ATI Fw: An Amazing Laptop Recovery Story
Denny Huff, (MCB - A Great Place To Be)
dhuff at moblind.org
Tue Sep 22 09:13:44 CDT 2009
Thanks for sharing.
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From: ati-bounces at moblind.org [mailto:ati-bounces at moblind.org] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 8:43 AM
To: Adaptive technology information and support.; accesscomp at freelists.org
Subject: ATI Fw: An Amazing Laptop Recovery Story
An Amazing Laptop Recovery Story
Using remote access software, a Miami man helps cops track down and recover
his two stolen laptops.
Todd R. Weiss, PC World
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 09:00 PM PDT This is a true story about sex,
computers, the Internet, spying, theft, intrigue, and the police--and it all
began this past February when David Krop made the mistake of leaving his two
laptop computers inside a locked SUV in a parking garage.
While Krop, 41, attended a brief business meeting in downtown Miami
Beach, Florida, a smash-and-grab thief stole the two laptops, a Toshiba and
an Apple Macbook. When he returned to his SUV, Krop saw the shattered
passenger window and r ealized that his computers were gone.
David Krop had two laptops stolen out his SUV, but he refused to let matters
end there."It's just a terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach," Krop, a
vice president of marketing at Nationwide Diabetic says. He reporte d the
theft to the police, who were not optimistic the laptops would be recovered.
Then he drove home, thinking about the personal data stored on his laptops.
He had never planned for a catastrophic event like this--in fact, he hadn't
even bothered to set up a user password to shield the laptops' contents.
When he got home, though, Krop remembered that he had installed a trial
version of remote access software called LogMeIn on his Toshiba laptop.
LogMeIn is designed to allow a user to access the desktop of a remote PC; it
doesn't have laptop recovery features of the type you'd find on, say,
Absolute Software's LoJack for Laptops. Connecting to his stolen laptop
might be a long shot, but it was the only shot he had.
First, though, Krop had to recall his LogMeIn username and password, and
this hurdle took hours, he recalls. But at last he connected, and to his
immense relief he could view the desktop of his stolen Toshiba laptop. Its
new owner was surfing porn sites.
Seconds after Krop linked to his desktop remotely, a small red box from the
LogMeIn connection appeared on the laptop's screen at the remote user's end.
The person at the other end quickly clicked it off, thereby disconnecting
Krop. Krop waited for a few minutes and then reconnected, and this time the
user ignored the red box.
Let the Spying and Intrigue Begin
Krop captured this image and the others shown below with his video camera.
Unaware that Krop was spying on his activities, the user of the Toshiba
laptop visited porn site after porn site, taking breaks to check e-mail,
chat with people via instant messaging software, update his Facebook and
MySpace accounts, and place ads to Craigslist.com for what Krop said
appeared to be some kind of female modeling business.
"My eyes just lit up," Krop says. "Just the fact he was online at that
moment was amazing."
Krop decided to continue his surveillance, collect as much information as he
could, and then contact the police to see if they could then get his laptops
"It was strange, but it was also an incredible feeling," he says. "It's
like, here's someone who breaks into my car and stole my computers and I'm
breaking back into my computer."
Krop began capturing screenshots as the person using his laptop perused
hundreds of e-mail messages in a Hotmail.com account. Eventually, Krop
decided to switch to using his video camera to record what was going on.
"It was unbelievable," Krop recalls. "I was watching this guy for three
hours. At this point, this guy's got his Hotmail open, a chat box open,
Craigslist open, and he's downloading photos and videos [of nude women] as
And just when Krop thought the accumulating mound of evidence couldn't get
any more incriminating, it did: The laptop's user initiated a video chat
with someone else, and Krop could see the suspect's face.
In less than three hours, Krop knew the individual's name, e-mail addresses,
and cell phone number and had a recording of him on video tape. Then Krop
paid $10 to an online service that sold him the address linked to the man's
cell phone number. "All this information told me [the man] was living on
Miami Beach not far from the scene of the crime."
The Police Reenter the Picture
Early the next morning, a Saturday, Krop revisited the Miami Beach police,
bringing along a DVD containing the incriminating video he had captured as
well as a notepad detailing what he had learned. A police clerk phoned two
detectives at home and told them that Krop "had a lot of evidence they
needed to see," Krop remembers. The detectives--Sergeant A.J. Prieto and
Detective Matt Ambre--came in even though both were scheduled to have the
Prieto and Ambre sat and watched the video with Krop. "I think we'll get
those laptops back for you now," Prieto told him. With the information from
Krop's DVD, Prieto and Ambre quickly found the address in Miami for the man
who had Krop's laptop.
Prieto says that when he and Ambre arrived at the suspect's door, the man
was actually using the laptop in question.
"He gave up the computer quickly," Prieto says. "I think he was aware that
something was not right." The man denied having stolen the laptop, however,
telling Prieto that he had bought it for $300 while getting a haircut in a
barbershop. The owner of the barbershop, he said, had purchased the stolen
The barber subsequently confirmed the Toshiba user's story, Prieto says,
clearing the latter of responsibility for the theft.
"The greatest thing is that in a relatively short amount of time we were
able to get the computers back for the victim," Prieto said.
Krop says that nearly a month later a staff attorney in the Florida State
Attorney General's office contacted him to report that police had arrested
the man that they believed had stolen his laptops but that they had to
release him because of insufficient evidence.
A Barbershop Visit Turned His Weekend Upside Down The man who bought the
stolen Toshiba laptop says that he was just minding his own business when
another man walked into the barbershop and offered him a nice deal on a
notebook PC. "This guy comes in and he said, 'Hey, what's up? I've got two
laptop computers to sell.'"
The buyer already had a PC; but it was infected with viruses, and fixing it
would have cost $150. "So instead of paying $150 to get my viruses fixed, I
thought I'd buy this one for $300."
Later that weekend, the police arrived at the buyer's home, looking for two
stolen laptops. "Two days later, I'm sitting in my crib and the police bang
on the door," he says. "They sat me down and said 'We need the laptops.'"
Did the buyer know that the Toshiba laptop was stolen when he bought it? "I
didn't care whether it was stolen," he says. "I buy stolen stuff all the
time. I don't care... If I can save $600, I'll do it." But now knowing that
a laptop can be tracked online, he says he won't be buying any more
computers off the streets.
Krop has learned his lesson, too. "I've learned to always, always, always
take my laptops with me and to never leave them in the car, even if it's for
just a few minutes," he says. "And generally I don't take two laptops with
me anymore. I take just one. And I also learned to use log-in passwords on
computers"--to protect his data--and to equip his laptops with remote
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