Thieves caught out as PCs 'phone home'

Tracking technology has helped police locate thousands of stolen machines, some from as far afield as Argentina, Macedonia and Saudi Arabia
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Computers that 'phone home' after being stolen are guiding police to the doorsteps of thieves across the world.

Tracking technology has helped police sniff out thousands of stolen machines, uncovering UK computers as far away as Argentina, Macedonia and Saudi Arabia.

West Midlands Police recently used the technology to make arrests and recover more than 30 laptops.

Alan McInnes, general manager with the Association of Chief Police Officers crime prevention initiatives, told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site, silicon.com, that the technology will help stamp out computer theft.

McInnes said: "The more widely this technology is used, the more the risk goes up and the more it will devalue the attractiveness of computer theft. This tracking technology has already proven itself useful for recovering large numbers of cars, its success rate is about 95 percent, and we hope it will do the same for computers. You not only recover the stolen property you are looking for, you often will uncover more stolen property and other related crimes."

The most effective type of tracking software is buried within the bios of a computer's motherboard during manufacture, making it resistant to hard disk wiping or removal.

When a stolen machine is connected to the internet it will contact a monitoring centre to report its IP address, allowing police to trace its location through the internet service provider.

Absolute Software claims its tracking and recovery software solution, ComputraceOne, has recovered more than 5,000 stolen computers worldwide.

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