back to article Uni IT man stole £22k of Macs to pay for smack

A university IT technician stole Apple Macs valued at £22,200 and flogged them for £200 a piece at rail pawnbroker Cash Converters to fund his drug habit, a court has heard. Ironically named Kevin Lawless, who had been working at Southampton Solent University in the south of England, nabbed 24 computers from the campus - …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was he an Intravenous Technician ?

    It just takes one bad Apple to spoil the rest.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Sounds like he was a hardCore addict

      1. Colin Wilson 2

        A SmacBook pro?

  2. SVV

    Cash Converters

    I'm not saying they did anything illegal, but at what point should serious questions have been raised when the same bloke brought in yet another identical Mac and sold it for the same paltry amount? TThe third time? the fifth? The tenth? One could reasonably suggest that the 24th time was somewhat on the way to being a tad late in the day, if indeed it was the shop that was responsible for the police finally being alerted and the guy being caught. And that is before even getting to the point that 24 went missing before someone at the university twigged that there was something going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cash Converters

      100% agree. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask pawn shops, scrapyards, etc to have at least SOME responsibility to use diligence to ensure that they're not part of a chain that involves victims or crime.

      On a separate note, I hope this guy manages to get clean and find a solution for the pain for which he took drugs in the first place.

      1. Da Weezil

        Re: Cash Converters

        "100% agree. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask pawn shops, scrapyards, etc to have at least SOME responsibility to use diligence to ensure that they're not part of a chain that involves victims or crime."

        Cant speak for second hand dealers but in the case of scrap yards you might want to check out The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, which means you can't even sell your old car to a scrap yard or breakers for cash, despite the fact that it has/should have Official documentation to identify it. This is allegedly to help cut down on metal theft, I feel it is more about revenue and creating an audit trail to check business turnover.

        Of course there are still rogue scrappers - just as there are rogue second hand dealers, but most of the industry works under the act.

        1. rmason

          Re: Cash Converters

          I don't know about cash converters but i've used CEX for some game swapping etc.

          If you're selling to CEX you must have a verified account (proof of address etc) so I imagine cash converters is much the same.

          He's an addict in the grip of it, he wasn't making smart choices.

          Absolutely Cash converters should have asked questions after so many of the things turned up (even to different branches it will all be logged), but at the end of the day I imagine the court case would have been very open and shut. Some cash converters person will have said "Yep, this guy, here's his address." to the police. Sorted. Case closed.

          He needed money QUICKLY.

          Probably would not have been caught at all, or just for a lower number of thefts if he had the luxury (i.e not needing to run out and get smack) of time to sell them.

          Fake social media account and FB selling groups.

          Schpock, preloved, gumtree etc etc etc.

          Issue was he would have been stealing one to flog that day for drugs that day. Like I said earlier, he was not making smart choices.

        2. peterm3

          Re: Cash Converters

          It was introduced to stop people taking copper or lead and selling it with very little risk.

          I know of cases where rural phone lines were taken out with landrover and winch. I building I worked in had its lead roof taken overnight. Seems fair enough to have an audit trail to sell quite valuable "scrap" someone "found".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cash Converters

        3 years in Pokey should work.

        1. LewisRage

          RE: 3 years in Pokey should work.

          Yes, time in prison has been shown to both reduce drug use and improve behaviour on release.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Cash Converters

      Bigger question - why were the Macs not properly supervised / Find My Mac, thus making them useless, remote-wipeable and quite easy to identify as stolen?

      I hate Apple products, but I don't know of a way around supervision/activation lock/Find My XXXX when activated. Even wiping, firmware-wiping, etc. just say "Hey, this device is locked... sign in on your iCloud to unlock it", and any Wifi-joining instantly tells the owner where that device is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cash Converters

        "Bigger question - why were the Macs not properly supervised / Find My Mac, thus making them useless, remote-wipeable and quite easy to identify as stolen?"

        The fella worked in Uni IT and so may have just disabled such features.

        Or he didn't even know about the feature (unlikely) and just converted them to cash so soon after the theft that no-one even missed them.

        Or perhaps the devices just were not locked down as you say. Universities are not immune to hiring incompetent people.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "why were the Macs not properly supervised / Find My Mac"?

        Umm... The crook was caught. Who's to say that the Macs in question were not in fact properly set up with Find My Mac?

        It's only when you notice that you're missing your Mac that you activate the needful to track down your hardware.

        And while I'm at it, Macs aren't "lifestyle devices": they're useful gadgets used for doing useful things. Like this: <>.

        What's to hate about that, eh?

        (I remember when Mac aquariums were made from original compact Mac format cases. And I remember when rebooting the blasted things (Macs, not aquariums) was a multiple times a week exercise. I'm no fan of Apple-the-company, but Macs these days don't mess you about like that any more. They're actually really rather nice, if you like that sort of thing. And if you don't, there are plenty of alternative means to similar ends. Peace'n'love, man: the world has room for us all.)

    3. _Seb

      Re: Cash Converters

      Shit goes missing all the time on campus. Large open office spaces with lax children running riot. Walking with purpose is useful. People rarely stop you (once in a decade, at current rates) to check you are allowed to do anything. Periodic emails get sent round by security reminding people not to be stupid. Posters exist to show scale of issue. It's the same, I would guess, in any large organisation. It's actually surprising it got noticed and it seems the police were an easier task than HR.

    4. Spencer Tomlinson

      Re: Cash Converters

      On the assumption went to the same Cash Converters, which is highly unlikely.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Southampton Solent could afford 24 computers?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So 28 Macs give or take.

    I'll impart some cash converters (and others) wisdom here, buy for a quarter sell for half. 200 * 4 = 800, 22,200 / 800 = 27.75.

    You get more on Ebay and always check cex online before you sell anything on ebay, that's your starting bid price + your fees cost.

    I should get a job at money saving supermarket or a smack habit.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      I would guess it's a lot easier to trace a guy back from an account on eBay than it is from the local Cash Convertors.

      Fact is, once you get past 2 or 3, if you don't start being careful then you're an idiot. It wouldn't take long for someone to say "Hold on, didn't you bring me a Mac just like this only a month or so ago?". People might sell off their Mac for cash. But they don't do it and then re-buy one the next month and then sell that and then re-buy. After a while, even if they know what you're up to and don't care, they still have to report or it's them that goes down for knowingly fencing the stuff.

      Thankfully, criminals are generally dumb, especially if they're addicted to something.

      1. rmason

        Pawn type shops in england have to log and record anything sold to them and who sold it.

        If he'd used any other method to sell he'd probably still be doing it,

        But you can when you're an addict needing cash either right then or, of you're lucky, for tomorrow. Obviously we are light on details for the case but I imagine it was a very quick affair precisely because cash converters would have confirmed they were all him.

        Yes, they absolutely should have thought to maybe ask a few questions when he turned up with mac products 5,6,7,8,9----20,21 and 22.

        At the end of the day though the (probable) student or young person manning the counter couldn't give a flyer. It's their bosses problem as long as he or she ticks all the relevant boxes. they have to record it all and have the info should the police come looking for stolen wonders, they aren't supposed to be detectives themselves.

        Granted one doesn't need to be a "detective" to start to wonder why one guy has 22 iThings he wants rid of, one or two at a time, for an extended period.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He's a lifelong addict, I doubt his remorse is true. There is no mention of the impact on the Uni, Lock him up for stealing the future of our youth.

  5. derfer

    At least they make it easy to get the stuff back

    Back in he late nineties, when I worked for a high street electronics retailer, whenever we had something big stolen from the shop floor we would just wait a couple of days then go round to Cash Converters with proof the serial number belonged to us. They used to give us the stuff right back.

    If you didn’t involve the police then you could put it right back on the shelf, if the police were involved then it disappeared into evidence storage somewhere for twelve months.

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: At least they make it easy to get the stuff back

      According to a former workmate who now works for an NZ equivelent that is still the case. They have agents who regularly visit Cash Converters with lists of serial numbers to present and take back.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: At least they make it easy to get the stuff back

        Delivered 10 laptops to the Royal Marines, put them in a locked & secure area\data closet & obtained a signature for receipt.

        Back at work 20 mins later, barely in through the door.....

        "Those 10 laptops, got the sign off?"

        "Yup right here.... Why whats the urgency?"

        "Four of them have gone walkies."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At least they make it easy to get the stuff back

          Booties will take anything not fixed to the floor. ;)

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime

            Re: At least they make it easy to get the stuff back

            The REME would bring claw hammers or crowbars.

  6. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Damn you, nominative determinism!


  7. Chozo

    I wonder...

    How many of you are chuntering at the screen saying they could of done it without getting caught?

    I'll get my coat, you can search it if you like ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder...

      I'm weeping at the screen.

      Weeping because there are supposedly technically competent people who make *THIS remedial level English error.

      They could *HAVE done it without getting caught.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lawless by name...

    lawless by nature!

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    Haha, that would only happen in the South of England. We really are a scabby poor bunch. XD

  10. The Empress

    Macs are worth more per pound than heroin

    Seems like he should be stealing heroin to buy Apple products.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Ironically named"?

    Pedantic git here. Surely "Lawless" is quite an appropriate name, whereas ironic would be something like "Kevin Law"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Ironically named"?

      Reminds me of a car audio shop called Just ICE on The Cook Report. That was an ironic name.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think anyone who swaps a Mac for a bag of oblivion has finally understood the modern world,

    Very understandable.

  13. Stu Mac

    Perfect time to tighten up of their forkin background checks!

    Once a junk......

  14. rmason


    @Stu Mac

    What sort of background check could you do on me that would show I did drugs in the past?

    Unless i've got a related conviction, you can't.

    Let hope one of your friends, family or loved ones never makes a mistake eh?

    1. LewisRage

      Re: Eh?

      "What sort of background check could you do on me that would show I did drugs in the past?"

      How about : "Here... I've got a great big bag of smack, do you want some?"

    2. Stu Mac

      Re: Eh?

      so just fine if you have a conviction

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like