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January 23, 2006

Police offer tips on avoiding laptop thefts

By Marissa Maciel

Bikes, car stereos, and backpacks are common items reported stolen at UCSC, but the most profitable item for thieves is laptop computers.

Laptops are often stolen from unlocked dorm room and office doors, unlocked ground-floor windows, and cubby holes at dining halls around campus, said Detective Brian Cabriales.

Police have some simple advice to keep from becoming a victim of theft on campus. “The best way to avoid it is not to advertise,” said Cabriales. “My rule is out of sight, out of mind.” Common-sense precautions, such as keeping your belongings with you at all times or securing them under lock and key, can prevent many thefts from occurring. Other tips are listed on the UCSC Police web site, including:

  • Close and lock your door when you leave your room or office
  • Close exterior doors to hallways and buildings; never leave these doors propped open
  • Keep valuables out of plain view, in both rooms and vehicles
  • Write down the serial numbers of your valuables

Campus Police also recommend engraving a special identifying number on valuables so that if your laptop is stolen, the identifying number can assist police in recovering it. Cabriales noted that college offices have engravers for students to borrow.

Cabriales also recommends installing theft-recovery software to increase the odds of retrieving stolen computers. Absolute Software provides one such service to its customers, called Computrace LoJack for Laptops, which reports the stolen laptop’s location to the company once thieves connect it to the Internet. Cabriales said a variety of companies offer theft-recovery software.

If you are a victim of theft on campus, Cabriales suggests giving the police “the most information you can in the least amount of words--just the facts." He adds that it’s important that victims do not disturb the area where the theft occurred, regardless of the type of theft.

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