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Laptop thief was snared by secret camera

WHEN Joshua Kaufman's laptop was stolen, the police didn't want to know.

But Mr Kaufman wasn't going to take the theft lying down. He duly went online and used Twitter and a blog to help track down his stolen computer.

His efforts were successful and the computer was returned this week -- the latest example of people, not police, using technological tools to help find their own stolen property.

It helped that just before the laptop was stolen, he had installed theft-tracking software.

The images from that software that arrived in his inbox were grainy, low-lit and intimate: a man curled up on a couch, sound asleep; the same man propped up against pillows on a bed.

Mr Kaufman took the images to police, who did not help him. So he went online, publishing the pictures on Twitter and in a blog titled "This Guy Has My MacBook."

"People who followed me on Twitter retweeted it. It got picked up by social media and the press. It went super viral," he said.

Police on Tuesday arrested a 27-year-old cab driver, Muthanna Aldebashi.

Mr Kaufman had just moved to a new apartment in Oakland, San Francisco, when a burglar broke in, taking the laptop, a bag, an electronic book reader, and a bottle of gin on March 21. He activated theft-tracking software which then began sending photos.

Among them was a screenshot of the man logging onto his Gmail account, which showed an email that appeared to include the name of a business. A quick internet search revealed it was a cab company in nearby Berkeley.

Police blamed the large volume of theft reports for the failure to follow up on Mr Kaufman's initial leads.

Irish Independent