Summer months often mean an uptick in travel – for work or for fun. In either scenario, people usually bring their laptops. Devices on the go are a convenient way to stay in touch but unfortunately, they also have a high likelihood of being stolen.
While the cost of replacing a device certainly weighs heavy on organizations of all sizes, even more costly is the price of what’s on the laptop – data. Stolen data is a problem for you, for your organization, their customers, and regulators.
Absolute customers have an important resource to lean on when it comes to stolen devices. The Absolute Investigations Team consists of former law enforcement professionals who are trained to help navigate the circumstances of stolen property and recover stolen laptops. They rely on an Absolute firmware-embedded endpoint defense platform and its undeletable digital tether to every endpoint, no matter where it’s located, and can swiftly lock, freeze, or remotely wipe a device if it falls into the wrong hands.
Here are a few of the investigators’ global recovery highlights over the last two months.
A Good Samaritan at a school in Texas received a device with a ‘stop sticker’ on it from Absolute along with ‘property of another school.’ She reached out to Absolute investigators who were able to look up the machine and determine it was property of a near-by but different school district. They had not yet reported the device stolen. Local authorities picked up the device and returned it to the correct school.
A laptop owned by a diamond mine in Botswana, Africa was stolen during a home burglary. Once they notified Absolute, investigators used forensic tools and determined the laptop was being used in a small residential estate. Local authorities were notified, and they were able to locate the new laptop users and recover the device along with other stolen items. While the police will hold the laptop through the court proceedings, Absolute’s customer will soon have it back and they are very grateful.
A government agency in South Africa reported to Absolute investigators a stolen laptop during a home burglary. Tracking data showed the laptop was now connecting from Poland. When investigators discovered the new user’s contact information and handed the details over, the agency decided to implement a device freeze rather than contact local authorities. Once the freeze occurred, the new user contacted Absolute to return it. They also let investigators know they had purchased the device at a computer shop in Africa. Digging further, Absolute investigators determined the computer shop in Africa has been involved in multiple illegal laptop sales so they notified Interpol
An oil and gas company had a number of laptops and other equipment in storage in their warehouse in Ghana. A few months ago, they shipped the devices to another company site and, at that time, discovered that 42 laptops were missing. After checking their Absolute console, they realized many of them were connecting outside of their network, so they notified investigators. Using forensic tools, Absolute discovered one user and their location and provided that information to local police. Since then, an additional 17 devices have also been recovered and through law enforcement’s continuing investigation, a security guard employed by the company has been named a suspect in the case.
A tech school in Kansas was broken into in 2020 and 15 laptops were stolen. The theft was reported to Absolute investigators who immediately started looking for the devices. One device became active in February 2022 and Absolute could then identify the new user. This information was provided to local authorities who were then able to recover the device. In total, this is the 11th device successfully recovered out of 15. The investigation is ongoing, and the school is pleased with the results to date.
A home builder in Liverpool, United Kingdom had three laptops stolen from an office building on a job site. A couple of months after the devices were stolen, Absolute investigators tracked one of them to a residential address Liverpool. The second device became active shortly after that and it was subsequently tracked to a local computer shop. Details were supplied to local authorities who then went to the shop to speak with the owner. The second and third stolen laptop were successfully recovered from the store and the Absolute customer is pleased with having their equipment returned, although no charges could be filed because the shop failed to keep records on who sold the stolen devices.
An employee at a law firm with offices in Angola was the victim of a vehicle burglary and their company-owned laptop was among the stolen items. The company notified Absolute and investigators, using forensic tools, were able to identify the new user’s name, contact details and home address. Geolocation confirmed the laptop was being used at the identified location. Investigators contacted local police but after a lengthy wait time, the company made the decision to change tactics and freeze the device. Once the device was unusable, investigators contacted the user and they have since cooperated in returning the laptop to the law firm.
An employee of a government agency in South Africa was the victim of burglary and the company-owned laptop was among the stolen items. Absolute was notified and investigators could immediately see it was being used by a student using it to study. Law enforcement was notified and, once Absolute provided the user’s information, they successfully recovered the device. From time of theft to recovery, it took just 11 days in total and the Absolute customer was very happy.
A university in North Carolina had stored laptops in a warehouse and 4 were stolen. School officials notified Absolute, and investigators went to work. Most recently, one of the stolen devices came online and investigators determined who the new user was. Law enforcement was notified and they contacted him. He was resistant to turning the device in at first; police detectives had to convince him. He eventually showed up at the police station to surrender the device and let authorities know he bought from a pawn shop. Through the investigation, it has been determined all of the stolen devices were pawned by one woman who is unrelated to the school. In total, 3 have so far been recovered and the investigation continues for the fourth and final stolen laptop.
For more than 15 years, Absolute Investigations has helped organizations recover their stolen devices. Made up of former law enforcement professionals and other experts, Absolute Investigations uses forensics tools and techniques to locate devices at large and once found, they connect with local law enforcement to orchestrate their safe return. Learn more here.