Tracking stolen laptop?

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Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by agroof on Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:14 am
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My father recently had his laptop stolen and didn't have any tracking software. Since I'm the only one in the family who knows how computers work (well, sort of) , he asked me if I knew of any way I could help.

Unfortunately, I'm actually dismal with anything that isn't java, which I'm assuming is useless in this scenario. I was wondering if anyone knows if there's a way to track it and find the people who stole it - I know that your ip address changes when you change networks, but I was thinking maybe if he had cookies enabled to automatically login upon opening websites then do you think that our isp could give a list of recent ip addresses that accessed (accidentally) any online accounts of his?

I don't plan on doing anything malicious, I just want to find the laptop.
Also, I live in a country where all the criminals are idiots. They're not people trying to earn quick cash, they're a result of lack of education, poverty etc (quite sad really), so I wouldn't expect them to do anything vaguely complex to erase traces of it being stolen.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and if this sounds a bit too vigilante or illegal then I offer an apology to the moderators.
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by limdis on Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:45 am
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This will be tough if you haven't installed any tracking software or taken other measures to root yourself. The cookies and saved websites is a good idea to watch however, you need to change those passwords as soon as possible at the same time. Awaiting a login might score you an IP, which in itself will only give you a general location, but you are also still leaving the thief access to your information. If you do decide to use that method then I suggest immediately changing the passwords to ALL your sites that you want to keep private.
In the US, I have seen this work a couple of times. Contact the police and give them the best physical description of the laptop that you possibly can, be incredibly tedious with details and especially with identifying marks. But also give them the login password. Odds are if the laptop is closed when it is opened you are hit with a password prompt yes? If you don't know the serial number this one the best ways to prove that it is yours. Also, call all your local pawn shops and tell them the situation and also give them the same information. They legally cannot tell you if they bought it or not but if they do have it they will be contacting the police.
Aside from that there isn't much you will be able to do. That is unless you discover they have accessed your email.... leaving you a window for some hackery...
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by shdwcat on Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:01 am
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Goodluck on finding it, make sure to get a police report and look in pawnshops, look on ebay or craigslist for if he is trying to sell it. Have all your duck lined in a row as far as make sure you have the model #. If you end up getting a new laptop install http://www.truecrypt.org/ on your hard drive this way if it happens again everything will be encrypted. But more then likely I would say it was stolen to sell. They will reload window or default operating system back onto it. But its thats my opinion.

Even if you get the IP address and a general location it would take a court order to get the actual IP from the ISP.
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by Amazingred on Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:16 pm
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First things first:
Do you have all the id information on the PC. serial numbers and the like?
Did they regularly use the internet?

There are a couple of quite slim options (not really hax1ng or coding but steps you can take) that might give you an idea of where to start looking if you answer yes to both of those questions....
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by LoGiCaL__ on Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:48 pm
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You would think Microsoft would be able to track this shit if it is windows through updates or something. Far reach though. Shit, with these so called built-in back doors in windows you would think finding lost laptops would be more common or offered as a service.
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by limdis on Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:54 pm
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LoGiCaL__ wrote:Shit, with these so called built-in back doors in windows you would think finding lost laptops would be more common or offered as a service.

*cough cough admission of guilt cough*
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by Amazingred on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:39 am
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thats pretty much the idea. there are a lot of online services that keep access logs of all your comings and goings well enough to be used as a starting point to tracking the source of the logins. gmail for example keeps ip logs of your logins like this:

Recent activity:
Access Type [ ? ]
(Browser, mobile, POP3, etc.) Location (IP address) [ ? ] Date/Time
(Displayed in your time zone)
Browser * United States (MO) (111.11.111.111) 12:32 am (0 minutes ago)
Browser * United States (MO) (111.11.111.111) 8:46 pm (3.5 hours ago)
Browser * United States (MO) (111.11.111.111) 2:32 pm (10 hours ago)
Browser * United States (MO) (111.11.111.111) 12:06 pm (13.5 hours ago)



Ive seen it used twice successfully.
once by getting ID location information from a chat client app that started/minimized to system tray when the system started. it automatically logged into the chat service and the techie contacted the chat provider (who helped him trace back to the isp) and then the isp (who gave up the location of the connection)

for number 2 the owner had a gmail account, was set to stay logged into gmail, homepage was http://www.google.com, which meant unless the thief data purged, if he connected to the net on that laptop google would update the activity log (which stamps to a file (among other things) the internet ip address of the connection. with all of that info plus the windows username and password for the machine he was able to remote access the computer a couple days later and got the thiefs identity because he had logged into his facebook account so he was able to read all of the guys vital information right off of his profile page.
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Re: Tracking stolen laptop?

Post by agroof on Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:45 am
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Amazingred wrote:First things first:
Do you have all the id information on the PC. serial numbers and the like?
Did they regularly use the internet?

There are a couple of quite slim options (not really hax1ng or coding but steps you can take) that might give you an idea of where to start looking if you answer yes to both of those questions....


No serial key but there's a chance our IT technicians might be able to give it to us, it's a small IT company and I think my dad might have bought the laptop through them in which case they might have it. I'll ask him if he did buy it through them.
And yes, he does use the internet regularly.

However, I asked my dad and unfortunately he didn't have the option enabled to automatically log in on any of his websites, so I think the best option is to take your guys' advice and just search craigslist etc, but unfortunately there's a large amount of shops around here that are pretty much fences, buying and selling "second-hand" goods - the owners know the stuff they're buying is stolen but don't care, they're also often very small and don't have websites.

And thanks for the advice guys, really appreciate it
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