Endpoint Security Data Visibility & Protection Education

Absolute Investigations December Roundup Device Recovery Success Stories

December 23, 2021

5 Min Read

Maybe you have a fleet of new devices on order for your organization in 2022. Or maybe your family has new laptops on their Christmas list this year. Either way, the chances that any of those devices are stolen in the months to come are higher than anyone would like. Obviously, the cost of the device itself is significant, but even more valuable than that is the ‘price’ of the data that can typically be found on it.

Absolute customers have an important resource to lean on when it comes to stolen devices. The Absolute Investigations Team has been recovering stolen laptops on behalf of customers since 1995. This crack team rely on their law enforcement backgrounds to successfully navigate the circumstances of stolen property, and can quickly leverage the Absolute firmware-embedded endpoint defense platform and its undeletable digital tether to every endpoint, no matter where that endpoint is located. Put it all together and investigators can jump into action to lock, freeze, or remotely wipe a device if it falls into the wrong hands.

Here are some of the investigators’ most recent recovery highlights in December. Below, you’ll also see a link to excerpts of 2021’s recovery stories. While we have a talented, hard-working team of investigators at Absolute, let’s hope we won’t have so much work to do in 2022!

Employee theft

When an employee left their job at a large mental health services provider in Surrey, UK, they failed to return their company-owned laptop, despite several requests. Using the Absolute console, the organization’s IT team could see that the device had been reimaged, so they contacted Absolute Investigators and local law enforcement. Shortly after that, Absolute’s team saw that the device name changed briefly to the name of a second-hand chain store popular in the area. But then the device was reimaged yet again. Using forensic tools and its investigation expertise, along with help from the store’s senior loss prevention manager (whom Absolute investigators knew and had worked with previously), Absolute was able to confirm that the new user was a team lead at the second-hand store at a nearby branch. Law enforcement officials worked with the store using information from the person who had sold them the device, and that part of the investigation remains ongoing. Ultimately, the Absolute customer now has their device back and couldn’t be happier.


School burglary

Five laptops were stolen during a school burglary in Ontario, Canada. The board of education contacted both local law enforcement and the Absolute investigations team. Investigators used geolocation capabilities to discover the devices’ location, which happened to be very near the police station. They called detectives to let them know their findings. Police had a suspect in the school break-in but couldn’t move on their suspicions until the Absolute data showed the device was determined to be in the same area as their suspect. Detectives went to the home and the suspect’s sister gave officers two of the stolen laptops. The officer assigned to the case is familiar with the suspect and says he expects more laptops to be recovered soon. One of the devices returned was a laptop that didn’t have Absolute installed and had been stolen from the board of education in a separate crime.


Student theft

A student who was assigned a laptop from school district officials in Texas reported that his laptop had been stolen from his locker during gym class. The school’s IT team contacted Absolute investigators, who discovered the device became active again shortly after the theft. They quickly discovered calls were being made both on and off the school’s network, and forensic tools determined the new user to be another student. The personal information of this individual was shared with the school, and officials oversaw the device’s return to the originally assigned student. The district decided to handle the matter internally, without law enforcement involvement.


Theft from taxi

A man in Texas accidentally left his laptop in the back of a cab in Texas. When he called the cab company to try and get the device back, he was told no such device had been found. He then contacted local law enforcement and Absolute investigators. Using forensic tools, they could see the new user was a female in the same Texas city. On social media, the woman announced that ‘Christmas came early’ due to finding a laptop in the back of a cab. Absolute investigators contacted local law enforcement with what they knew, but unfortunately the woman was arrested on other charges and had told detectives that the device had been pawned. Investigators soon discovered the device became active again, in yet another Texas town. Law enforcement officials there hesitated to act on the case, considering it lost not stolen. The Absolute investigator encouraged the original owner to go into his local police station to argue his loss, and when he did, he realized the detective assigned to the missing laptop was an old high school friend. Absolute forensic tools located the new user, who had purchased it at a nearby pawn shop. Local law enforcement successfully retrieved the device, and the original owner was happy to have it back.


Also read: 2021’s Absolute Investigations Roundup stories by month  

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.


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