Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Watching for Laptop Larceny

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Watching for Laptop Larceny

Article excerpt

Hurrying through the airport, you get a tap on your shoulder, and a concerned young lady tells you a streak of ketchup has somehow landed on your back.

What the ...? Damn. She offers a Kleenex. You put down your fully loaded, 100-gigabyte laptop, take off your jacket, and madly dab. Seconds later, you turn to go -- bye, your computer is already gone. You just fell for the condiment caper.

Portable computers have replaced suitcases as targets for ripoff artists, says Kevin Coffey, a Los Angeles police detective sergeant specializing in airport theft.

"They use small condiment packages to squirt the stuff on your back," Coffee said. "While one is helping you get it off, suspect two comes from behind and grabs your computer."

Another ruse: The flustered gent in front of you triggers the metal detector, then holds up the line by spilling his change. Meanwhile, his well-dressed accomplice is probably lifting the laptop you've already sent through the X-ray machine.

If you want your computer to squeal on the dirty little rats, consider the CompuTrace software recently unveiled by Absolute Software of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"It resides on a computer's hard drive and periodically accesses the modem without the user knowing about it and tries to call the center," says spokesman David Legg.

If linked to a telephone line, the computer phones in its serial number and number it's calling from.

Get wired in flight

Business travelers flying with laptops will be able to plug-in on board this fall. American Airlines has announced it will install 12- volt DC transformers with plug-in adapters on at least 10 Airbus 300s between Boston and New York and London.

The adapters should accommodate more than 90 percent of the laptops travelers currently use and laptop manufacturers have agreed to work toward standardization.

United, Delta and a number of other airlines are also working to install the technology. …

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