*A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the USA – Symantec
*Over 600,000 laptops are stolen each year in the USA – Safeware Insurance Agency
*97% of these laptops are never recovered – FBI
*The second most common crime, just after identity theft, is laptop theft – FBI
*Lost or stolen laptops are the top culprit of data leaks/breaches, accounting for 45% (of all the incidents studied) – The Identity Theft Resource Center
*Laptops are the number-one item stolen in San Francisco – San Francisco Police Department
The Fear of Theft
As laptops become more common, the laptop theft rate is also rising at an alarming pace. Laptops are a favorite item among thieves due to the ease in which they can be transported and resold.
*Portability and complacency make laptops an easy steal – Montreal Mirror, October 5, 2006
*Laptops have legs. You need to keep them chained (even at home) – Safety tip from a personal blog
Where Laptops are Stolen – Locations
Nowadays people take their laptops with them everywhere. In addition to work, school and travel, the proliferation of wireless internet hot zones have people bringing laptops out in the street, using them in public cafes.
*Police say normally quiet cafes are becoming hunting grounds for laptop bandits – San Francisco Chronicle, April 8, 2006
*”Where else do you have a thousand-dollar item sitting on a table in a coffee shop?” – San Francisco Chronicle, April 8, 2006
*University campuses are turning out to be a crook’s best friend. Jacques Lachance, a security investigator at Concordia University, estimates that one laptop a week is stolen at the University. – Montreal Mirror, October 5, 2006
*Thieves are also making a killing stealing laptops from cars. According to the Montreal Police Service, 3,928 portable computers were stolen from vehicles last year, up from 2,870 reported thefts the year before. “Sometimes students will lock their laptop in their car but it’s still visible,” Lachance says. “Or they’ll think it’s secure in the trunk, but people watch them go to their car, and later they’ll just break through the trunk.” – Montreal Mirror, October 5, 2006
*Many airports are full of professional thieves who make a living from stealing laptops and selling the content of the hard drive to the highest bidder. – Traveling Light, The Entourage Help Page
Once your laptop is stolen, the likelihood of recovering anything from your loss is quite slim. Losing your laptop is devastating and quite costly when you consider the priceless photos, files and personal information you have stored, in addition to the expensive hardware.
*There is nothing that can prepare you for the feeling of loss and the dread that comes with knowing that your personal data is gone forever. While it is very inconvenient and can be very expensive to replace the laptop itself, NOTHING can replace the hours of hard work that is stored on your computer. – The UK Web Design Company
*”Three months after I lost my laptop and started rebuilding my files, I still have only one third of my data recovered,” says Ms. Gilbert. “It will be at least six months before I will reach full productivity, and I’ll never have everything back”. She lost sleep and spent countless anxious weeks worrying about client information and how she was going to stay on top of her projects. “I never want to go through it again,” says Gilbert. – Lessons in Data Loss: A Case Study, Data Deposit Box
*For personal computer users there are mp3 playlists, emails, personal photo albums, and other important files. For the professional computer user, the stakes are higher…perhaps it’s the accounting data for your company’s 3rd quarter earnings, the PowerPoint presentation you will be giving to the CEO on Thursday afternoon, or the proposal that needs to be sent to the European office A.S.A.P. There are some real horror stories about the financial impact to a corporation of having its entire five-year marketing plan stolen along with someone’s laptop. – The UK Web Design Company
*Dr Chetan Ruprai, 28, a specialist registrar in the maternity ward at York Hospital, is desperate to get her laptop back. The machine contains three years worth of painstaking medical research which cannot be replaced and is vital to her career. “This is very distressing and I will do anything to get it back” she said. – The Press, January 27, 2007
*I was out the cost of the laptop plus I had to redo 3 websites I built. Backups were stolen too. The theft of my laptop cost me thousands. – Personal blog post
*Of course I filed a police report, but I’ve already said goodbye to years and years worth of memories. Photos, videos, documents… some (very few) of which were backed up but most are now in the hands of a thief. – Personal blog post
Besides storing all your invaluable data, laptops also serve as an extremely important work, communication and entertainment tool. In our computer dependent society, it’s not surprising that victims of laptop theft often feel an immense sense of loss and anguish.
*Losing a laptop is a traumatic experience… I know it was a total disaster for me. All my email was gone, my photos from the Russia/Ukraine holiday, the new OKS features I wrote on the plane coming here, and so on. Of course, I was left without my slides for my meeting the next day, and with no laptop to conduct my course Wednesday-Friday. – Personal blog post
*After my laptop was stolen, I definitely had a good cry. There’s a feeling of depression perhaps and certainly futility. I miss the first computer that was truly mine. I liked that laptop! I’m missing my pictures and notes. I’m missing the Mac software I had figured out how to use. Without a computer, I can’t send email or blog. I can’t watch videos. Having my laptop stolen affected my lifestyle, my community, my mental and emotional wellbeing. I was mad that my family and I had to pay the price for someone else’s actions with both time and money… – Personal blog post
*You can steal my car, my money, my shoes, I don’t really care, but don’t steal my damn laptop! – Personal blog post
*Oh I had insurance. Insurance doesn’t cover weeks of modeling time done on my laptop, or a sketchbook nearly filled with drawings or notes. So as all the other architecture students are looking forward to a break from the studio, a time to spend with family at the dinner table enjoying Thanksgiving and in front of the TV enjoying football and beer, I look forward to 100 hours in front of a drafting table and a laptop borrowed from the school, drafting and CADing to my hearts content. Why me? Why now? What did I do to deserve this? – Personal blog post
*I’m a graduate Professional Writing student at USC. I write fiction, nonfiction and screenplays. As a result of the theft of my laptop, I lost some pieces I had written, I had to buy a new laptop, and I was pained emotionally because of the incident. I felt, and still feel very wronged, and taken. It makes me sick to know someone has my laptop with my personal files. – Personal blog post
*It was like you cut off my arm. I had my whole life on my laptop. Two novels, years of photos, work files, and more. Since I’m a full-time volunteer these days, I have no money to buy a new computer. – Personal blog post
*As I slept, someone entered the house and stole my laptop, backpack, wallet, cell phone, and iPod. All while I slept. My life revolves around that laptop and the loss is monumental to me. – Personal blog post
*Fortunately, whoever entered my abode and took my possessions didn’t kill or maim me. But the loss of my LIFE, which was entirely wrapped up in that laptop, is almost too much for me to bear. All day I’ve been making phone calls, leaning on good friends for support, and changing what passcodes I can in an attempt to thwart the upcoming identity theft, or whatever else the thief decides to do with my personal information. – Personal blog post
Small businesses might have the most to lose when a laptop goes missing. The loss of vital data such as client information, accounting records or business plans could all spell disaster for a small business.
*The day my laptop was stolen almost killed my business. The laptop can be replaced. However the loss of critical DATA was the biggest risk my business has ever faced. – The UK Web Design Company
*Users today store more mission-critical data than ever before, so a lost laptop is a huge issue for a small business owner. In total, 7 out of 10 small businesses go bankrupt within a year of experiencing a major data loss. – Lessons in Data Loss: A Case Study, Data Deposit Box
As seen in the news recently, even large companies such as Boeing and Fidelity are not immune to theft. Both have had laptops stolen from employees that contained very critical data pertaining to hundreds of thousands of people, putting these innocent victims at risk for identity theft, credit card fraud and a slew of other dangers.
*”2006: The Year of the Stolen Laptop” – Forbes, September 7, 2006
*Boeing disclosed that files containing Social Security numbers, names and home addresses of 382,000 current and former employees were compromised when an unencrypted laptop was stolen from an employee’s car. – MSNBC, December 13, 2006
*The University of California, Berkeley, is warning more than 98,000 people that the theft of a laptop from its graduate school admissions office has exposed their personal information. Files on the laptop contained names, dates of birth, addresses and Social Security numbers of 98,369 graduate students or graduate-school applicants. The files go back three decades in some cases. – CNN, March 28, 2005
*Financial services giant Fidelity Investments confirmed that a laptop containing the personal information of almost 200,000 Hewlett-Packard employees was stolen from its property. – CNN, March 23, 2006
*Georgia-based Emory Healthcare reports that a laptop containing information on 38,000 of its patients was stolen. The missing laptop contained information on patients who had been treated for cancer at Emory Hospital, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, and Grady Memorial Hospital. The data included names, addresses and Social Security numbers.
The theft of patients’ medical records is a growing concern, particularly as these records can be used to engage in “medical identity theft”. Thieves can use stolen identities not only to obtain credit and loans, but to get expensive medical procedures that they might not have otherwise been able to afford, running up thousands in debt in the process.
Patients who have been hit with medical identity theft can find their insurance premiums skyrocketing, and can face large medical bills for procedures they never had. – ConsumerAffairs.com, January 8, 2006
Without a doubt laptop theft is a real concern, but you can minimise the risk by using one of the secure laptop bags with built-in anti-theft features that are available from Pacsafe. They have models available for both men and women, if you are concerned about the risk of your laptop being stolen then take a look at the MetroSafe 300 Secure Laptop Case.