the thief, always be aware of your surroundings. If someone seems suspicious, notify security and get away from them; if something doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't!
Have you had your laptop stolen? Share your experience with us in hopes of preventing it from happening to someone else.