IT expert tracks down stolen laptop
Published 15/08/2011 | 17:56
An IT expert has managed to outsmart a burglar who stole his laptop during the riots - by tracking him down through cyberspace.
Information security professional Greg Martin stayed at his girlfriend's house last week because of trouble near his own home but when he went back the following morning, he found his flat in West Kensington, London, had been broken into and his Macbook Pro laptop and other belongings taken.
But little did the culprit realise Mr Martin had installed a tracking device on the computer.
Writing on his blog, he said: "Police showed up, took a report and dusted for prints, performed typical forensics... One thing they did not expect was that I had installed the amazing open source tracking software from http://preyproject.com.
"Once I flagged my laptop as missing within Prey, I waited eagerly for the first report to come in.
"Almost two weary days had gone by and I'm at dinner on a business trip in Luxembourg and I received an email which nearly knocked me out of my chair with excitement."
Mr Martin, who says he has previously worked for the FBI and Nasa, described on his blog how he then monitored the burglar surfing the internet, and was able to get his identity from Facebook.
"After two hours of watching him surf religious revelation videos, shopping for Mercedes A class on autotrader he finally popped onto facebook!"
He said the "treasure trove" of information included the man's name, school, address in west London, and information about his wireless internet.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said an 18-year-old had been charged with handling stolen goods.