back to article My MacBook Woe: I got up close and personal with city's snatch'n'dash crooks (aka some bastard stole my laptop)

There were two fleeting moments of confusion: first when he grabbed my laptop from under my fingers and took off racing out the coffee shop; and second, when it became clear that the license plate wasn't real. On Monday afternoon, at about 2pm, some bastard stole my laptop as I was typing on it. It was wholly unexpected. I was …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Well, at least it was only a Macbook they took, not something important like your life.

    1. Steve Button

      So, anything less than death is not worth writing about? What a stupid comment.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        I disagree. It's a valid comment, but doesn't say the article shouldn't be written.

        Equipment can always be replaced - it might be a PITA, it might cost. it might hurt, but at least it can be replaced.

        1. MonkeyBob
          Facepalm

          Hardware can be replaced but data can still be lost and can easily be more valuable. When's the last time you validated your personal backups?

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Constantly.

            All my data is synced to Carbonite and OneDrive. My main PC then syncs OneDrive to a second partition and to my NAS. I double check the status of the local backups on a regular basis and I've checked Carbonite is working on several occasions. I even do test restores from Carbonite now and then to double check.

            But, for most people, it isn't until you have lost information that you think about backups. My eldest daughter had 1TB of OneDrive and USB sticks, but never used OneDrive and didn't bother to tell me the USB ports on her MacBook Pro had stopped working... Until she drove home from Uni, only to find that she hadn't resealed the lid on her coffee thermos-cup and had slung it in the same bag as her Mac; queue lovely fractal patterns behind the glass of the display and a sugary syrup oozing out of the case.

            When she got a new MacBook Pro, the first thing I did was install Carbonite on it for her. And when that stopped working she contacted me straight away and, after multiple attempts to get it going again, we ditched Carbonite and I put Backblaze on it instead.

            1. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

              Carbonite is brilliant

              When dropbox messed me up Carbonite saved the day. Dropbox help facilities are the worse I have ever come across

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Carbonite is brilliant

                Well, "in my day", "we had (k)nights"!

                Plus, back then we knew that

                it's "bad, then worse, then worst"

                just like "good, better, best"

                So, you ought to write: "Dropbox help facilities are the worst I have ever come across"

          2. Chloe Cresswell

            Every time they are made.

          3. Aitor 1

            Backblaze

            I use backblaze, so I just dont lose anythong. Just in case I also have local incremental backup.

            That being said, I hate those lowlifers, and I am very sorry this happened to you, and during most of my work life I had spotty backups too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > So, anything less than death is not worth writing about? What a stupid comment.

        What a bizarre response. Do you always jump to the most extreme possible conclusion?

        1. David Nash

          It was the OP that mentioned life, not the reply.

          1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

            He said, and this is right: it could have been worse

            So why attack that when it's true?

            1. Radio Wales
              Flame

              If it had been worse - eg: Losing his life. He would not be caring about it at all right now.

              I beg to disagree. The very worst did happen. It was stolen in broad daylight from a 'safe' environment' under the noses of god knows how many people who wouldn't lift a finger and will spend months worrying about how some lowlife might figure a new way past all security and steal his life.

              No. the worst did happen. He has lost trust in his fellow man and will never feel the same about people ever again - both thieves and honest but inactive fellow citizens alike, probably permanently.

              I know I did.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                You ARE talking about San Francisco, with poop and needles on the streets (even apps for that), close to if not THE most dystopian urban area there is - and taking showoff expensive bling to a public place full of entitled homeless people - when a home office works fine for writing. If he learns not to do that gain, he's learned a valuable lesson. Don't flaunt riches to the starving, and gosh, don't live in a place like that.

                Most all of the is much nicer, and people who have things like morals - and brains. They can even tell what sex they are by looking in their pants.

    2. Outski

      So you know what important personal things were on it that hadn't yet been backed up?

      I had my laptop and the bag containing it nicked from St Pancras in London a few years ago, from right under my feet by a couple of professional thieves. CCTV was active, but not bloody recording anything (BTP weren't particularly happy with the station management when they found that out).

      The laptop was a work one, new, and insured with no PII on it. No harm no foul? In the bag was a toy car of my son's, my son I hadn't seen for two years thanks to the hostile environment, and a journal I'd kept through leaving Malaysia.

      There are more important things than a bit of hardware.

    3. Scorchio!!

      "Well, at least it was only a Macbook they took, not something important like your life."

      There is that, but what made me cringe is the lack of backup. Mine's automated and, from the laptop, goes straight to 2 x 4 Tb external drives. I've not had access to my home network for a very long time and have been living out of suitcases, so that's the best I can do for now, but I learned the art of backing up with Central Point's interface to my tape drive. It was a dream, better than my current setup. My OS? WFWG!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Somehow, my 7 year old Acer laptop with some missing keys, cracks and yucky screen doesn't get stolen

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    So you lost all your research on .....

    ..... the CIA plot to install Trump as president for life?

    ..... the faked moon landings?

    ..... the real agenda of the Illuminati?

    You need to be careful now, cos after the journalist gets their laptop stolen in the first act they normally end up in a traffic 'accident' in the second act!

    I think you're safe though cos it was a white sedan. If it had been a black SUV (with optional black helicopters) then I'd be crapping myself at the moment.

    All joking aside. I sincerely hope that you catch up with the scummy bastard, and are successful in depriving them of the next few years of their freedom.

    1. TMMITW
      Coat

      Re: So you lost all your research on .....

      This is definitely a targeted hit. El Reg is noted for blowing up Silicon Valley types who could easily hire crims for this kind of heist. Just where was Steve Jobs when all this went down?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So you lost all your research on .....

        "Just where was Steve Jobs when all this went down"

        Lying low.

  3. Steve Button

    That's horrible.

    Dude, I feel for you. Really shitty experience, and will make you feel paranoid and scared for years. And playing over in your head how you would have liked it to have played out? Stuff you just don't need.

    Get better insurance. Save your files in Dropbox or iCloud and then you don't have to think about backups so much.

    At the end of the day, it's just a computer and you can probably afford to replace it pretty easily.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: That's horrible.

      Don't buy overpriced Apple kit if you are in a snatch and grab area? Would you leave a grand (or even a ton) of cash lying on the table? No? Then get a Dell or Lenovo from last year's production that you can afford to lose.

      1. brucedenney

        Re: That's horrible.

        That is slightly true.

        If your laptop looks like garbage no one will try and steal it.

        Smash it up. make it look tatty and you are pretty safe.

        I wonder if you can get a beaten up laptop cover to go on your shiny new expensive laptop to make it appear to be worthless rubbish?

        The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target, if you have less good stuff on display and better locks, they will go next door, criminals are, almost by definition, lazy people and will always choose the easy pickings.

        1. Bronk's Funeral

          Re: That's horrible.

          My macbook is covered in anime waifu stickers, horrible black metal band logos and a couple of bits of PVA glue I smeared on there that look like dubious stains.

          Means I look like even more of a chozzler in a coffee shop than I would with a pristine mac, but I like to think that crims would be too embarassed to nick my shrine to thingy out of Evangelion.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          Covering an expensive mountain bike in tatty looking insulation tape and patches of scruffy paint used to be a common tactitc by people who rode their bikes in cities. As a bonus, the tape would protect the original paint work, should the owner one day want to sell it on.

          1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            Flame

            Re: That's horrible.

            I had my bike nicked once, from the cycle sheds behind the halls of residence. I reported it to the local police station, and they asked me to describe it. It was a lady's bike, brush painted Land Rover Green, with bright orange handlebar grips. "Oh, yes!", the desk sergeant said, "Somebody reported that a bike matching that description had been dumped in their front garden early that morning, and had brought it in to Lost Property". Apparently, it had been stolen under the cover of darkness, and when it got light, the thief had seen what he had nicked, and was so disappointed that he dumped it in the next garden he passed. My only loss was the chain it was secured with (or not, as the case may be).

        3. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          I had this backpack that I was given in the late 90s, nasty quicksilver bag that I used whilst skiing, for everything basically. By 2018, it was tatty as fuck, but still good enough to carry my laptop to and from work and keep it dry. Because it was so tatty, I never had any problems going to the pub after work and leaving my bag in the corner of the pub.

          However, because it was so tatty, my lady friend kept badgering me to get a new bag, and then she bought me a new bag because I didn't. Of course, I have to use the new bag. First time at the pub, someone nicks it (with me literally standing in front of it).

          1. Floydian Slip
            Windows

            Re: That's horrible.

            When I'm standing in a public space and need to put my laptop bag on the floor (currently in a bag that looks like a trad leather satchel) I always put one of my feet through the strap. That way, a potential snatch-and-grab might end up dropping the bag as it comes up short against my leg or, at the very minimum, I'll notice as should the strap break

            1. JLV

              Re: That's horrible.

              On a related note. If you have to separate yourself any distance from your bike without locking it (say paying for a coffee) crank down the gears to the max (up works too), without spinning the pedals. If someone snatches it and tries to ride away, the gears won’t engage right away and they’ll be stuck for a while.

              1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                Re: That's horrible.

                That's not good for your chain though.

                1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  That's not good for your chain though.

                  Better to loose a chain than the whole bike.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That's horrible.

            "Because it was so tatty, I never had any problems"

            I don't really use my laptop out and about that much, but I do have quite a nice camera which, with the lenses I take with me, cost more than 2 Macbook Airs, and follow the same tatty philosophy with camera bags - although still paranoid enough not to leave it in the corner of the pub! Shoulder strap wrapped around the table or chair leg (or me if suitable furniture not available).

            AC because I'd rather not let on who has quite a nice camera --->

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's horrible.

              Exactly! Not starting to compare camera sizes -mine's rather compact as compared to some SLRs - but carrying its body plus two lenses, that are easily worth ten Macbook Airs, in an ol' scruffy bag worked just fine so far. Missus started to comment on getting a new bag but the security guy inside of me refuses.

            2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: That's horrible.

              but I do have quite a nice camera which, with the lenses I take with me, cost more than 2 Macbook Airs, and follow the same tatty philosophy with camera bags

              I also tend to have a monopod with me when I'm carrying the more expensive kit. With a decent head on it, it's a telescopic baton with some decent heft, and justifiable. And I also do the legover thing to try to prevent quick snatches.

              I guess it can be a similar problem as with laptops, ie you're focusing on what you're doing rather than the surroundings. And it's natural to sit back to the wall so there's some privacy for whatever's on screen, but then leaves the laptop exposed to snatching & you probably on the wrong side of a table. CCTV could be interesting to see if the thief scouted around before going for most expensive looking. Then if the idea was to grab the data, or try and ransom the laptop back. A fair bit of effort for something with little black-market resale value though.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: That's horrible.

                "And I also do the legover thing to try to prevent quick snatches."

                Would you care to rephrase that.

                1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  "legover thing": probably strap around the leg, being it a chair's or human's. How this works while sitting at a table, working on a laptop, I can only imagine that it involves some mild acrobatics and results in something like Monty Python's silly walks sittings.

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    I take it you're not from these parts.

                    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

                      Re: That's horrible.

                      "Well, officer, it went like this - I met this girl in the pub, and we got friendly, very friendly, and while I was getting my leg over, some bugger came and snatched my camera"

                  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    "legover thing": probably strap around the leg, being it a chair's or human's. How this works while sitting at a table, working on a laptop, I can only imagine that it involves some mild acrobatics and results in something like Monty Python's silly walks sittings.

                    Yeh, it doesn't work as well if the lap is out the of the bag*. Otherwise, most laptop & camera bags have convenient loops, so stick chair/table leg through one and makes it harder for a sneak thief to grab it and run. Using your own leg tends to act as a bit of a sobriety test, if you're in the pub.

                    And for local snatches, the UK also has a problem with moped gangs that grab anything they can, so a risk if you're sitting outside a bar/diner.. or just on a pavement using your phone. It got me thinking about whether we could borrow from car's proximity keys to trigger actions if laptop/camera is out of range of it's owner.. But laptops like Macbooks don't exactly have space to retrofit anything, or even the simple Kensington lock/lanyard.

                    *Phrasing: See also 'debagging'.

                    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

                      Re: That's horrible.

                      "so a risk if you're sitting outside a bar/diner.. or just on a pavement using your phone."

                      Or even just a parked car - a few weeks ago on the way to a post-work pub session (5pm-ish, broad daylight) I and some colleagues witnessed a moped drive past a parked car, and almost without stopping the rider smashed the window, grabbed whatever was on the back seat and carried on. With the speed and precision that he did it, I imagine he must have done a recon pass of the street first to find a suitable target, and been well practiced at it.

                      When it happens that fast you do a double take before your brain catches up to work out what just happened.

              2. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: That's horrible.

                "monopod ... decent head ... telescopic baton with some decent heft"

                Bad move on my part was to 'upgrade' to a carbon fibre tripod with a detachable monopod. The thing is light as a feather - no use at all as an offensive weapon - even the ball head is ridiculously light.

                But come to think of it, the only camera or gear I've ever had nicked was a little Canon point & shoot (in a bar on Gran Canaria - I don't really want to talk about it), so it hasn't really ever been an issue.

                Then again, if anyone can run off with the 1DS iii and (say) the 400mm f2.8 without giving himself a hernia, good luck to him!

                1. Ol'Peculier

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Years ago I'd been to a match at Newcastle and had taken a 200 1.8L box to use as a seat whilst inside the ground. We left in a hurry before the end of the game and in the rush to chuck our gear into the boot (2 bodies with 600mm F4's and assorted bits and pieces) I left the box on the street behind the car.

                  Did I mention it had the lens still inside it?

                  Remarkably, somebody handed it into the police who called the office to say "somebody has handed a large lens in to us that's yours". Boss immediately thought large meant one of the 6's and was quite happy when we realised what we'd left behind. I still wonder to this day how so many people walked past a small box worth the same as a small car without realising..

                  1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    Probably for the same reason that my brain went "car engine?" when I saw "1.8L" - Average Joe doesn't know about niche equipment - they'll recognise a Mac, or a smartphone, but won't have a clue about the value of a camera lens.

                    That and most people are inherently good most of the time. Compound that with wanting to just get out of there, and the fact that the owner could literally be the guy next to them, people are generally going to not going to just pick things up.

                    I came across a notebook the other day - leather bound and clearly full of content - bound to keep it shut - while shopping. I ended up leaving it where it was, in case the owner came back for it, realising where it was. I did flag a member of staff as I left though, so they were aware.

                    Who knows what value any secrets in it could have held?

          3. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Trollface

            First time at the pub, someone nicks it

            And it wasn't someone who felt sorry for you having been badgered into using a non-tatty bag?

          4. Kernel

            Re: That's horrible.

            "I had this backpack that I was given in the late 90s, nasty quicksilver bag that I used whilst skiing, for everything basically. By 2018, it was tatty as fuck, but still good enough to carry my laptop to and from work and keep it dry. Because it was so tatty, I never had any problems going to the pub after work and leaving my bag in the corner of the pub."

            Many years ago an ex-colleague who was married to a Brazilian told me that when they went back to Brazil to visit family with he would carry his camera gear in the kid's used nappy bag and the used nappies in what was, to all appearances, an expensive camera bag.

            He never did tell me what the going rate for used nappies of dodgy provenance was.

            1. MrBanana

              Re: That's horrible.

              I used to go into town with my dad to bank cash from his business. He would put the money, a few grand, in my schoolboy's satchel for me to cary. He carried an impressive briefcase, with multiple locks, that was empty.

          5. AK565

            Re: That's horrible.

            I hope you're with a new lady friend.

        4. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          "when running away from a bear you don't need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun any of your mates" :)

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Re: That's horrible.

            "when running away from a bear you don't need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun one of your mates" :)

            FTFY

            1. g00se2
              Headmaster

              Re: That's horrible.

              Err .. "any" means - one

            2. jason 7 Silver badge

              Re: That's horrible.

              Speaking as someone who has in fact been chased by a bear, I can say it's an exhilarating experience.

              Plus now when I go to such places as the wilds of Canada etc. and some bearded Grizzly Adams type starts to tell 'us tourists' about what to do if a bear attacks I quickly tell them and brush it off. You should see their faces!

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Go

                Re: That's horrible.

                Who did you leave behind?

              2. JLV

                Re: That's horrible.

                getting _chased_ by a bear is not a good sign. you might have gotten lucky, but

                a) chances are you won’t often outrun a bear, they’re quick.

                b) being put in that position indicates somewhat of a likelihood that you mismanaged your encounter - if you were far enough away to run successfully then bear encounter protocol says back off slowly without locking eyes with them so they normally let you go.

                unprovoked unavoidable surprise attacks don’t usually end in “outruns” though bears can be fought off or played dead against, they’re not usually hugely motivated to kill you.

                it’s debatable with bears, but running from say a cougar triggers their predator instincts so unless you’re guaranteed a nearby refuge, iffy choice.

                i.e. i could very well be wrong, but seems you ought not to dismiss “Grizzly Adams” advice just yet, seems to me you rather need it ;-)

                1. jason 7 Silver badge

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  It was actually in a near urban environment in Whistler. Been out in the woods, smelt bear. Didn't see any.

                  Get back to the village, we walk round a corner, with bushes etc. and there 30 feet away is a bear. Okay it's a black one (if it was a grizzly...I wouldn't be typing this) but it's a large adult. It's out looking for scraps.

                  It sees me and the Gf. We see it.."Shittttt BEAR!!!!" we both say together.

                  I straight away stand still, tell my Gf to get behind me and walk back calmly to the cycle hire place across the bridge. She does so and I look at the bear and it looks at me.

                  Bear starts walking towards me. I start backing up. I go a little faster...it goes a little faster. I keep looking over my shoulder to see where GF is and she is getting away. I get to the bridge and by now the bear is ambling after me quite fast, I don't think it's enraged but curious. Still I don't want to make friends. It keeps on after me more and more enthusiastically. I'm not scared, just fascinated how it will turn out. I might get a sexy scar? Who knows?

                  Anyway bear is now quite fast, my heart is pounding..."What a great holiday!" I'm thinking.

                  I get across the bridge and shout to the guy at the cycle hire "BEARRRRR!!!"

                  He just gets his phone out and uses the 'Nuisance Bear' app and then a little old lady turns up with her little yappy dog. It sees the bear, it goes nuts at the bear and the bear just runs like crazy into the woods. Awwww!

                  Gf and I just stand there laughing, knowing we have a great story to tell folks back home.

                  At the end of the day, when shit like that happens, there are no rules or wise moves, especially if it's a grizzly. You either get lucky or you don't. So yeah I'd still take Grizzly Adam's advice with a pinch of salt.

                  But you know...make a noise like a yappy dog might work. At least I've been able to test some of the advice in a way.

                  1. JLV

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    doesn’t sound like you did anything obviously wrong. looks like the bear was unnaturally used to humans so all bets are off. and i can’t blame you for wanting to reach a nearby building. not looking at bear? well, easier said than done, innit?

                    good you came out ok and it does make a good story. Whistler area is full of the things but I can’t remember any deadly or even really serious attack there. Elsewhere in BC? happens, but rarely - https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-hiker-fought-back-with-knife-when-grizzly-attacked-conservation-officers-1.4529650

                    fwiw, urban dogs, not trained hunting ones, have been known to run up to bears, bark at them and then, when the bear charges, run back scared to their masters...

                    1. jason 7 Silver badge

                      Re: That's horrible.

                      Yeah luckily it all turned out fine. Gf reminded me after that I had got maple syrup in my hair at the all you can eat breakfast that morning.

                      Pure bear bait!

                      1. werdsmith Silver badge

                        Re: That's horrible.

                        At one of the entrances to Yellowstone I was given a bear encounter advice leaflet by a guy in a Ranger Smith hat, made my day! Boo boo!

                      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

                        Re: That's horrible.

                        ...I had got maple syrup in my hair...

                        Please, explain!

                  2. MJB7 Silver badge

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    I don't want to make friends

                    I can't imagine why not

                  3. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
                    Unhappy

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    When I was on holiday in the Blue Ridge Mountains (KY/TN border) there were Black Bears (I think) roaming around in the campsite. One couple had left their icebox on the back seat of their Beetle, and a bear saw it and demolished the car to get at it. The Beetle was torn in half, the bear had hooked his claws into the shut line between the driver's door and the rear quarter panel, and heaved the two apart, until he could retrieve the ice box and its contents.

                    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                      Re: That's horrible.

                      Was the bear's name Yogi by perchance? He would have had a hat and a tie if it was.

        5. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

          The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

          Absolutely. I've always parked my car next to more expensive ones, or ones which look like they might have something interesting in them, for this reason. I also never let things pile up in my car, I never leave even the least significant thing on display. Even charging cables are out of sight.

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

            Last time someone broke into my partner's car (a fairly modest Vauxhall), all they took were a pair of her prescription driving glasses.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

              Somehow, I've reached the ripe old age of 59 (in a week or so) w/out ever having heard of Vauxhall. Opel yes, but Vauxhall, no. I can name half-dozen other British automakers, but that that one. Thanks.

              1. Ivan Headache

                Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                Vauxhall is the oldest car maker in England, founded in 1857. The vauxhall name was adopted in 1863 and made its first car in 1903.

                It became part of GM in 1925 and then became part of Groupe PSA in 2017.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                  Vauxhall is the oldest car maker in England, founded in 1857.

                  My first car was a Vauxhall Viva. One of the last real Vauxhalls; soon after they became just RHD Opels with a different name badge.

                  1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                    Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                    My Vauxhall count is one Viva HB SL90, 2 Magnums (one saloon, one estate), two VX1800s, and one Corsa rally car (horrible thing!) I still hanker after a "proper" (RWD) Vauxhall - I wish I'd had a Senator!

                    1. MJI Silver badge

                      Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                      5 Carltons and Omegas

              2. Bill Gray

                Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                Note to downvoters : I'm not totally sure of this, but I don't think I knew about Vauxhall before becoming an El Reg reader (I'm a Yank). Similarly, I'm reasonably certain I'd not encountered words such as Septic (in the sense used to refer to me and my compatriots), sprog, todger, or any of several dozen other UK phases prior to reading these pages.

                I have, of course, noticed corresponding (albeit generally smaller) gaps in knowledge of US culture/language among the UK commentardiat.

                (If the downvotes are due to Opel being a German automaker rather than British, I can't argue with that.)

                1. DavCrav Silver badge

                  Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                  "(If the downvotes are due to Opel being a German automaker rather than British, I can't argue with that.)"

                  You mean French...

                2. unpale

                  Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                  Upvoted for "commentardiat"

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                Opel yes, but Vauxhall, no

                I'm not quite sure what the story is (feel free to Google it :) ), but Vauxhall is in the UK what Opel is everywhere else. Models are the same, just the branding and naming is changed in the UK.

                I had to get used to that too when I got to the UK.

                As it so happens, my first time driving in a right-hand steering car was in a Vauxhall, about a year after I had arrived. I took along my left-side steering car from the continent so that I only had one thing to relearn at the time instead of two, but then I was asked to drive this UK right-hand drive Vauxhall ..

                .. with two colleagues in the back ..

                .. at 17:00 going into London via Marylebone flyover ..

                .. which was my boss' car.

                At least I managed to only surrepticiously grab into the door pockets the first few times changing gear :).

                That was some decades ago - now I'm so use to driving on either side of the road with cars steering on either side that it only takes me a few minutes of paying attention before my brain fully tunes in and I can stop thinking about it.

                Anyway, I digressed :).

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

                  At least I managed to only surrepticiously grab into the door pockets the first few times changing gear :).

                  Being used to LHD it took a few days before my mirror reflexes became left+up, right+down.

            2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

              It's not without irony that our IT Security Chief, left his laptop in his unlocked truck last night.......

              You can guess how well that went & what fun he's had this morning talking to the police & his boss....

              Icon - No Laptop Sherlock

          2. MrBanana

            Re: The secret to security is to make your neighbour a more attractive target

            I have an old car, not obviously desirable, but valuable (perhaps only to me). If someone did want to nick it then they would be either: be knowledgeable enough to defeat the laughable locks; or just a dumb chancer who would cause a load of damage to the window, door lock and steering lock, and bodge the immobiliser. So I just leave it empty of valuables, and unlocked. Anyway, by the time they have figured out what the fuel consumption was, the thief will have abandoned it at the first petrol station.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's horrible.

          This is why my works mac book is covered in stickers and has dents in the case (it's also why I've not been offered a new one recently but cest la vie).

          And while it can be cleaned off, the stickers are relatively unique and would be identifiable enough to for it to be identified should it be spotted around in public (think obscure band stickers, brewery stickers and niece tech book stickers, plus brake pad sticker and two from local bars).

          I also carry it in a tatty satchel so it doesn't look corporate, basically as many ways as I can think to hide who or what I work for.

          As for working in coffee shops or bars, I try to go for the highchairs facing the window so that I'm physically in the way of the machine (meaning you'd have to move either side of me to get at it).

          That said if someone wants to take it and are determined enough these measures are probably all for naught but so far have served me well enough.

          That said, if it was nicked I'd set apple to nuke the data from orbit since its got company code on it worth an order of magnatude more than the mac.

          Plus I'd be gutted for losing the stickers.

          Anon for obvious reasons.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That's horrible.

            How is it suppose to connect to the internet? If not around an open wifi?

            Plus full encryption should mean it's impossible to get that data "nuke" or not?

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Headmaster

            niece tech book

            Has she written one or do you need one to make sense of her?

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's horrible.

          If your laptop looks like garbage no one will try and steal it.

          In principle I agree, but unfortunately, some of us have customers who may not appreciate that approach. If I were to go onto client site with something that looks like it has been dug up from underneath a stack of pizza boxes it would not go down well.

          That said, maybe I need to to talk a to game developer how to dress it like it's seen a lot of wartime action (which would also work really well for a journo's rep :) ).

          As for backup, mine does three separate systems: at home it's on Time Machine (which MacBooks continue to store locally until they see the TimeMachine storage again), every night it pushes a backup of critical areas into a remote storage server and every weekend it runs a Carbon Copy to-the-bare-metal backup to a bootable external disk: Saturdays regular incremental, Sundays it runs a checksum compare of all the files on the backup.

          Excessive? Well, it means I can resume my work pretty quickly after theft so maybe not.

          I hope the laptop shows up again and that they get the bastards. I would be interesting to know how many similar thefts have occurred because it sounded too well rehearsed to be a one-off.

        8. LemonTree3

          Re: That's horrible.

          Agreed with the make it less attractive. I had my laptop stolen in the SF Bay area too. Now my new one is covered with lots of random stickers like old well traveled luggage.

        9. Donn Bly

          Re: That's horrible.

          I wonder if you can get a beaten up laptop cover to go on your shiny new expensive laptop to make it appear to be worthless rubbish?

          Just cover up the Apple logo with an HP Sticker. They will think it is an out-of-date chromebook and leave it alone.

        10. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          make your neighbour a more attractive target

          "You don't have to be able to outrun the dragon - you just have to be able to outrun the rest of your party.."

      2. caffeine addict

        Re: That's horrible.

        I can't decide if I should upvote or downvote this.

        On one hand, telling someone to not flash expensive stuff is basically victim shaming, and some people buy Apple stuff for more than just the appearance.

        On the other hand, it's pretty unlikely the laptop would have been nicked if it was black and a little chunkier, and for most people the OS they use is pretty irrelevant. Also, you get to save half the original purchase price.

        A cable lock attaching the laptop to the table sounds pretty pointless to me. Unless it's really obvious (in which case it makes you look like a tit and a greater target as soon as you leave) then all it's likely to do is yank the laptop out of their fleeing hands, sending it crashing to the now coffee soaked floor.

        Best protection is the one used by my old boss - when he got a new laptop he stuck gaffer tape around the hinge area so it looked like it was broken. Of course, this also meant it looked like we couldn't afford new laptops... :/

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          Seconded. I tend to use a laptop cover that is scruffy and scratched purely to disguise the fact that I do have a pretty powerful piece of equipment there. It could be worse, I suppose... And yes, as much as it might look battered etc, having a good disguise for your equipment is often a life saver. :-)

          I've asked friends who break their phones (by dropping them accidentally) why they don't put bumpers/covers on them. Their response is often that they *want* people to know they have the latest and greatest. Call it a Los Angeleno, Valley and Bay Area affliction!

        2. 9Rune5 Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          On one hand, telling someone to not flash expensive stuff is basically victim shaming

          It is good advice not necessarily limited to people who have fallen victim to such crimes.

          The reality we live in is that certain neighborhoods and certain situations dictate extra caution and awareness.

          That statement doesn't mean we shouldn't work towards changing for the better or that unfortunate victims should not receive any help afterwards.

          I tell my kids to walk on the correct side of the road (the side where they will see oncoming traffic) and a bunch of other stuff of that nature. Doesn't mean I'm opposed to safer roads or punishment for those who drive their cars over some random kids.

          To not learn from these type of scenarios strike me as being unwise.

        3. This is my handle

          Re: That's horrible.

          >> for most people the OS they use is pretty irrelevant.

          This is probably truer than it once was, but still not quite.

          Having made the switch from Windows 10 to High Sierra within the last year I have to say there was a definite learning curve, and this from a guy who has been using bash (, ksh, tcsh, csh, sh) for 30 years on. If I logged my wife or kids (3 Windows users and one Chromebook) into my MacBook Pro I doubt they could do much with it. YMMV.

        4. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          "On one hand, telling someone to not flash expensive stuff is basically victim shaming"

          It really isn't. Safety advice isn't victim blaming. There's a difference between 'you might want to try x, y and z', and 'it's your fault it was nicked, you should have done x, y and z'.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's horrible.

          for most people the OS they use is pretty irrelevant

          Not for us. Although the initial use was intended as temporary (1 month eval), MacOS unexpectedly became an explicit, deliberate choice for laptops and desktops for us. For servers it's Linux or FreeBSD.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's horrible.

          Best protection is the one used by my old boss - when he got a new laptop he stuck gaffer tape around the hinge area so it looked like it was broken. Of course, this also meant it looked like we couldn't afford new laptops... :/

          I found that the very best protection is a handgun. Just shoot the fleeing thief in the back. He won't do it again, and in any civilised jurisdiction, you won't be prosecuted for protecting your own property. I have disabled three thieves in this manner in various places around the world (the last time was in the Guatemala City Marriott). I'm licenced to carry firearms in most places, and the Guatemala City Police were very happy to receive the wounded miscreant - they'd been seeking him for some time.

          Moral? Don't steal stuff, and you won't get hurt!

          1. M.V. Lipvig

            Re: That's horrible.

            "Just shoot the fleeing thief in the back. He won't do it again, and in any civilised jurisdiction, you won't be prosecuted for protecting your own property. "

            San Francisco is far from civilized. You are more likely to be arrested for defending yourself there than a criminal is for causing the harm to begin with. Only illegal aliens are allowed to shoot people in San Franciso, as the courts have proven. Kathy Steinle was shot down, and the illegal who did it walked. Illegals get first class treatment, criminals are next best, while the law abiding are treated as scum.

      3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: That's horrible.

        @Tom

        So basically

        1. Scout police reports every time you go out/ to a new coffee shop?

        2. Dont buy nice stuff thats portable.

        Do you realise what a dick suggestion you have just made?

        There's sensible precautions - don't go to dodgy area at midnight, then there's victim shaming - guess which side of the fence yours falls?

        Would you have posted this if he had a £2k Lenovo stolen? Or was it just a knee jerk reaction because it was Apple kit? Your "overpriced apple kit" snide remark gives you away.

        1. Tim Almond

          Re: That's horrible.

          "Would you have posted this if he had a £2k Lenovo stolen?"

          But he probably wouldn't have done. People don't steal Thinkpads like they do Macs because Thinkpads aren't status symbols. Someone who just wants a laptop for the web and writing their CV can buy a legit used laptop for £150, or from a donation (or probably even a skip).

          Macs are good machines, but they also have the status thing. People like to be seen with them. Everyone knows what's a new model vs an old model in a way that you don't with Thinkpads.

          1. John Sager

            Re: That's horrible.

            People like to be seen with them

            Too right. Every bloody film & TV series the protagonist has that bloody bitten apple leering at me from the back of the screen. I wonder how much Apple spends on product placement, or does it go the other way - the producer has to get Apple's permission - like using a song sample?

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: That's horrible.

              It used to be that Apple refused to spend money on product placement in TV/movies - like a point of principle*, but I guess that has probably changed - and any Apple kit that you saw was because the plot called for a laptop, and that's what they have around.

              I'm much more annoyed/amused by Microsoft product placement, which happens a lot on CBS shows. "Oh my god, the killer is getting away. Let me open up my Surface Pro (close up of the folding) and use Bing to find the route he is taking to the dogs. Quick McGarrett, I've skyped you the co-ordinates!"

              * Hey, they got to start having principles somewhere

              1. caffeine addict

                Re: That's horrible.

                It's cars that bug me the most.

                I first noticed it in Burn Notice when they damned nearly had a themed ad break for a Hyundai part way through the plot. Then weird lingering shots on stereos and reversing cameras in White Collar and Designated Survivor.

                I get why they do it. And I don't overly mind it. I just wish they did it _better_.

                Every Bond movie there's a list of product placement things appears in the press, but I don't think I've ever been overly aware of them watching the movies. The fact he liked Astons one year and BMWs another wasn't the end of the world. I guess the only thing that annoyed me was when it was briefly Ford focused and you had roads that only had Ford cars on them...

                1. big_D Silver badge

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Or Bones, where they actually talk about the nav system or the connected entertainment system, intelligent cruise control, hybrid motor, lane departure warning etc. in their Toyotas.

                2. Tim Almond

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Seriously? Bond product placement is obnoxious. It's so obvious to me when a shot is being done in a certain way (like how long it's held for) just because of a contract between the movie company and the product creator.

                  I don't mind product placement if it's natural. A character is going to be drinking some whisky, why not get Talisker to pay you some money and use theirs rather than another whisky. The problem is that the product owners want to know they're going to get something for their money and that it looks good. As Alex Cox once pointed out, you know if an aircraft is going to be in trouble if it has a fictional airline.

                3. Jay 2

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  I found the IBM product placement in Goldeneye to be some of the most jarring. More so than the BMW, Omega, or Parker pen (I think) in the same film.

                4. MrBanana

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  The worst case of car product placement I've seen was in Bladerunner 2049 - Peugeot??? Seriously! Or maybe it has condemned them to the same fate as Pan Am, as featured in the original film.

                5. Huw D

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Was the Ford Focus pun deliberate?

                  1. caffeine addict

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    Lets say yes...

                    *shifty look*

                6. MonkeyCee

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  C'mon, Burn Notice has seriously the funniest product placement. Spies eat yogurt :D

                  And drug dealers drink full fat Cokes, while DAs sip Light Cokes :)

                  1. Andrew Moore

                    Re: That's horrible.

                    One of the great things about astigmatism is it makes me see rn (and nn) as an m. So for years I thought that show was called "Bum Notice". Though might favourite has to be (sadly missed) Irish supermarket chain, Superquinn.

                7. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  The fact he liked Astons one year and BMWs another wasn't the end of the world.

                  Hang on, I thought "end of the world scenarios" were the main theme of all Bond movies?

                  /confused

                  :)

              2. Andrew Moore

                Re: That's horrible.

                I know that show- It had the line "I'll Bing that for you..." and I wondered how the actor said it with a straight face...

                1. Soruk
                  Joke

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  It's a Bing thing.

                  (Parents of small children will know)

            2. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

              Re: That's horrible.

              I remember in 30 Rock they showed Macbooks in the writer's room, and the credits said Furnished Courtesy of Apple

              Suggesting if you show off their kit they will give you it

              1. Michael M

                Re: That's horrible.

                Yes. That's the very definition of Product Placement.

            3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Big Brother

              Re: That's horrible.

              That, those that try to disguise its true origins by changing the icon to something like....a pear & Dell usually irk me in TV & movies, not sure why.

              1. slartybartfast

                Re: That's horrible.

                I've often seen Mac laptops with a circle or a fictional logo over the Apple logo. I guess that is when a drama or film doesn't have a product placement deal and doesn't have permission to show any products, so must disguise the logos.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Yes, it's just that that doesn't really work for us geeks. As a matter of fact, my natural pattern matching flags that immediately as an anomaly and it thus tends to actually draw my attention whereas I would have otherwise ignored it :).

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: That's horrible.

            Everyone knows what's a new model vs an old model in a way that you don't with Thinkpads

            Really? Not sure I could tell the difference at a glance. The first sign I usually have that this is a newer Apple device I'm dealing with is when none of the dozen VGA/HDMI adapters I have will fit.

            Also - talk of a USB lock - am I to understand that MacBooks no longer have Kensington slots? What an oversight!

            M.

            1. xeroks

              Re: That's horrible.

              Surface Book Pros don't have one either. Though they'd need to have 2 because of its screen/keyboard separation trick.

              the only reason I can think that neither has one is that it isn't possible to make sure the point of failure is the cable (i.e. it's not the manufacturer's fault if it does get stolen.)

              1. hplasm Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: That's horrible.

                "am I to understand that MacBooks no longer have Kensington slots? What an oversight!"

                >"Surface Book Pros don't have one either"

                Fish also don't have tits...

                "

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: That's horrible.

                  Fish also don't have tits...

                  Are you sure?

                  M.

            2. Tim Almond

              Re: That's horrible.

              "Really? Not sure I could tell the difference at a glance."

              And I probably couldn't tell the latest Nikes from last years, but there's kids who do. And you're cool if you have the 2019 Air Jordan plimsolls rather than 2018 ones.

            3. MrBanana

              Re: That's horrible.

              MacBooks have not had builtin Kensington lock slots for years. I have a Maclocks thingy that attaches on to the side through one of the regular case bolts. No deterrent if the thief has a few seconds and the right 5 star driver, but it would have saved the day in this reported case.

          3. Flywheel Silver badge

            Re: That's horrible.

            laptop for the web and writing their CV

            Or a Chromebook - they're very cheap and do the job. Docs stored in the cloud as well.

            1. jason 7 Silver badge

              Re: That's horrible.

              I still reckon 85% of Macbook users could switch to a Chromebook very easily and they will be able to but more than one coffee a day!

              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            2. Rainer

              Re: That's horrible.

              Any reputable journalist who writes about more than the 5'o clock bingo sessions at the retirement-home should not use any kind of public cloud.

              There are dropbox-like solutions that you can self-host. Use those.

              There's Zimbra, if running Exchange on premise is too difficult.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's horrible.

              Docs stored in the cloud as well.

              .. which is the EXACT reason I will never use one..

          4. Tikimon

            Re: That's horrible. - Bling status matters!

            Same effect, different product. When I got my new motorcycle (new to me anyway) I used a disc brake lock to prevent theft. Then I found out that my bike is pretty much never stolen. NEVER. New owners asked about that on the bike's forum and nobody had ever lost theirs. Plenty of humorous responses such as "If anyone stole your bike, he would likely pay you to take it back after his friends laughed at him and his fence cursed him out for wasting his time." Never used a lock since.

            It's a Suzuki V-strom, great bike but no bling appeal. On the other hand, a Honda CBR will get stolen with an armed guard watching it.

            1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: That's horrible. - Bling status matters!

              My nephew had his tiny Yamaha SR125 stolen from outside his GF's flat. It was secured with a D-Lock through the rear wheel, but otherwise not chained to anything (only a blank brick wall, so no securing point available). When he came out some time later - no bike! Reported it to Plod, who asked for the security camera footage, which showed a white van pulling up, two blokes getting out, lifting the bike into the back, and driving off. Unfortunately, the angle of the camera made it impossible to see the registration mark of the van, and the two heavies obviously knew where the camera was because they made sure that their backs were always towards it, so no possibility of recognition, AI or human. The bike was never recovered, despite some pretty heavy modifications to the frame, which would have identified it uniquely. Insurance paid out, but said that it had most likely been stripped for parts, and therefore unidentifiable.

            2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              Re: That's horrible. - Bling status matters!

              I vaguely recall a story from Amsterdam where someone locked their bicycle with an expensive, shiny lock, and the bicycle was still there when they returned.

              The lock, however..

              That rather appealed to my sense of humour :).

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That's horrible.

            Someone who just wants a laptop for the web and writing their CV can buy a legit used laptop for £150, or from a donation (or probably even a skip).

            I use MacBooks because I spent decades fighting with Microsoft Windows (from Win3.1 upwards), and I appreciate the fact that I now spend more time actually getting work done, which admittedly involves more than just writing text.

            Frankly, I think that anyone asserting that any device is bought purely for the shiny without bothering to check any background motives are feckless d*cks who show the exact tendency that we see on social media. I have used many an OS, including Windows, OS/2 Warp, SunOS, Solaris, HPUX, IBM AIX, Linux in its many variants, FreeBSD and NetBSD and even certified on some when I was bored, and I designed hardware and software for many of these platforms.

            I have a very deeply motivated reason for using MacOS but I see no reason having to justify to some random jealous w*nker why I use my equipment any more than I have no right to criticise people who do not use it - my assumption is that they have another basis for using the gear they do.

            If aforementioned w*nkers make assumptions without any factual basis it merely means they are a waste of bandwidth and not worthy of any attention.

            There are reasons why I intensely dislike Microsoft as a company and Windows and Office as products, but I don't think I have the right to hold it against someone that they're using it. I'm happy to engage in discussion why I would never return to that platform, but purely judging someone based on the gear they use? Nah. Some people don't have a choice, so that would be unfair.

            And I value ethical behaviour above all.

      4. big_D Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: That's horrible.

        My HP Spectre X360 is 3 years old now and I can't "afford" to lose it. And if I'm reading the story right, the stole MacBook Air wasn't new either.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's horrible.

        > Don't buy overpriced Apple kit

        That's one option. The other might be for Apple to fit Kensington lock points again. The thief trying to run out with the cafe table in tow would be worth watching on Youtube.

        1. kierenmccarthy

          Re: That's horrible.

          There's a lot of commentard nonsense in these responses.

          But in case anyone wants to know why I had a MacBook Air, the answer is extensively outlined in a story I wrote back in 2016: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/18/why_i_bought_macbook_air_instead_of_new_pro/

          And, yes, Apple should put Kensington lock points in all its laptops. I don't know why it stopped.

          Kieren

          1. M.V. Lipvig

            Re: That's horrible.

            Have you replaced it yet? That money you just spent to replace it is why. Had you actually had it locked down, you would still have it, and not need to replace it. Apple knows you'll buy another one, and they know the thief never will buy one, so it isn't in Apple's best interests for you to be able to lock your computer.

            My advice to you is to go ahead and nuke the laptop. Better to lose a little data now than to risk spending several years trying to prove that you are you and not 10 other people.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's horrible.

        > Don't buy overpriced Apple kit if you are in a snatch and grab area?

        I guess the author missed the sign on the coffee shop saying that they are an official smash & grab experience retailer.

        Seriously though, what a smug response!

      7. Davegoody

        Re: That's horrible.

        What a moronic response ! Don’t use an Apple device as a Lenovo is less likely to get stolen ?????? Don’t drive a Mercedes or BMW because a Lada is cheaper to replace than those, or don’t eat that steak tonight, have a cheese sandwich on supermarket bread as you may die overnight and it would be a waste of money.....

      8. Elsmarc

        Re: That's horrible.

        I pretty much did something like this around 1998. They were already getting weird in a lot of airports, and that was, of course, before 9/11. I bought an el cheapo laptop as a "throw away". I didn't keep anything on it but a browser and the connection software. I set up my home system so I could connect and screen share. That way, where ever I traveled I didn't have to worry about my laptop being stolen or checked (or confiscated for what ever reason) at an airport or border. Yes, it was a bit slow at times, but made my life a lot easier and more carefree.

    2. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: That's horrible.

      Sod DropBox, in future just make sure your files are backed up and versioned to BitBucket... Using Git, not Mercurial obviously...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: That's horrible.

        Re Mac Vs PC.... evidently the thieves consider MacBooks worth stealing, which suggests that Apple's security measures can be circumvented so that it can be used by someone other than the owner. The alternative assumption is that the thief sells it to a sucker (who then finds that they can't use it.) . Is is correct? Can the serial number be over-written or spoofed?

        Also, they put effort in their plan to steal a MacBook Air, instead of a more expensive Pro model. Does the Pro's security chip (with its formally Verified OS) prevent serial number spoofing (if that is indeed what is happening)?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: That's horrible.

          "Re Mac Vs PC.... evidently the thieves consider MacBooks worth stealing, which suggests that Apple's security measures can be circumvented so that it can be used by someone other than the owner."

          You're overthinking this. While people like you or me would think about all sorts of technical things when deciding what laptop to steal, this doesn't necessarily apply to all criminals. Some consider that, I'm sure, but many more might simply choose the mac because it looks expensive and Apple products are known to sell at higher prices on secondhand markets than the average device from another manufacturer. While some others like thinkpads also sell well, the criminals might not be able to identify those immediately.

          Here's my guess: these people either have heard from others or have discovered from limited experience that people buy Apple machines and pay quite a bit for them. They probably haven't seen that many people activating the security features; just because Apple has done a lot to make them user friendly doesn't mean that users know they exist. Therefore, the criminals have been able, at least most of the time, to erase the disk and sell it on without being caught. This may be their first victim to have locked the machine, encrypted the disk, or given the serial number out.

          "Also, they put effort in their plan to steal a MacBook Air, instead of a more expensive Pro model. Does the Pro's security chip (with its formally Verified OS) prevent serial number spoofing (if that is indeed what is happening)?"

          Once again, I doubt it. The air and the pro can be told apart, sure, but at a glance from the back they look similar--a thin metal laptop with a glowing Apple logo. There probably weren't any pros in the shop, or the criminals thought the slightly larger air looked more valuable than the smaller pro. Just because they planned their route in and out of the shop doesn't mean they scoped out their target. They might have planned to go in, grab the best looking laptop, and run out again. The security chips in the machines don't help much if the user doesn't enable them, so the criminals may never have had to deal with that before.

          1. dave 93

            Re: That's horrible.

            Sadly, the Apple logo doesn’t glow anymore...

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: That's horrible.

      Yeah, I use OneDrive and Carbonite for my data, synchronized and backed up automatically.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's horrible.

      How to protect your MacBook from getting stolen (Bear victim style):

      Step 1: Buy bricked iPhone that looks ok

      Step 2: Go to coffee shop

      Step 3: Put brick iPhone near expensive Mac Air

      Step 4: ???? (Thief steals iPhone first because it is easier)

      Step 5: Success

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: That's horrible.

      Similar event happened to a friend in London in summer 2015 in a coffee shop in London when someone "accidentally" stumbled into him, while 'the co-defendant' grabbed the laptop and ran.

      The good news was every time anyone actually switched on the laptop they saw "gimme back my laptop you thieving bastards" and so the thieves presumably could not get rid of it. After a week or so he got a call from someone saying that they had bought the computer from someone and would my friend be kind enough to give him the login password ... since, like, he had bought the computer you know.

      Just for once the lads in blue did their job and all were nabbed.

  4. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    The next thought is .....

    ..... do you have a way that those of us readers that enjoy your articles can help contribute to the necessary replacement?

    And when you have that replacement can you do a good article on the anti-theft/tracking software that you'll inevitably install.

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: The next thought is .....

      And a great article on the virtues of Time Machine and iCloud Drive....

      I upgraded my iPhone to the iOS 13 beta a couple of weeks ago, but due to an issue with a single app, had to downgrade. But, of course, you can't restore your data from iCloud if it's come from a more recent OS. So, I lost a few days of data. Not the end of the world, but such a simple mistake was enough to ensure that my backups are frequent

      Having had two laptops and an iPad stolen from home (in one heist), and having had all backing up automatically, I really can't stress enough how simple Apple have made this.

      I do feel for you. Especially a $2000 deductible.

      1. Alien8n

        Re: The next thought is .....

        Always backup before and after any upgrades. Unless you genuinely don't have anything on there that you can't afford to lose.

        IOS updates are notorious for breaking things. I use my phone to take voice memos, primarily interviews. Last major IOS update decided to delete all of my voice memos, 3 years worth of interviews gone in just a few minutes. Luckily I backup all my memos to a PC, but never assume anything is secure on your device.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The next thought is .....

      It's built-in, if you enable Find My Mac you get a guest account which is really honeypot account so the thief connects it to the Internet and it can report back to Apple's mothership, but I guess most people with experience of nicking Apple stuff know not to blunder into the guest account.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serves you right for being a hipster

    Macs don't have a socket for a Kensington lock.

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

      And yet Dell / Lenovos do. Seems superfluous on something NO-ONE wants to steal.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

        Not just other laptops, pretty much every piece of electronic equipment I can see from here has a Kensington lock slot. In fact, I thought Macs had them as well, did they get rid of them at some point?

        (Just looked, for £50 Apple will sell you a Kensington adaptor for your MacPro. Thanks Apple!)

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

          I have to wonder about the utility of that lock. It's great when you want to leave something on a table, like in a lab, but not as much if you're using it at the time. At best, the thief grabs the machine and runs away, only to find that they can't. Then, they drop the machine and run off. You may still have the machine, but it's now just been dropped, probably with some force. In addition, since they were running and probably tried pulling hard to separate the lock from the machine, it probably also has damage from such forceful tugs on the lock. However, the lock might also signal to someone that you have an expensive machine and they should come get it when you've undone the lock and are putting it away, which wouldn't help at all.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

      Firstly, Kieran, sorry to hear about the theft and the awful experience you went through, and an insurance policy that was less than helpful with its $2000 excess (what we call a deductible this side of the pond). At least you were able to relate this to us readers with an informative article.

      FTA: "The only real solution at this point is a laptop lock that fits into your USB port with a steel cable that you can then attach to something solid.", and also in reply to AC above.

      My older non-retina MacBook Pros (the ones that had optical drives) DO have Kensington lock sockets (17" and 15") but my non-retina MacBook Air (that I use at work) doesn't. I guess the chassis isn't thick enough or strong enough for a lock, and considering it's supposed to be an ultra portable they're expecting you to carry it with you rather than leave it locked to the desk. I take it home each night for that reason rather than risk leaving it at work.

      I'd be wary of using a USB lock thought, although I appreciate it's your only option with a MBA. A good yank on that - on any laptop - would likely wreck the port and take out the MB it's attached to leaving you with a buggered laptop. Some may consider that much of a muchness compared to an outright theft although when the thief is yanked back to the floor by the sudden lack of steel cable it may be easier to pin him/her to the floor while waiting for the cops to arrive.

      Of course the bigger point here - as alluded to in the article - is why anyone would have to consider locking their laptop to the desk when they're actually fucking using it. These are truly sad times - especially if people are pinching laptops just for the thrill.

      Pint - I bet you need one after all that traipsing around to the cop shop.

      1. Christian Harten

        Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

        To make it portable: Kensington or something similar on one side, handcuff on the other ;) Bonus points for taking it to the toilet with you.

      2. kierenmccarthy

        Re: Serves you right for being a hipster

        So, Apple stopped putting Kensington lock slots in its smaller laptops - I think it still has it in its Pros. I think this is a terrible decision on Apple's part.

        Have researched decent locks for the Air. Short version: USB locks are not good. Just not designed for this sort of thing (but, of course, they could be if Apple thought about it...)

        Best lightweight solution is something that uses the machine's screws to hold a lock point onto the chassis. Not perfect but probably enough to prevent the kind of theft I experienced. Next step up is larger stuff that you glue onto your laptop - this often go at the back and raises the laptop up a little.

        Most solid is a larger piece of kit that you either slide the laptop into or slide onto the laptop when it's open. And then lock into them. Greater security but not good if you want to be portable - more useful for a desk you keep returning too rather than a coffee shop solution.

        Thanks for your response

        Kieren

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "Macs don't have a socket for a Kensington lock."

      Just wait for the $999 proprietary iLock being unveiled next....

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "Macs don't have a socket for a Kensington lock."

        There is also the option of a fake lock, enough to deter a would-be thief. You could make one with a usb cable, steel braiding, an old Kensington lock etc.

        One could also partially secure a laptop to its bag with a piece of ribbon between the screen and monitor.

        It also strikes me that a thief might hesitate to grab a laptop that has several USB cables (mouse, power, external harddrive etc) coming out if it... it would make a clean snatch harder to pull off.

        1. Christian Harten

          Re: "Macs don't have a socket for a Kensington lock."

          Or just put a heavy chain across it?

  6. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    The laptop was on and you were logged in...

    ... Does it think you are still using it?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: The laptop was on and you were logged in...

      Thief will likely have closed the lid for portability. If he's sensible this will mean a login when the lid is lifted again. My Mid 2010 Pro does that before it's even properly closed.

      It doesn't have a lock socket but, despite being good and thick enough.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The laptop was on and you were logged in...

      Obligatory supercilious Penguinista comment follows...

      Of course, if you run Linux you can write your own app to monitor the internal accelerometers and have it auto-lock when snatched...

      [icon: need a joke + penguin combined icon]

      1. joeW Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The laptop was on and you were logged in...

        You can certainly talk about doing it at least.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: The laptop was on and you were logged in...

        "monitor the internal accelerometers and have it auto-lock when snatched..."

        .. or the next time you run for a train.

  7. trevorde
    Trollface

    Better off...

    ... with a ChromeBook!

    </troll>

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Better off...

      In this situation it seems to be just what the Chromebook was for so why the troll?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lesson learned..

    Don't sit in a public place with no situational awareness and £1500 sitting in front of you.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Lesson learned..

      From TFA: "I have always been careful about where I sit when I use my laptop in public. In this case I was in between three tables with my back to a wall, facing the doors. The laptop was close to me on my side of the table."

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Indeed

        I wouldn't have chosen better myself. The bastard that pulled that heist must have been present and waiting for an opportunity. He saw it, and took it without hesitation.

        The fact that nobody moved to stop a thief is a sad indication of the morals of our society today. That only one guy stood up after and offered help is good on him, but it would have been better if someone had tripped the thief.

        Then again, with someone so obviously determined, it might have gotten ugly. Better off the police deal with that bastard.

        1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

          Re: Indeed

          I can imagine being an observer in the situation, it could take me a few moments to think what the fuck is going on, then many hours to think how I could have made it different.

          1. paulf Silver badge

            Re: Indeed

            This is it - people tend to be absorbed by what they're doing (and not just the ones listening to headphones) and it takes time (like a few seconds) to realise that suddenly things are going off script big time. It's surprising how much can happen in just a few seconds while waiting for people to realise and react to it. I guess that's how these grab and run things work. I think @Doctor Syntax makes a similar point below.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Indeed

          "The fact that nobody moved to stop a thief is a sad indication of the morals of our society today. That only one guy stood up after and offered help is good on him, but it would have been better if someone had tripped the thief."

          In reality, people's reactions aren't usually that fast. The thief was acting on a pre-determined plan, he knew he was going to snatch and run. Everyone else, even Kieran, would have taken a little time to realise what was happening. Occasionally someone does react fast enough (and too fast for the thought "Is he armed") but that's the exception.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Indeed

            I once stopped a purse grabber from a coffee shop, just put my leg in front of him has he dashed toward the open door and then several people grabbed the guy and pinned him to floor until the cops arrived. I didn't really though the situation through, I just reacted.

            1. MrBanana

              Re: Indeed

              I did just the same to someone doing a runner from Home Depot. Not sure exactly what they had nicked, but I had enough time to see him running down the corridor, with a couple of guys obviously in pursuit, to make the decision to jerk out my leg and trip him. In a busy coffee shop, with little time to make a judgement call as to what was going on, I probably wouldn't have been able to react in the same way.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Indeed

                "Not sure exactly what they had nicked, but I had enough time to see him running down the corridor, with a couple of guys obviously in pursuit"

                How did you know it wasn't two bad guys with murderous intent chasing a victim?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Indeed

                  The runner's expression will tell their intent.

                  A victim running from murder will want help from others, and try to seek help or warn others of the danger.

                  A thief running from someone will want no help from strangers, and try to push people out of the way.

                  1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                    Re: Indeed

                    Unless its hollywood in which case everyone gets pushed out of the way

            2. Jamie Kitson

              Re: Indeed

              I was once sitting outside a cafe with two friends. Someone jumped out of a car, grabbed their bags which were on the floor at their feet and ran back to the waiting car. Before I had thought about it I jumped up and ran after him, he got in the car and closed the door. Just as I reached for the door handle my thoughts caught up with my actions and I wondered what the hell I thought I was going to do and didn't reach for the door handle as the car drove away.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Indeed

              I once was lucky enough that a friend alerted me to a possible pickpocket when someone bumped into me in Spain, I was like "naah, it's nothing it's all O...... Oh shit my phone's gone".

              Luckily, being a pickpocket not a snatch-and-run, the guy had sauntered off with a quick walk rather than a run, So I told my friend to call me and ran after the guy, and asked (in possibly unintelligible pidgin-Spanish) to get my phone back. He tried to pretend he didn't know anything until my phone rang in his pocket. I made a grab for it and he let me get it back, at which point I realised I was close-to-alone in a possibly dodgy unknown neighborhood and legged it.

              Of course that was all done in a blaze of adrenalin without any further considerations eg that might be a knife in his pocket not my phone. Luckily he was a small guy, I certainly wouldn't have felt as comfortable with someone my size or bigger.

              I chalk that one up to pure luck as I'm sure it's only a very small minority of pickpocket victims that recover their goods.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Indeed

                Just watch the film "Focus" to see how professional teams do pickpocketing. I don't think I'd pick up on it until it was too late (even after watching how it's done), it's amazing how it's done.

                Apparently they had real pros training them for it, although I wonder how one would get hold of a pro short of arresting one :).

        3. el kabong

          "nobody moved to stop a thief"

          Would you have moved to stop the thief if you were there? Would Kieran have moved if it was someone else's laptop being stolen?

          There are cases where victims were assaulted by do-gooders who mistook the victims for the aggressor, you can not always be so sure you are not misinterpreting the situation, you must be aware of that.

          1. Alien8n

            Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

            So many people thinking like the British that we are. Read the article again, this happened in San Francisco. Would you attempt to stop a thief knowing the probability of them being armed is getting close to 100%? If this happened in London there's still a good chance of getting stabbed while stopping a thief, but anywhere in the USA and you risk being shot which has a far larger chance of being fatal.

            Remember, humans tend to be a risk averse species. The higher the chance of being killed by acting, the less people will react.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

              I can't tell whether you're serious. It's certainly possible that someone who has never been to San Francisco (or the United States in general) could get the impression from reading certain virulently anti-gun media outlets or watching too much American television that everyone walks around carrying 3 or 4 handguns at all times, with routine gunplay on every town's Main Street. However, the truth is that for practical purposes, handguns cannot legally be carried by anyone other than the SFPD in the City of San Francisco. Yes, just like in London (sadly, the SFPD are all armed, and are by far the greatest danger to you). Open carry is illegal, and while it is possible in theory to get a concealed carry permit for one of a tiny number of specifically allowed models, in practice the Sheriff doesn't issue them. There is probably nowhere in the United States that you are less likely to encounter an armed civilian.

              Even in places where open carry is legal, it is very uncommon for anyone to do so. That includes common criminals and most especially professional thieves, who are well aware that being caught while armed will guarantee that they serve a prison term for multiple felonies (or even killed themselves), while otherwise they will almost certainly get probation for a misdemeanor. There are indeed gangsters who go around armed at all times, mainly on their turf in the most dangerous parts of larger cities. I'm sorry to inform you that this is true worldwide, including in jurisdictions that strictly prohibit all private ownership of firearms. They are not the ones doing snatch-and-grab laptop thefts at posh SoMA coffee shops, and there aren't all that many of them. They also don't care who sees their faces, wouldn't bother thinking up the fake license plate, and would much more likely have been waving the gun around and robbing everyone like the guy in Oakland did than running away; an armed gangster feels no need to run! In truth, the probability that this thief was armed with a gun, far from "getting close to 100%", was less than 1% and for practical purposes could be rounded to zero.

              And yes, Americans know this, and would think about this situation in the same way as British people. Unless there's a specific reason to believe a person is armed (e.g., claiming to be armed, waving a gun around), it's not a consideration.

              Sorry to ruin your fantasy!

              1. Alien8n

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                Actually it's the impression I get from most of my American friends who tend towards the "the answer to gun violence is more guns" end of the spectrum. Other than their position on guns they do tend to be quite level headed. I'll take it that my impression is tainted by knowing far too many Texans.

                Also, I was not implying that gun ownership in general would mean nearly 100% of people would be carrying. My comment was regarding the chances of criminals carrying guns, and there it really depends on the person committing the crime. This crime was not a random act of theft done on the spur of the moment. It was planned, only the victim was chosen at random. If you read the article there's even a reference to someone who robbed an entire café at gunpoint, so the idea that no criminal is going to be armed falls flat. The chances are at some point the person doing the robbing will be armed, and as I stated humans are in general risk averse. I'll accept that it may not be nearly 100% of criminals being armed, but it's certainly more than enough to stop you from responding.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                  Armed thief or not, you have to understand the psychology of some of these criminals. This isn't like a polite British cop show, with the "Come along now. The jig is up." They will fight, often to the death (yours or theirs). Sometimes over something as small as selling untaxed single cigarettes.

                  1. jmch Silver badge
                    Meh

                    Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                    "They will fight, often to the death (yours or theirs). Sometimes over something as small as selling untaxed single cigarettes."

                    It's actually the US cops who are willing to shoot men selling untaxed single cigarettes without knowing if they are armed. So it's no surprise some criminals arm themselves and are willing to shoot over something trivial... which in turn explains why US cops are so trigger-happy. It's a vicious circle of mistrust that begets preemptive violence.

                    People who argue about the veracity of the mantra "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" are missing the point. Both in combination is what kills, and gun control, while needed, is only part of the equation. The much bigger problem is mistrust, especially racial, that is grounded in centuries of hate and fear of "the other", and it is a uniquely US problem because of the very particular history they have of slavery and defacto apartheid even after slavery was abolished.

                    Changing that dynamic would require decades of rapprochement, education, and civic leaders on all sides to get their followers to chill out a bit more*, but in the last decade or more what we've had is a ramping up on all sides of rhetoric of divisiveness and hatred, and things most probably will get worse before they start to get better.

                    *in this respect, perhaps the solution to so much violence, gun-related or not, is federal decriminalisation of weed :)

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                      "It's actually the US cops who are willing to shoot men selling untaxed single cigarettes without knowing if they are armed."

                      The incident to which I am referring isn't one where a suspect was shot. He was placed into an (illegal) hold which cut off his breathing as the police struggled to place him in handcuffs.

                      It's not the first time this has happened either. There have been incidents where suspects continued to struggle against restraints (handcuffs) until they died of a heart attack.

                      "Changing that dynamic would require decades of rapprochement, education, and civic leaders on all sides to get their followers to chill out a bit more"

                      Maybe. Perhaps the police could be trained to operate with greater restraint when serving warrants. And if the suspect escalates the violence beyond a certain point, they should just let them go. In fact, a peaceful signal could be arranged between law enforcement and criminals wherein the latter could indicate their willingness to use violent or even lethal tactics to resist apprehension. And the police could then respond with, "Sorry about that sir. I guess we'll just be letting you go on about your business. Have a nice day."

                2. M.V. Lipvig

                  Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                  Oakland is also in California, and California makes it hard to own a gun. In areas where gun ownership is easy and concealed carry is allowed, there is less crime because the criminals can't be certain that their victim isn't armed, or that a passerby won't come to their aid. Criminals must be far more careful or they might die. A smash and grab like this in the state I live in would be highly unlikely because criminals can't count on making it to a car before getting plugged. It doesn't matter if there isn't a single gun in the shop, because they can't know that nobody is armed without trying and if they try and someone is armed, it might be the last thing they ever do. Concealed carry is a boon for the law abiding because of just this, because it makes life harder for criminals.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                I work with a number of Americans who live in Kennesaw GA. That’s a city that mandates every household has a gun and a state that has concealed carry permits allowing people to take guns to church, bars, schools and even parts of airports under the Safe Carry Protection Act. It’s also a Stand Your Ground state. I would not be comfortable stepping off a plane in Georgia and would resist any request to visit with my colleagues there.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                  From an Anthony Price story partly set in Georgia: "It's right there in the Constitution, the Right to Get Shot except they call it the Right to Bear Arms".

              3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                "However, the truth is that for practical purposes, handguns cannot legally be carried by anyone other than the SFPD"

                And nobody intent on stealing laptops would dream of doing anything illegal.

              4. Dawud

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                I think you will find that all the States must honor a permit issued in another state. This is why so many of us get a permit from the great state of Florida for concealed carry. Florida's requirements are pretty lax!

              5. Disk0
                WTF?

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                You're telling us to assume criminals in the US are mostly unarmed? And we are supposed to believe this, becaus ethere are no actual statistics of gun homicides is the US versus any other country in the world.

                Do remember, killing somoene with a gun is generally against the law even in the USA, so doing so automatically makes someone a criminal, even if they weren't after y'alls pruppaty.

              6. M.V. Lipvig

                Re: "nobody moved to stop a thief"

                To compound matters, San Franciso is a place where you are more likely to be arrested for assault for stopping a criminal than the criminal is for committing the crime, AND if the criminal then sues for injuries received because you stopped him, you have an excellent chance of being forced to compensate the thief. If I had been there, I wouldn't have lifted a finger to stop him either. In most other US states though, where the law is on the side of the law abiding, I would gladly have stopped the thief if able to do so.

        4. Barry Rueger

          Re: Indeed

          The fact that nobody moved to stop a thief is a sad indication of the morals of our society today.

          No, in the US of A it's an indication that that there's an even chance that doing so would get you shot.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Indeed

          New York? A youtube posted a teen (or near) with some mates, checking out the stores charity/tip jar... they hung around for 10 mins, got the phone charged ("please Sir, can we use your socket") did lots of shifty, but what looked like just plain old teen angst stuff... then ran off with the jar. 3 people watching, cameras, the lot. :/

          1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            Re: Indeed

            This is why a few of the local coffee shops have tip boxes with no bottoms.

            1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
              Devil

              Re: Indeed

              When I worked in a pharmacy, we had a charity box on the counter, next to the till. One customer came in, presented his prescription, which of course has his name and address on it, and while waiting for the meds to be prepared, slipped the charity box inside his coat. As soon as he left, the manager called the cops, and they took the CCTV tape and the prescription with them, and arrested the miscreant as he arrived home. After that, the charity box was attached to the till with a padlock and chain.

    2. Ian K
      Trollface

      Re: Lesson learned..

      "Don't sit in a public place with no situational awareness and £1500 sitting in front of you."

      You used the wrong icon. I think the one to the right's what you were looking for.

  9. joeW Silver badge

    The "Cowards" comment

    "everyone in the coffee shop, save two guys who came and talked to me afterwards, chose to ignore the whole thing and wouldn't even make eye contact afterwards. Cowards, I muttered under my breath."

    Mate, I'm not sure why you think other people should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy. Fair enough, if you were being beaten or otherwise physically harmed, calling people cowards for not intervening would be somewhat justified.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: The "Cowards" comment

      @joeW: "I'm not sure why you think other people should risk their necks"

      Because he expects other people to not be cowards. You seem to think that someone who won't stop a robber would stop an assailant, and that is quite frankly absurd, if you haven't got the cojones to block some dude's exit, I doubt you're gonna get brave and take a punch for someone.

      1. joeW Silver badge

        Re: The "Cowards" comment

        I've stepped into fights twice in my life, and in one of those I took a few hefty hits and needed three stitches for my trouble. I'd do it again if someone was getting beaten on, but no fucking way would I do so for someone else's laptop or phone.

        1. PeterK13

          Re: The "Cowards" comment

          Don't know about the people in the cafe mentioned here, but if this happened in a cafe I was in I might well not believe what I was seeing quickly enough to do anything.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The "Cowards" comment

        Yeah, get brave, take a knife or a bullet for someone else's laptop. It was the middle of San Fransisco, not Hemtpon-Under-Wick in the Shires (where some goit would've chucked something nasty in the owner's face before snatching the shiny and disappearing on the back of a stolen moped). Morgue's full of heroes who had 'cojones'.

        1. Andre Carneiro

          Re: The "Cowards" comment

          Morgue’s also full of cowards. We all end up there eventually.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: The "Cowards" comment

            I'm tempted to say some take longer than others but IME it's only the sudden deaths that end up there. The rest just go direct to the undertakers.

            1. jmch Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: The "Cowards" comment

              "I'm tempted to say some take longer than others but IME it's only the sudden deaths that end up there. The rest just go direct to the undertakers."

              Technically correct, but I doubt the residents at either the morgue or the undertakers are in a position to know the difference

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: The "Cowards" comment

                Those of us who haven't yet reached either know.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

      It's not the shiny toy - it's what it has on it. Losing your data may be far worse than the $1500, and put you in bigger troubles. In such a case, you too would welcome any help.

      1. Bronk's Funeral

        Re: "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

        Right, but whos going to yell 'stop that man—he's stealing my laptop, which as well as having a hefty financial value also contains many months of work which I haven't backed up, and several gigabytes of photos and video of my recently-born child which I also haven't backed up! I'd be terribly grateful if one of you could trip him up as he- oh, he's gone'

        Just wouldn't be practical. And while I feel for this imaginary bloke I invented just now whose wife is probably going to kill him, I'm not risking my neck to protect his shiny tech toy. I like my neck.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

        It's not the shiny toy, nor the data on it, but rather the core principles that separate civilised people from savages. Principles like the right to property and the rule of law. I don't give half a shit about the shiny, but those are values worth taking on a modicum of corporeal risk to defend. And, really, even if the thief is armed (most professional thieves aren't), it's difficult to use a weapon when you're holding the thing you just stole and trying to push your way past someone and through a door. Small risk, large reward. People who refuse to defend civilisation have no right to enjoy it.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

          I might not have intervened, probably because it'd take long enough for me to understand what was happening that I couldn't do anything. But afterwards, when the victim is asking people to witness, I'd definitely step up, no risk involved. Even if all I can say is "I didn't see much, but I can corroborate that I saw a guy running through here with a laptop, and you were chasing him so it was probably yours", I'll do that. Doing nothing while the crime happened is understandable, as it probably took about twenty seconds. Keeping silent afterwards is not very nice, because you could just say "I'm afraid I was facing the other way and didn't see anything" if that's the case.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

          "People who refuse to defend civilisation have no right to enjoy it"

          All the more reason for getting your concealed carry permit. Social responsibility sometimes requires preparation to be fully effective.

        3. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: "should risk their necks to protect your shiny tech toy "

          In an unexpected, confusing situation (which this would be for people just sitting around in a cafe) then would take quite a while for most people to realise whats going and process the situation and react (by time they have worked out whats going on the thief will be long gone) - most people do not have an amazing ability to, when seated and relaxed, fast, process a complex situation (most of which they would not have been initially looking at & might not have heard audio cues if headphones) and take action . It's not as if people are sitting in a cafe super alert waiting for trouble, they are typically quite relaxed.

          Given the victim was unable to react fast enough, really no chance of any other people doing anything.

          Lots of people think if an occasion such as this arises they will be swift, super decisive, doing the right thing, but chances are they will be struck by flood of confusion and indecision & by the time they are ready to do anything useful the moment that would be effective has long passed by

          There's a reason people who need to react to the "unexpected" (e.g. close protection officers) do an awful lot of training, it's to reduce chance of that initial WTF delay: Most people do not spend all their day on alert, expecting the unexpected.

  10. Tim Almond

    Sad

    It's an awful experience. Not just because of the cost, but how it makes you a bit more paranoid about it happening again.

    "You can only get one laptop with this kind of snatch-and-dash effort. I doubt the resale value of an old Macbook Air, no questions asked, is more than $150, which is very little payoff for the risk. It only makes sense if thrill seeking is a key component of the crime."

    Firstly you have to remember that criminals generally aren't very bright. The average take on an armed robbery is tiny, a couple of thousand dollars, and that's a decade in jail. They don't generally think they'll get caught. And if you can do one of these every hour, $150 split two ways isn't bad.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Sad

      "They don't generally think they'll get caught."

      This is the crux of it. And the trouble is that they're almost certainly right.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They'll almost certainly be caught

        Not for this theft, but if they doing it regularly you only have to have one person stick a foot out to trip the guy on his way out the door. Someone else puts a knee in his back to hold him down while the cops are called. His friend in the car no doubt does a runner, and he no doubt gives up his friend in exchange for a lighter sentence when he learns he's committed a felony and looking at a few years of prison time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They'll almost certainly be caught

          " when he learns he's committed a felony and looking at a few years of prison time."

          More to the point, if he has already been convicted of a felony, he is unlikely to get any reasonable job, and therefore crime is the only option.

          Note that felonies include copying one Disney movie for personal use.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Sad

      Having had the odd thing nicked in my life (who hasn't?) I can sympathise with the feelings it generates: why me? could I and should have done something to stop it?

      But what strikes me over the theft and the reports of other similar thefts is that it sounds very much like the thieves are confident that they can overcome Apple's protection because the machine is otherwise fairly worthless. So, the machine is gone: wipe it remotely and remove it from your Apple account.

      This was a professional theft and not a junkie's opportunistic smash and grab: getaway vehicle with fake plates. All done at speed so that even if there is a have-a-go-hero around, they're not likely to react in time and, even if they do, the guy probably has a trained response: if you're risking going down for a felony, you're not that likely to worry about being done for assault as well.

      Oh, and back the shit up, especially if you're out and about a lot. When my MacBook got nicked in 2014 (out of my room while I was asleep) I might have felt like a prize numpty, but was able to do a suprising amount of work on my aged Mac Mini until I got a replacement sorted. Installing to a MacBook from a backup can take a while but is simple and just works™. So, also think about having a backup device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sad

        "This was a professional theft..."

        Absolutely.

        "...the guy probably has a trained response: if you're risking going down for a felony, you're not that likely to worry about being done for assault as well."

        Not likely. His response is almost certainly to drop the laptop and run even faster, or submit if he simply can't escape. The reason for this is how the "justice" system works in most of the US and certainly in California. If they can only charge you with one thing and it's a marginal felony anyway, they will offer you a plea bargain on the misdemeanor version of the charge with no prison time. They want the case off the docket, and prisons are overcrowded, so unless you are a repeat felon you're going to get off with a slap on the wrist, even if you have a lengthy record of petty crime. Things change if you also commit an act of violence in the process; now they've got 2 charges and they can bargain with the assault instead of the grand theft. You plead to the felony and get probation, they drop the assault and you still avoid prison but now you still have a felony on your record and the next time, even if it's a misdemeanor, you will go to prison for the probation violation. If you have a gun in your possession, or try to use any kind of weapon in committing the crime or getting away, now they have at least 3 felonies (grand theft or armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and carrying a concealed weapon, often more), and you're going to do time no matter what. You also risk being killed by an armed bystander (though not in San Francisco) or a cop with an itchy trigger finger.

        The professionals know this. That's why they don't carry weapons and are unlikely to offer violence. As pros, they play the odds and work the system. If this was a teenage gangster, the equation changes considerably. Those guys are dead-enders; they know they'll be dead or in prison soon anyway and they live for the violence. Unless there's a contract on you, you should always hope the criminals you encounter are professionals.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Sad

          You may well be right, though I guess it depends on the expected pay-off. Most likely they just know how to get out with the target with the minimum of disruption. Quite often they'll only need to shove someone aside.

  11. Artifixprime
    WTF?

    Have a heart?

    Maybe just me, but if someone stole my laptop, of any brand and under any circumstances - I'd be rightly f**ked off. Having a go at them for almost inviting this because of the type of machine they have is a bit low.

    Yeah the shiny things will attract the most attention, but the author wasn't exactly leaving it unattended in public.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I doubt it will ever connect again

    By now it is a pile of parts being fitting to other Macs.

    its true value isnt what it is worth as a working machine, but how much you can sell the parts for as new to unsuspecting marks.

    Same reason so few new/newish/rare stolen cars are ever found - they are all around you - a bit here and a bit there.

    Either that, or Apple are extending their no El Reg reporters ban to no El Reg reporters owning their kit.

    1. Christian Harten

      Re: I doubt it will ever connect again

      The labour of extracting the few re-usable parts alone and the difficulty (as stated on iFixit) doesn't make this sound particularly profitable either. Then again Freakonomics made mention of crack dealers making less than minimum wage (tax free though!).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So here's the advantage to soldering down the SSD

        That means it can't be replaced, so it is impossible to sell because no one can login to it, and since everything is soldered down it is impossible to part out (assuming the serial number of the display is tied to it so it can't be disconnected and used to replace a broken one)

        Can it be re-installed from scratch without knowing the password? Maybe you need some sort of BIOS level password to prevent that? Better yet, the installer should check if there's already macOS installed and if so require you provide the root password, or at least the password of one of the accounts on it.

        Obviously it must have some value or people would not steal them, but it seems if Apple is going to solder down the SSD and tie serial numbers of parts together they can't be too far from making stolen laptops useless so they'll quit being stolen.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: So here's the advantage to soldering down the SSD

          Machines can be locked down to that extent, but many noncorporate ones aren't. Thus, the criminals may be surprised to find one with those precautions implemented because their previous ones have not been so encumbered. It doesn't help the victim very much, unless Apple makes that level of security the default. Of course, if they do that, it won't help people who really want to erase a machine they have a right to erase; if a user has forgotten their encryption code, the IT department will much rather have to reimage the machine rather than throw it away.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So here's the advantage to soldering down the SSD

            Well Apple should make that level of security the default is what I'm saying, so long as they can do it without harming the customer. People who don't want it can disable it.

  13. Shadow Systems Silver badge
    Pint

    Have a pint to feel better...

    I'll buy the first few rounds & join you in drunken kareoki to make you feel better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: Have a pint to feel better...

      From the spelling of Karaoke, I am guessing you have a big head start.

  14. SonofRojBlake

    Cowards?

    Sensible, I say. I might, possibly, consider stepping in a perp's way in a coffee shop in, say, Shrewsbury. I'd think twice in London, because there's a non-zero chance the scum in question would stab me.

    In the US, where there's a reasonable chance they're carry an actual *gun*? Fuck that. Fuck that even if the laptop was mine, let alone some randomer. Victim of crime in the US and didn't get shot by the perp?

    1. Consider yourself lucky.

    2. Suck it up and buy some new stuff.

    3. Consider going and living somewhere less horrible.

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Re: Cowards?

      I live in Shrewsbury. I wouldn’t bet so highly on the harmlessness of the local scumbags.

      That said, I’d probably have a go at stopping them (if I’d realised what’s going on in time, which by the sounds of the article I probably wouldn’t).

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cowards?

      "I might, possibly, consider stepping in a perp's way in a coffee shop in, say, Shrewsbury."

      By the time you'd considered it he'd be gone.

    3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Cowards?

      It doesn't take any bravery nor personal risk to pretend to step out of the way of the running bloke, then stick a foot out to trip him on his face.

      You can appollogize profusely as you help pick him up & dust him off, meanwhile his pursuer has caught up & gotten their (probably damaged) property back.

      If he's armed he'll have to had drawn the weapon prior to your having felled him & he tried to beat/stab/shoot you with it on his headlong face first plunge to the pavement, or he'll have to attempt to do so once he's crashed.

      Given Human nature is to extend your hands in front of you to protect yourself from the impact, it's unlikely he would manage to retain his weapon or the stolen property.

      He lands, the weapon/property goes sliding across the floor, & most importantly, he's face down on the floor.

      Unarmed, prone, & discombobulated is not the best position from which to attempt to attack someone, especially not if the person you just robbed is presently stomping on your kidneys, using your ears to smash your skull into the floor, & screaming that you're going to live to regret your actions...

      Don't blame the victim, it makes you appear the arse.

      You don't have to be brave to help foil the robbery, you just have to *do something constructive* to help delay the suspect trying to flee.

      Got a walking cane, bumbershoot, or pole of any kind? Extend it into his legs & send him sailing.

      Got a mug full of hot coffee? Toss it in his face to send him screaming into a wall, table, the floor, etc.

      Got a hand full of loose objects that won't be very condusive to being trod upon? Your keys, some marbles, a banana? Toss them in his path underfoot & watch him take a pratfall.

      You don't have to be brave, but all it takes for Evil to succeed is for Good men to do nothing.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Cowards?

        "You don't have to be brave, but all it takes for Evil to succeed is for Good men to do nothing."

        lol that is so corny. Did you get that quote off a movie poster?

  15. Free treacle

    It was obviously....

    ... a targetted move by a rival tech website trying to snaffle Vulture docs!

    Srsly though, sorry you had to go through this. The mental trauma of being victimised like this is often worse than the loss of material goods.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: It was obviously....

      Or an Apple secrete operation aimed at removing iThings from Vultures? All that effort to steal a single laptop, and not cash?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: It was obviously....

        Just have to raise an eyebrow at your typo and Apple's Secrete Operations department. Has Kieren been slimed?

  16. Snorlax Silver badge
    WTF?

    Cowards?

    "Cowards, I muttered under my breath."

    Stupid comment. Why do you see the other customers as cowards?

    I sure as sh*t wouldn't risk my safety by intervening in the theft of a stranger's laptop.

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Re: Cowards?

      Definition fo coward: “a person who is contemptibly lacking in the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.”

      Your comment seems to put you in the category.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Andre Carneiro

          Re: Cowards?

          Did I strike a nerve there?

          1. Snorlax Silver badge

            Re: Cowards?

            Ha ha. You wish, tough guy

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, cowards!

      All that needed to happen was for one person to stick their foot out to trip him up, and when he goes down hopefully someone else will put a knee HARD into his back and he can be kept immobile until the police show up. No one is asking you to confront a shooter with an AK47!

      I was in Boston about 15 years ago at an outdoor cafe with my girlfriend, in the upper tier with a prime view. We heard someone scream "stop him" and next thing we know a guy in the sidewalk level tier jumped the 3' railing and tackled someone running by. The guy he tackled managed to slip away leaving behind a shoe, because the tackler was more concerned with holding onto the purse which he also left behind. The woman who owned the purse showed up a few seconds later and we all applauded the guy who had stopped him. A few minutes later the police showed up and took the shoe, and no doubt told their fellows to look out for a guy wearing only one shoe lol

      If more people did that, there would be fewer incidents like our Reg writer experienced. People doing these quick grab crimes aren't going to be carrying guns or knives in their hands (or probably at all) which instead contain a laptop or purse, there's no reason to sit still in fear and watch someone else be a victim. Next time it might be you.

      If I'm ever in a situation like that and can help I'm going to be one of the people who helps, not one of the people who cowers under a table like you.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: Yes, cowards!

        "If I'm ever in a situation like that and can help I'm going to be one of the people who helps, not one of the people who cowers under a table like you."

        Wow, the internet tough guys are out in force...

        The reality is you have *zero* clue what can go wrong in a robbery. If you want to assume the risks in order to be a hero and get your photo in the paper, good for you...

        "People doing these quick grab crimes aren't going to be carrying guns or knives in their hands"

        Sorry if I don't take your word - that of a stranger on the internet - that thieves don't carry weapons. What statistics or studies did you base that claim on?

        "If more people did that, there would be fewer incidents like our Reg writer experienced."

        On a more practical level, I don't give a shit what others do. Police are paid to reduce crime, and I'm not. Have a nice day!

        Some light reading:

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/16/have-a-go-hero-arrested-death-suspected-armed-robber-tackled/

        https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9243978/have-a-go-hero-battered-onlookers-999/

        https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/london-crime-builder-stabbed-samurai-16819886

        https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/vigilante-laws-england-justice-definition-meaning/

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Cowards?

      I thought that was pretty clear given the context and the words on the page immediately before the comment.

      No one did anything (save the two guys) and people avoided communicating with me, even avoided eye contact after the event when I was talking to the security guy and the cops on the phone. That's just cowardly behavior and it's disconcerting to feel somehow shunned when you've just been robbed.

      The human response would be to acknowledge someone's distress, rather than actively ignore it.

      Kieren

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: Cowards?

        "No one did anything (save the two guys)..."

        And I ask yet again: why should you expect your fellow customers to intervene? Choosing not to get involved isn't cowardly - that's weighing up the risk/reward situation and saying "fuck that".

        A lot of Walter Mitty commentards on here pretend they would have taken down the thief because they've got such undeniably big balls, but the reality (whether you choose to acknowledge it or not) is that shit happens and things go wrong quickly.

        If the have-a-go hero is shot/stabbed/run over by the thief you've lost nothing except a laptop, but some family may lose a husband/dad/son/etc. Pretty selfish attitude, don't you think?

        "people avoided communicating with me, even avoided eye contact...That's just cowardly behavior and it's disconcerting to feel somehow shunned when you've just been robbed."

        Big city life. Again, not cowardly in the slightest. Maybe lacking in empathy but not cowardly.

        Sorry about your experience and the loss of your laptop, but I think you may be expecting more of your fellow citizens than society demands of them...

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Cowards?

          How about standing forward as witness (in case you saw anything)? It sounds impressive that only one did.

          I doubt I would have had much of an idea of what to do as it happened, but confirming the event? Well of course.

  17. deadlockvictim

    Cowards

    KMcC: In truth, though, the most awful part of the whole experience was how everyone in the coffee shop, save two guys who came and talked to me afterwards, chose to ignore the whole thing and wouldn't even make eye contact afterwards. Cowards, I muttered under my breath.

    First of all, condolences on such a traumatic experience. This sort of thing just adds years to your life. I hope that you are keeping an eye on Craigslist?

    Secondly, have you thought about what you would do if you were working away to a deadline when such an event would happen? Would you leave your expensive laptop alone to chase some bugger and become a part of somebody else's problem? I'd like to say I would but I'm not sure I would though.

    As a final thought, if such risks are more commonplace, I wonder if an old laptop would be a better option. For example, I just bought myself an old 17" PowerBook G4 to play games like Civilization in the train on for the equivalent of $50. Something like this would make a great work laptop for relatively light work like word-processing.

    1. CrysTalK

      Re: Cowards

      KMcC: In truth, though, the most awful part of the whole experience was how everyone in the coffee shop, save two guys who came and talked to me afterwards, chose to ignore the whole thing and wouldn't even make eye contact afterwards. Cowards, I muttered under my breath.

      There are chances that those cowards inside the coffee shops are colleagues of the snatch'n'dash guy. They notified the sprinter that an expensive Mac was spotted inside.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coffee shops?

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't get why a coffee shop should be regarded as a public office-space in the first place (unless it's for the pose value). Work from home, or hot desk, or in the office, and leave your machine there when you go out for a coffee break. Maybe next time, have your coffee where you work, instead of working where you have your coffee?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coffee shops?

      But you can't suggest that - it's victim blaming... /s

      Yeah, "working" from a coffee shop seems to be more about posing than working.

      1. PeterK13

        Re: Coffee shops?

        Working from home doesn't help necessarily - my daughter and son in law had MacBooks lifted from the flat they were staying in a few years ago. The police actually recovered one of them, but the other vanished without trace,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Coffee shops?

          "Working from home doesn't help necessarily - my daughter and son in law had MacBooks lifted from the flat they were staying in"

          I'll argue that you're a hell of a lot more likely to have a laptop stolen from you in a coffee shop than from your home. Depends on the shittiness of the neighborhood you live/work/drink coffee in...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coffee shops?

      What happens when you've had your mug(s) of coffee and need a pee?

      Leave the laptop on the table and depend on the honesty of strangers? Take it to the bathroom with you?

      These are the questions which need to be answered.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "What happens when you've had your mug(s) of coffee and need a pee?"

        Put the laptop in your bag, put your bag on your shoulder, and then go to bathroom?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coffee shops?

      Yes you are old fashioned.

      1. You probably live in a house you bought 100 years ago for the equivalent of an avocado smoothie, and brag about 'how much I have made' on your unearned capital gains, while millennial's are paying 70% of their income to rent a window-less broom cupboard in one of your buy-to-lets while struggling to juggle their less than minimum wage freelance gigs.

      2. A 'hot desk' in San Francisco will set you back between $1000 and $2000 a month. Assuming a 5 day week that's $50 to $100 a day. Coffee averages $3.60 so you could drink at least 13.88 coffees and still be ahead of the game.

      3. Coffee shops want you to come and sit and work, so that a) you buy coffee and b) they look busy so more than one person comes in and buys coffee. If they didn't want that to happen they wouldn't offer free wifi and comfy chairs.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Coffee shops?

        The London Stock Exchange was invented centuries ago by businessmen who habitually used coffee shops as their offices. Rents were so cheap that it was economical to allow a customer a table for a day for only a few cups of coffee. If a coffee shop markets itself to people working with laptops, I see no problem.

        It's when you seen lone person with a laptop at a prime table (as opposed to a back bar table) in a pub that it's annoying.

        1. Christian Harten

          Re: Coffee shops?

          Lloyd's of London started out as Lloyd's Coffee House.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Coffee shops?

            Many self employed people find the the act of leaving their house beneficial to working, even if you're a writer and you're just leaving your house for your shed (see Roald Dahl).

            If they try and sit at the kitchen table to write, they are distracted by the washing up or whatever.

            Anecdotally, people I know who rent a shared office space find the hum of other people working aids their concentration.

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Coffee shops?

            True, but I haven't read anything regarding the origins of Lloyd's suggesting that there were quill-thieves or ledger-lifters operating in such places. It was a different risk profile, so there is no equivalence.

        2. Snorlax Silver badge

          Re: Coffee shops?

          "Rents were so cheap that it was economical to allow a customer a table for a day for only a few cups of coffee."

          So basically the opposite of any big-city coffee shop today, where rents are high and it's not economical to allow someone to hog a table for a day in return for buying a couple of drinks?

          "If a coffee shop markets itself to people working with laptops, I see no problem."

          I've never seen a coffee shop marketing itself as an office. Probably for the reason above - coffee shops need table turnover to stay in business.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coffee shops?

        "1. You probably live in a house you bought 100 years ago for the equivalent of an avocado smoothie, and brag about 'how much I have made' on your unearned capital gains, while millennial's are paying 70% of their income to rent a window-less broom cupboard in one of your buy-to-lets while struggling to juggle their less than minimum wage freelance gigs"

        That's a truly asinine comment.

        You know nothing about me. I rent a one-bed flat, I have no capital gains to brag about, I don't own a buy-to-let and if I did I certainly wouldn't rent it out to some millennial freelance gigger with no job security and an attitude like yours. And I work from home, from which (touch wood) nothing has been stolen (yet).

        And guess what? I'm a freelance writer, and never once have I felt the need to squat in a Starbucks for the free wifi simply to boost their profits and to make them look so 'busy' that other freeloading wifi leeches might come in and 'work' through an occasional Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Coffee shops?

          So I guess you don't freelance on scripts for satirical magazines. I didn't in any way mean it as a personal jibe - but equally I have met a lot of people who can get amazingly out of touch with reality, as in £100k + incomes who think they are 'poor'.

          I am though moderately amazed that you are living in 2019 and unaware of the way parts of the economy work. People using Starbuck's wifi aren't 'freeloading wifi leeches' . They chose to accept the offer Starbucks makes - drink a few coffees and we'll let you sit in the warm and work. If a coffee shop doesn't want to encourage that use, it's easy enough for them to do it.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Coffee shops?

            When the Met Office moved from Reading to Exeter, one family rich on the proceeds of their house sale & relocation package, bought a very expensive house at the very expensive end of Ottery St Mary (West Hill).

            Somehow they managed to get into the local rag about how they were now barely managing on hubbys single salary of 90K (about 6 - 8 times higher than the average wage in that area), complaining about the high cost of living in the country.

            You can imagine the level of sympathy & support they received.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Coffee shops?

      In general I wouldn't make a practice of it, although some people obviously do.

      However there are situations where there's time to do work and neither office nor home are close at hand. In my case it's been occasions when I've taken the grand-kids to their tennis lesson & have to hang about waiting to take them home again. If I have something to write I'll take a laptop and sit the club's coffee bar although it's likely that it will be the little MSI job and not something more substantial. For others it might be waiting for a train, a gap between appointments or lectures etc.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Coffee shops?

        After yesterday afternoon I should have added a few hours hanging about in hospital waiting rooms while SWMBO was at the eye clinic.

    5. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Coffee shops?

      Tbh It doesn't sound like you are all that interested in understanding why people work from coffee shops.

      But it does seem that you are annoyed that you don't understand - as indicated by the negative assumptions you place on it.

      I think you'll be a whole lot happier in general if you learn how to ask people things with an open mind and then later and in private apply their responses to your assumptions.

      All the best

      Kieren

    6. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Coffee shops?

      I have spent many hours working in cafés, shopping centres and similar while the kids were at sports practice.

      For all we know Kieran could have been between meetings and it just appeared to be the most efficient use of time.

      I do most of my work from home which is also our business, but unfortunately I don't have the luxury of only working there.

  19. OGShakes

    happened to my neice

    we were at breakfast in the hotel at disneyland (one of the proper on park ones) and her phone 'disappeared' from her tray while she was putting bacon on her plate. The plate was on the tray, just to let you know how bold the tea leaf was. Disney staff and other guests could not give a sh1t. Thankfully we used find my phone to track it, it was either in the staff locker room or an office where they keep the lost property depending on if we take their word for it or trust our eyes...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That sucks.

    Having just got a Chromebook it would be a shame if that got swiped.

    Makes note to enable 2FA, may as well make the thieves lives difficult.

    Note: SD cards are a problem. I can't just keep unplugging it as the contact life is limited.

    If memory serves most Android devices have "Encrypt external storage" but the problem

    is the overhead can be considerable and does not guard against specific attacks like

    MITM where the encrypted data is logged but not decoded at the time.

    Remedy: if you are going to work on super secret squirrel (tm) research, use the oldest reliable

    laptop that works and set full device encryption and WPA 3.1 enabled by default.

    WPA2 = No Connect. Inconvenient but the lesser of two evils.

    Also possible: take the performance hit and use two independent storage chips in stripe mode

    but take one with you at all times on a quick release custom magnetic connector. Laptop gets stolen

    it can be regenerated from offsite backup and the one remaining chip but to a thief its worthless.

    Incidentally the SD connector in most cheap laptops can be modified into a quick release, set up

    to give you a few seconds to replug if it gets disconnected by accident using a large memory

    buffer running in volatile storage independent of the main system memory.

    Using GPU buffer is acceptable provided it is onboard and fully encrypted.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: That sucks.

      Let el Reg do the line breaks. Returns are for paragraph breaks.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "SD cards are a problem. I can't just keep unplugging it as the contact life is limited."

      SD specs require at least a 10.000 plug/unplug cycles - you can do the math... The flash memory will fail earlier.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "SD cards are a problem. I can't just keep unplugging it as the contact life is limited."

        Is the idea that your essential data is on the encrypted SD card (that you have tied to your wrist) and not the nickable laptop?

        Do you need SD? The most common use-case is for transferring photos, and most cameras (any?) don't encrypt the SD card.

        They are also a buffer for getting lost.

  21. Mage Silver badge

    Guest Account?

    Why would that be enabled?

    Though my Mac knowledge is sparse.

    1. Snorlax Silver badge

      Re: Guest Account?

      The guest account is usually enabled.

      The reason, I believe, is that the thief will use the guest account to connect to the internet and reveal the location to the owner.

  22. steviebuk Silver badge

    Not nice

    That crappy feeling you get when you realise your "thing" has gone. Like when I came out of work and found some arse had come round the back of our building and stolen my bike, many years ago. The CCTV turned out to be shit and our building manager gave no shits to the fact the CCTV was shit. Nothing was ever done about it. They caught a local thief later I believe who'd been stealing loads, not sure if related to my bike but never got any compensation for it.

    Despite I hate Apple, you shouldn't have to NOT sit in a cafe just because of fear of having your stuff stolen.

    If you get it back, and I very much doubt you will as has been mentioned, as they know all the locks Apple have, it most likely will be stripped and sold/given to the local bent 3rd party repair store. Which is annoying itself as it gives them a bad name as well. Louise Rossmann reported a Mac that was bought into his store a few years ago that was stolen, he put a video up of it on his channel.

    Anyway. When you're back up and running it will give you some good articles to write on securing your laptop. Your loss however, does remind me of this video

    DEF CON 18 - Zoz - Pwned By The Owner: What Happens When You Steal A Hacker's Computer

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwpg-AwJ0Jc

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Not nice

      > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwpg-AwJ0Jc

      Nice one, worth every minute!

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'm not sure a device fitting into the USB would be a good substitute for a Kensington lock. However, combine this with one of Kieren's other actions...

    A similar but active device that fits the USB socket and S/W that monitors its presence. The instant the device is jerked out the laptop starts a continuous alarm sound. The likelihood is, of course, that the thief would then drop the machine on the floor which would be just about as bad. But make the device conspicuous so once the device's existence is well known it becomes a deterrent.

    Anyone want to manufacture one? Extra points if it's also a storage device with auto-save pointed at it.

    1. Bill Gray

      An interesting thought. Seems to me no special device is needed; simply plug in any bog-standard USB device (camera, mouse, storage, etc., ideally on a cable) and have something set up to complain loudly if that device is removed. The laptop should show a dialog : "Enter 'safe' code or reattach device to turn off siren".

      Some flexibility should be allowed in what happens if the code isn't entered/device isn't reattached in X seconds, but wiping/encrypting files might be a good option. Perhaps taking a few images with the Webcam and e-mailing them to a predefined address.

      The "siren" should also be customizable. I might have mine shriek, "I'm a stolen laptop! Put me down gently and walk away, or I'll explode!"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I thought of that one. In fact a lot of USB keys have some sort of loop which would allow them to be attached to a cord. But the likelihood is that the thief wouldn't have heard of such an idea, wouldn't have encountered such a set-up before and never would encounter one again so the only difference in outcome would be a dropped and smashed laptop vs a stolen one. That's where the second part comes in. It needs to be a very visible and different-looking device whose vendor has gone to some trouble to publicise as an alarm so the value is in deterrence before the event rather than not much protection after.

        There are a couple of additional twists. You need to think about how it's attached to the table or the owner. If it's a simple clip the thief might take the extra second to unclip it. So it needs to be made physically tricky to unclip (as someone else suggested in relation to a locking device) or the gadget needs to be able to make the laptop aware that it's been unclipped so that unclipping requires telling the S/W first. It needs a similar defence against the cable being cut.

        1. Bill Gray

          Um. Unfortunately, good points; in fact, I wonder if a thief's instinctive response to the siren would be to not simply drop the laptop, but to fling it away as hard as possible.

          But the general idea of treatting a (specific) disconnected USB device as an indicator of theft still appeals to me. Question is, what should the laptop do in such a case?

          Perhaps, instead of using a siren, the computer just encrypts files and turns on webcam and microphone. (And otherwise behaves, as much as possible, "normally" so that it can do as much encryption and spying on the thief as possible.)

          Logging the SSIDs of passing WiFi sites might also help. I suspect that in a city such as San Francisco, if you know what routers you've passed, you know where you are.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            " in fact, I wonder if a thief's instinctive response to the siren would be to not simply drop the laptop, but to fling it away as hard as possible."

            That's the point of making it conspicuous and publicising what it is. The object is deterrence.

    2. M.V. Lipvig

      Excellent idea. Personally, if I have a laptop with high-value personal data on it, I'd much rather have to deal with the remains of my broken laptop that the thief dropped mid-heart attack because the 130dB alarm blew out his eardrum than see the data disappear in a car, never knowing if anyone was able to access it or not.

  24. Dz

    San Francisco

    The biggest shithole on the planet. Move now!

    https://www.reddit.com/r/unpopularopinion/comments/b3v6xb/san_francisco_has_become_an_absolutely_filthy/

  25. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Sad about the Theft

    but Kudos for admitting to this den of Apple naysayers that you use a MacBook.

    I hope you had a recent Time Machine or other backup of the thing.

    {this is being typed on a 2015 MBP}

    As for the M*ker who stole yours, I hope that they get to [see icon]

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Sad about the Theft

      There are all sorts of reasons why I use an Apple computer. As it happens in this case I wrote a whole article about it: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/18/why_i_bought_macbook_air_instead_of_new_pro/

      Since I'm a tech journalist I have a pretty good understanding of pretty much everything on the market. I think my favorite ever computer was still my (now very old) ThinkPad.

      Kieren

  26. mdubash

    Sorry to hear

    Horrible experience, Kieran - I hope you get it back soon - and more importantly, get over the distress.

  27. el kabong

    It's just a laptop!

    Things happen to laptops it is unavoidable.

    Don't make such a fuss of it, there is no need for that.

  28. Mystic Megabyte
    Linux

    There will always be thieves :(

    In London I have a bicycle that is worth about £10. I lock it with a padlock that's worth about £3 and probably could be opened with a nail file. No-one has ever tried to steal it. I also don't wear rings or jewellery and my phone cost £99. If I were to be mugged I'd give them the phone. The money I save by not insuring it will pay for a new phone.

    My motorbike was so beat-up it looked like it would not start. I only padlocked it because I lived on top of a hill and did not want some teenager going for a free wheel to the bottom. (My car was also beat-up and *big*, even the black cabs did not mess with me!)

    Growing up in a big city, if you're smart, you learn to not flaunt your money.

    I have little sympathy towards people getting mugged for their £25000 Rolex watch. How stupid would it be to get killed for a piece of gaudy bling.

    I'm typing on a Lenovo B590 that cost £140 and is in mint condition. It runs Ubuntu 16.04 and everything works, it got security updates yesterday. If I'm desperate I can boot it into Windows 8.1

    I must admit to feeling sorry for the people in coffee shops behind their illuminated Apple logos. It's like advertising the fact that you don't know how to operate a computer. OK this is a generalisation but I'm sure that it applies to the majority of them.

    ↓↓↓↓ Please form an orderly queue for the downvote button :)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      So people must have their lives dictated by criminals?

      That's exactly what "losing control" means - and its a flag of a crippled society.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There will always be thieves :(

      "My car was also beat-up and *big*, even the black cabs did not mess with me!"

      When driving in London (now a long time ago) I always wished I was in an old Landrover that had spent the last 40 years on a farm and showed it.

      Nearly downvoted you for using an OS that's been pottered about with. https://github.com/Xylemon/xlennart

      1. MrBanana

        Re: There will always be thieves :(

        When driving in London my dad would take the old Mk I Cortina estate instead of the Jaguar, to save it getting damaged by bad drivers, or vandals when parked. Of course the XJ6 was a product of British Leyland, and fell apart all by itself, long before the Ford perished.

      2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: There will always be thieves :(

        My favourite would be the ancient half ton pickup I had in North America, dented, rusted, scored, scraped and big...people tended to avoid getting too close...realising their vehicle probably cost about 30 or 40 times what the truck was worth and the truck would likely shrug off a traffic shunt....

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: There will always be thieves :(

      "I have a bicycle that is worth about £10"

      I had a neighbour (when I was a teenager) that had a bike that was always looking like it had seen the worst side of a BMX Park (so now you know how long ago that was!) during a downpour. So I offered to hose his bike down when I did mine.

      He told me the bike was perfectly clean, he'd taken two weeks to apply a "looks like shit" paint job to a rather expensive bike. And for his efforts, his cycling buddies with their flash bikes would get stuff nicked (once, somebody swiped the brake blocks - huh!?) while his looked like such a pile of garbage it was left in peace.

      [my bike at the time was a pile of garbage - literally - I rescued bits from landfill and built it myself, total outlay was two inner tubes, a can of WD40, and one of those multi-size socket gizmos]

    4. Bill Gray

      Re: There will always be thieves :(

      "I have a bicycle that is worth about £10."

      I read about somebody who wanted to get rid of an old refrigerator and put it on the lawn with a "Free" sign. It sat there for a week.

      So she changed the sign to read "Fridge, $50, inquire within." It was gone the next day.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There will always be thieves :(

      I must admit to feeling sorry for the people in coffee shops behind their illuminated Apple logos. It's like advertising the fact that you don't know how to operate a computer.

      Common decency prevents me stating exactly what I think of that comment.

  29. Smylers

    Maths Abilities?

    Hi, Kieren. Sorry you've had this inflicted on you.

    About $150 being very little pay-off for the risk, the other possibility could just be the thieves are bad at maths? A $1500 laptop sounds like it <em>should</em> be worth stealing, so maybe they just haven't thought through how much they're actually making with this. There's no reason for criminals like these to be proficient in maths or economics. And it's still one of the most high-value items that people have out in public.

    Anyway, I hope it gets connected to the internet soon.

    1. kitekrazy

      Re: Maths Abilities?

      That's $150 they didn't have to work very hard. That's at least 2 days pay for a part timer bagging groceries.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do the latest Macbooks have a cable lock hole or is that another adapter you have to buy?

  31. Uplink

    Kensington lock steel cables to be provided in coffee shops

    It looks like coffee shops should start providing ready-to-use Kensington lock steel cables.

    It should be already built into the table so you can just lock your computer when you sit down, without fondling with your own. These shouldn't necessarily need a key, as they're not supposed to be used to leave your laptop unattended, but to slow down any theft attempt enough to headbutt the douche.

    A knob that can be pushed once to lock but needs to be twisted three times to unlock could do the trick.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Kensington lock steel cables to be provided in coffee shops

      Would any coffee shop want to advertise that there's a chance their customers could lose their laptops (even if there probably is)?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Or

      An anti-theft bar that bolts into the table and holds the laptop along the hinge. Rollercoaster safety bar style. Or, a very powerful magnet underneath the table surface... hmm... maybe not that one.

      Floor tiles that aren't glued down, so that if anyone runs then their feet slip and they don't actually move.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Or

        "Floor tiles that aren't glued down, so that if anyone runs then their feet slip and they don't actually move."

        Good suggestions except for that one. I don't think health and safety legislation will like that one, and I wouldn't either when an emergency happened.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    backups

    "But the worst part is the stuff that I have now lost. Three years' worth of work, pictures, videos, ideas, cuttings. Yes, some of it was backed up. But I haven't been religious about it."

    Given you're using your Mac for work, you really should have. Particularly, MacOS has a very good backup tool, Time Machine.

    Next time, buy a small Synology NAS, they have Time machine on it. Saved my Macs multiple times and it is really easy to use even in case of complete OS corruption.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: backups

      > Given you're using your Mac for work, you really should have. Particularly, MacOS has a very good backup tool, Time Machine.

      This in spades. It's the ease and simplicity of Time Machine that keeps me with the Mac and stops me from switching to Linux/BSD.

      1. MrBanana

        Re: backups

        TimeMachine on my MacBook is fragile. About 1 in 3 times that I plug the drive in to make a backup it seems to have forgotten that it was ever a backup disk, and has to be reconfigured. I use rsync to a NAS device to maintain peace of mind. Dirvish on Linux has been flawless.

        Oh, and if you're using a Mac, then sorry to disappoint you, but you're already using BSD.

  33. Christian Harten

    I'm thinking of getting an internal 4G modem, that also has the benefit that it would be possible to track the device after some fashion for as long as it's turned on. Somewhat counter-intuitively I remove the PIN from the SIM cards I use in a phone so I can track them if stolen or lost. I wonder though if this requires to establish a connection for the card to be traceable.

  34. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    A friend of mine had his Microsoft Surface thing stolen from one of his clients' offices. He was glad, because it was an unreliable POS and he replaced it with a Lenovo.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      My future son-in-law had his car nicked in Manchester. When it was recovered he spent a few days hoping to hear the insurance would write it off - which they did - as he wanted to buy and MGB. As he said, most girls' fathers wouldn't take kindly to boy-friends with MGs but he knew I'd had one myself.

  35. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I lost my phone

    I think I just left my cellphone somewhere while shopping. It seemed to ring on the network until its battery died some days later, but no one answered when I called it. Shops and police lost property services didn't get it back for me. It was an old weird basically unsellable model (but interesting 7 inch tablet size), and I wish I'd texted a ransom reward offer to it: I think that would have been the best deal for anyone holding it. Doing it safely would be tricky, though. Is there a how-to?

  36. Sebastian Brosig
    Black Helicopters

    Apple

    Apples legal team now sub-contracts SF lowlifes to take their kit out of known associates of TheRegister. Stepping it up from un-inviting you from all press events and not sending review devices!

  37. Gil Grissum

    Hmmmmm...

    I've honestly never understood the "Coffee Shop" thing, that people do, for this particular reason. I can safely and comfortably use my laptop or desktop at home in safety, with security that no one is going to run up and grab my laptop. In a Coffee Shop, this sort of thing is always possible. And of course, no one tried to stop the guy. What would make anyone think that they would? No one cares (accept the two who walked up, after). I have no need for use of a Coffee Shop or Internet Cafe. When out and about, I use my phone. Heaven help the guy who tries to run up and grab my phone out of my hand. I will still have my phone, and they will have nightmares, for life... >:-)

  38. Reginald Onway

    Surprise! Surprise!

    Very difficult to prevent or defend a carefully planned, organized and executed surprise attack like that.

    Apprehension seems quite unlikely.

    Are you sure you weren't targeted? Do you go there often?

    1. sbt Silver badge

      Re: Surprise! Surprise!

      Yes, it seems like ICANN have finally had enough of this pesky kid.

    2. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Surprise! Surprise!

      Hadn't been there for a few weeks.

      I would like to see the security footage to figure out how long the guy spent in the coffee shop and whether he focused on me or just made a snap decision. I'm willing to bet he has done this a few times before - it was decisive.

  39. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Police response

    In the UK I called the local non-emergency number after my bike got nicked and basically got told off.

    "Just go onto the website and get a crime number for the insurance" before they hung up

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Helpful strangers

    > a man came up to me and told me he hadn't seen the robbery – but had seen the guy who did it, and reckoned he would be able to recognize him (I had only seen the back of him). [...]He gave me his driving license, I took a pic,

    That wasn't a great idea: you took a pic that sync'd with your iCloud account which the perp could then see in Photos on the Mac? Better hope your screen lock kicked in quickly.

    1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Helpful strangers

      "which the perp could then see in Photos on the Mac"

      At least he'd have to connect it to the Internet and trigger the Find My Mac stuff. And it wasn't Kieren's 'bad idea'. It was the guy offering up his ID for a photo. He should have said, "Call a cop and I'll present my identification to him."

  41. Frank Bitterlich

    On a side note...

    You mentioned that you're using 1Password for your passwords. Honest question, what is your motivation for using this vs. the built-in Keychain Access app? I've seen a few people using 1Password so far, but none of them could explain to me why they chose it over the built-in solution.

    In any case, I would keep the laptop associated with your Apple ID. If you remove it, you lose the chance of finding it through Find my Mac should it ever connect to the net before it is being wiped.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: On a side note...

      I use Dashlane as well as Apple Keychain, because I don't only use Apple computers, and I like to have my saved passwords work across platforms and across browsers.

    2. Huw D

      Re: On a side note...

      Mrs D uses 1Password, purely because it appears to work better on iThings than LastPass/KeePass/Dashlane and she has more iThings than non-iThings so she gets a more consistent experience across the device fleet.

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: On a side note...

      Several reasons:

      * 1Password can be used across multiple platforms and devices

      * It works really well and I'm used to it

      * I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket

      Kieren

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has been happening all over the Bay Area for years

    Same thing happened to me in the East Bay in 2013. Three little teenage scumbags grabbed mine and two other Macbooks simultaneously and made off in a car. What scared the hell out of me was that the thief kept my machine open as he got away, presumably so that the machine's contents (a 17" MBP) could be ransacked. A lady chased them in her truck for four blocks, called the cops and gave them the license number and a live account of where she was - she even took pics - but they didn't care. The sheriff came, took our details, left and that was that. Luckily none of my info appears to have been used criminally at least.

    In the Bay Area, and probably in most of the rest of the US and UK (I live in London now) this is not a high risk crime for the perp, it's now in the increasingly broad category of zero or near zero-risk crime. Unless you literally caught red-handed by running into a cop, you're home free. Law enforcement no longer serves as a deterrent against crime, it is only the basic honesty and decency of the majority that prevents us from spiralling into mayhem. And who knows how long that will last.

    Anyway, I bought a massive Alienware 18 to replace the Macbook, try running as fast with that, f**ko.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Alienware 18

      Should have bought an iMac instead. One of the old school ones from the late 90s with the CRT screen. Bet no one tries to steal that in a cafe!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My street robbery story

    I had someone put their hand in my laptop bag and stuck their finger right into one of my diabetic needles. (Looks a bit like a cross between a syringe and one of those George Clooney coffee pots)

    I will admit as he withdrew his finger with said needle on it, I did shout something rather unpleasant like “hahaha now you’ve got AIDS, you c**t” which was completely out of character for me and very politically incorrect - but it was spur of the moment and I was very angry.

    He left the scene at a moderate speed. I am

    Not sure whether with or sans needle.

  44. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

    Things need to get better

    I share your pain. I fell foul to a bag thief several years ago (prior to Apple's find your... service) after just a few seconds of inattention in a bar - a classic distraction theft. Apple still occasionally send me emails thanking me for bringing the machine in for a service or repair, but even on the first occasion just three months after the theft refused to hand any information to the police. It's a difficult position for them - who's to say you didn't sell it on before claiming it was stolen?

    The best outcome in the long term is a combination of Apple's new bluetooth based location tech that would allow a device to be located without the need for an internet connection - and (hopefully) the option to completely disable a device this way, making it completely unusable to anyone but the owner. Add in a "transfer of ownership" process at Apple and this could be made pretty watertight.

    At least at that point somebody might just bother to turn the device in as a "I found it dumped can I have my £50 reward please". It's ironic that this is all the more likely now that Apple hardware is unrepairable and nigh on impossible to recycle as spares...

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lied to!

    I feel like I've been lied to.

    I though that either:

    Once the vic had shouted "... mutherhubard!" the perp would stop, turn around slowly, then some Ennio Morricone tune spins up on the iJukebox and a dual takes place.

    OR.

    The perp is eviscerated when all the gun totin' loonies whip out their Magum bazooker guns (that they ALL carry) and open up on his sorry ass.

    I've been lied to.

    Lies! All lies, I tell yee.

  46. ThatOne Silver badge
    Boffin

    Distance trigger

    What we need is a system which connects the laptop and a small gadget in your pocket (using Bluetooth?). If the laptop loses contact to the anchor device in your pocket, it assumes it has been stolen/lost and goes into self-protection mode (wipe, lock, shorting its Li-Ion batteries, whatever).

    No Internet connection required and no way to prevent lock-down, except of course extorting the anchor device from the owner at gun point. But then again there is hardly anything you can do in that case (except staying at home or moving into an area/country with lower crime rates).

    1. Huw D

      Re: Distance trigger

      So something a bit like the collars in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedlock_(film) ?

      Expect it's only the laptop (and criminal) that gets blown up.

      1. Charlie van Becelaere
        Mushroom

        Re: Distance trigger

        I didn't know anyone else had seen that film.

        1. Huw D

          Re: Distance trigger

          Yeah, I've sufferedwatched it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You don't need that

      All you need is a laptop that:

      1) can't be parted out (which is perhaps the only upside from the consumer standpoint of soldering in the RAM, SSD, etc. and locking display serial number to the unit, etc.)

      2) can't be wiped/reinstalled without the password to the current install

      What would be the point of stealing such a laptop, which can't be resold and can't be parted out? Make something valueless to thieves and they will stop trying to steal it.

  47. Sil

    How in the world do you not sync your notebook files with OneDrive, iCloud, GoogleDrive or one of the many automatic cloud file storage services available for next to nothing?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the REAL crime here is...

    that your insurance has a $2000.00 deductible.

    Bastards, the lot of 'em

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think the REAL crime here is...

      Probably covered under his homeowner's or renter's insurance, which typically has a fairly high deductible for theft especially if you want to keep your premiums low. If you have a policy specific to laptops you would have a much lower deductible, but it costs more since it is a separate policy.

      1. kierenmccarthy

        Re: I think the REAL crime here is...

        Entirely correct

        Kieren

  49. Old Used Programmer

    A note of CA license plates...

    Given the license "plate" number and what it looked like... Recently, California started requiring dealers to put paper plates on all cars sold, rather that advertising for the dealership, to be replaced by the buyer when they get the real plates. The number given is typical of those temporary plates. The state should have a record of which car it goes with. In theory, the owner of the correct car should have reported the plate being stolen. If he didn't, there should be a presumption that it's his car that was used. If the theives were dumb enough to use the car that plate goes with (perhaps they stole the car), the chance of finding them probably goes up a bit.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: A note of CA license plates...

      Maybe, but with that description of how the plates work, it doesn't sound all that hard to fake. It wouldn't stop someone who was looking at the stolen car, but works just fine when you're worried about someone taking down the number while the car is in motion, which is exactly the situation in this case.

    2. M.V. Lipvig

      Re: A note of CA license plates...

      Paper tag? Photocopier and 5 minutes. The owner of the tag doesn't even have to know. Although, a check on the neighbors for known thieves might be fruitful.

  50. CountCadaver Bronze badge

    Kensington Locks

    Have Apple stopped fitting Kensington locking ports to their Macbooks? (where the cable actually connects to the chassis of the laptop rather than a flimsy USB port - I just hope the author is misinterpreting where the cable goes as if it connects to the USB its not going to do much)

    I suppose the thief is lucky you weren't in one of the more pro 2nd amendment states with stand your ground laws, else he might have ended up with lead in him....

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be perfectly blunt...Tough S***

    Those of us old enough to remember old SF, before all the street crims were locked up by Three Strikes in the mid 90's, who were all released a few years ago by Prop 47/ 57, have zero sympathy for all those tech bros who walk around the City with very expensive equipment utterly oblivious to just how many criminal scumbags are back on the streets. Laptops in hand, headphones on, cell phones out.Complete idiots just asking to be mugged. Which they are on a regular basis. And if you try to tell them to be careful they just give you a nasty rude brush off. So f*** the lot of them. Crime statistics fodder. The locals know from bitter experience how to look after themselves.

    When in cafes I have always had a beat up "cafe laptop". Utterly disposable. And worthless to fence. I only sit inside where I have a full view of what is going on. I only carry an old beat up cell phone for the same reason. And never use it without being completely aware of who is around. I have never ever worn any kind of earphones or headphones while out in public. I have know too many people who were mugged because they were not paying attention.

    I once had a laptop stolen while staying in a friends place on Potrero Hill. This was before Prop 57. They caught the guy. The SFPD are great when allowed to do their job.. The guy had prior, lots of its, and I made damn sure that scumbag went to jail. His lawyer dragged it out for over a year. But he went to jail. Which at least kept him out of circulation for a while.

    Now the people I have real sympathy for are the poor sods who run shops in the City who since Prop 57 have to deal with utterly flagrant shop lifting by street scum. Under $1000 stolen and because of Prop 57 the PD can do absolutely nothing. Although if the City Prosecutors Office was not utterly incompetent they would find a way to put the worst offenders back behind bars. With Juvenile Hall closed this means that any street thug under 18 can rob and steal with impunity and the City will do absolutely nothing to stop them.

    So sorry Kieren, but it was all your virtue signalling friends and acquaintance who voted for policies like Prop 47 and Prop 57 and for moronic "Progressive" Supes obsessed with worthless trivia like bike lanes and recycling that are responsible for your laptop being stolen. Because Real Life's a Bitch.

    Stay safe. Which in this City means racial profiling will save you a lot of real grief. Unfortunate, but true.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: To be perfectly blunt...Tough S***

      <MODE = "clouseau">

      So what you are saying is ... recycling bike lanes cause these computer thefts? The case is solvéd!

      </MODE>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To be perfectly blunt...Tough S***

        No. I'm saying that the Ten Year Tourists, the tech bros,the hipsters, who vote for idiot "progressive" politicians (pretty much the whole Board of Supe's at the monument) and who clutter up public sessions at City Hall with their stupid virtue signalling politics are the reason why the streets of the City are currently full of street crims. We cannot wait for all these people to f*** off back to the affluent well to do suburbs the vast majority of these people grew up in. Which they invariably do.

        Talked to any local shop keepers recently? Or how about local SFPD beat officers? I have. And those of us about who have been living here for decades know exactly what the causes of the current upsurge of street crime are. And how to stop it. Set aside Prop 47 and 57 for starters. Then enforce the law.

        Anyway, what the locals talk about among themselves nowadays is - Roll on the next earthquake. That will clear out all the people who make the City so unpleasant at the moment. The City was actually quite nice for a few years after Loma Prieta. Until the first dot com bubble.

    2. kierenmccarthy

      Re: To be perfectly blunt...Tough S***

      Dick

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To be perfectly blunt...Tough S***

        > Dick

        Which proves my point perfectly.

        Just suppose one of us old timers warned you about the risks of using expensive electronics in public in neighborhoods which have a long history of street crims? Would you have accepted the warning graciously? And acted up on. My guess based on many years experience is you would have brushed the warning off in a fairly unpleasant manner and not changed your behavior one bit. And become yet another crime statistic.

        Traveling around the City yesterday I noticed the same pattern of the last decade or so. Tech bros and dot commers openly carrying / using expensive laptops / mobiles in marginal areas of SoMa, Mid Market and Inner Mission. Very little blatant usage in marginal areas elsewhere in the City. If I see someone in a dodgy area with a laptop or phone that makes them a very obvious mark I always give them a polite warning about the area. If they are obviously visitors, students or ordinary types. The response has always been positive. If the person is a hipster, dot commer or a Marina Person then I say nothing. Because long experience has taught me its a waste of time. The response will be boorish if not straight rude.

        Locals will go a long way to look out for those who are new to the City and help them avoid a nasty surprise. It is still a very hospitable and friendly city. Which is a tradition I do my best to uphold. But when a certain type of person ends up as a crime stat through their own negligence, no matter how inadvertent, then I am afraid its a matter of Tough S***, Dude, You should have been paying more attention. For a start, do you keep up with the local crime stories? In the Chron and Examiner. The locals most certainly do.

        If you live here another decade or two you will probably learn this. A real pity it had to be the hard way.

  52. heyrick Silver badge

    Cowards, I muttered under my breath.

    It's natural to think that, unfortunately we're talking about country where criminals (and any accomplices they may have) could all too easily end one's heroic ambitions with a bullet.

    Or, to flip it around, before you had your computer stolen, would you have been the one bloke to stand up and attempt to stop a robbery of someone else's {$whatever} ?

  53. This post has been deleted by its author

  54. Blackjack Silver badge

    That is why...

    I only use my laptop inside buildings with locked doors and said doors being locked with real keys.

    Nowadays you can do almost anything with a Smartphone. Even write articles.

    Notebook for Android from the Soho corporation is good enough to write an article you can later export somewhere else.

    There are other options but Notebook has the best "copy and paste" option of all the ones I have tried.

    Heck my travel phone is over five years old for a reason, that reason being that I don't mind if it gets stolen.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: That is why...

      "Notebook for Android from the Soho corporation is good enough to write an article you can later export somewhere else."

      At a fraction f the speed/accuracy of typing on a real keyboard. And then there's being able to consult all the reference material you might need. Yes, you can do that on the phone as well but again it's going to be a lot slower than having a document open beside the one you're typing into. It's horses for courses.

      OTOH I used to have one of those Nokia Communicator bricks. Absolutely ideal for dialling into modems to do remote support of clients' Unix boxes. That also was the appropriate tool for the job.

  55. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Well, thank heavens for all that work SJ had everyone do to make the Macbook light and easy to carry. I counter thieves by only using an old digital anvil.

    As for "Cowards", well, first of all, why should people get involved to save your electrobling, and second, if it was "on" as fast as reported, chances are hardly anyone else was aware what was going on or who were the baddies on account of them having their own heads inside their electrobling a nanosecond before you started shouting and racing around.

    Commiseration on the loss, though. Time for some sort of appliqué screamer with the activation pin attached to a cable to your belt. Thief grabs your kit and runs, pin yanks out, all hell lets loose. Won't stop the theft but the intention would be to damage eardrums inside close confines of a getaway vehicle alert police to the location of your stolen goods.

  56. noisy_typist

    It's more than just stuff

    Sorry to hear what happened to you. When something like this happens it's not just the financial hit and frustration at lost data, but it can be quite unsettling for a long time that someone could physically rob you like that in what should feel like a safe place. I hope you are able to put it behind you quickly.

    To the people saying "work in an office", I worked in an office in a serviced office building once, locked my laptop with a kensington lock to my desk, locked my office door, and it still got stolen. The serviced office company didn't trust the cleaners, so only gave them one set of keys; the cleaning company's solution - use the keys to open every door in the building (including the back door so their staff could go out and smoke), then lock them all again at the end. Unibody laptops may be better, but I came in to find the side panel of my PowerBook (this was a while ago) still attached to the lock and the rest gone. Apparently none of the security cameras were working. My insurance wouldn't pay because there was no forced entry, and the office denied all responsiblity (I fixed that by running up arrears to the tune of 1 laptop, then moving elsewhere with a letter explaining why).

    I don't have stats, but I woud think daylight robbery like this is far less common than thefts from offices.

  57. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Sound alternative...

    remote controlled solenoid driving a nail into the lithium battery

  58. Enigman

    I take my personal laptop with me to coffee shops but because it's a 17" beast they'd have a slower time running off with it especially as I always use my kensington lock with it. I don't patronise a shop unless it has something I can wrap the cable around to deter snatch and grabbers. I'm careful about where I sit in shops and maintain situational awareness no matter how much I'd like to concentrate on what I am doing.

    The snatch and grab thief relies on surprise, it's the same as purse snatchers - they know it will take a second or two for the the fact that the theft has occurred which gives them enough lead to get away before anyone can stop them. They also know that two people shouting in a coffee shop is a common enough occurrence that some people won't even look up from their devices. By the time others had looked up from their devices and put two and two together the crook might have already fled, others quicker on the uptake would probably have not wanted to 'get involved'.

  59. The Rope

    Kensington lock would be better than a USB lock thing. Pain in the neck to have to chain your laptop to a table but better than losing it, I guess.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Find my Mac

    Hi,

    I see you are not sure about Find My Mac, now how useful it will be depends on which model you do have.

    If you have one of the later models with the T-chips AFAIK you should be able to render it useless by putting it into Lost Mode, also DO NOT remove it from your account, by doing that you simplify the thief's job, he just needs to erase it.

    If you have an older model you are out of luck as once erased it would be usable.

    Another tip, and that's how I found mine after it was stolen ... Check the pawn stores, that's where they often get dumped.

    Good luck,

    Cheers

    P.S.: Call Apple Support I am no expert.

  61. kitekrazy

    No fear

    There is no fear among thieves. My bizarre justice would have been served if the thief got hit by a car and life ended. People steal just to steal because they don't get prosecuted. I doubt that person would have serious jail time.

  62. Jove Bronze badge

    No good whinging ...

    ... you should have used your light sabre - failing that, your 9mm automatic would have saved the day.

  63. Bob.

    Kieran! You are a Moron! Or are you? And actually, ain't we all?

    You have actually gained an el Reg story and an interesting/entertaining thread. Add it to your portfolio.

    The story may even be saleable to the MSM Features market. What's the going rate for 500 or a 1000 words these days?

    Otherwise, just dine out on it.

    Being streetwise, or making "risk-assessments", is very necessary in the modern world. Play what-ifs all the time.

    What if I am a victim of fire, flood, theft?

    Backup, backup, backup. Plan, Plan, Plan.

    Do I really want to be out with expensive kit? What if my house is struck my lightning?

    What if I get home to find my partner has changed the locks and all my clothes are on the front-step.

    Life? It's all good fun.

  64. dave 93

    I am shocked!

    An El Reg hack uses an Apple MacBook.

    Whatever next?

  65. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    The most shocking thing is that anyone at Reg actually is allowed to use an Apple...

    Perhaps Reg Central did the hit?

  66. Richard 15

    On being a "Coward"

    There are many, many good reasons for someone else NOT to intervene to protect your property.

    First off, there is chance of getting injured. It's one thing to intervene to protect someone from being assaulted,

    that's reasonable risk/reward thing, but to save property ... not so much.

    I noticed you did not mention his race. I'm a white guy, "assaulting" a person of color exposes me to being labeled

    a racist. If hurt them I can be charged with assault and sued, doxed, and have my life made miserable. Pass.

    Similar problem if they are white and "Trans".

    Worse, I could get injured, stabbed, or possibly shot and for what? To protect something that I have no stake in?

    Your property means nothing in comparison to either of these scenarios.

    Lets pretend someone intervenes and manages to hold onto them long enough for the police to arrive.

    You're in SF. Chances are they won't even charge him. If his lawyer convinces the DA the current value

    is under $1000 they absolutely will not do so. Meanwhile that someone needs to fill in a bunch of paperwork, etc.

    Recently a woman in SF was violently assaulted and the judge initially just let the guy go on a promise to

    show up. After a huge uproar they added an ankle tracker requirement.

    Sorry, but you live in a place with far too many reasons to NOT act.

    SF is a place where there is broken glass on the streets everywhere from the cars windows smashed along

    with human waste and drug needles. They don't want to jail anyone because that costs money that could go

    to paying government employees. I have no idea why anyone would want to live there now.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: On being a "Coward"

      See earlier comment about what it means toive in a civilisation. If you won't stand up for it, you don't deserve it.

  67. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Replacement

    Hi Kieren,

    Just heard about your MacBook being snatched from your hands. Nasty business that. Anyway, nice to see that despite the differences we may have, you put trust and faith in the product for your livelihood. In recognition of that, please pop in to a branch of one of our Stores in your neighbourhood and collect any MacBook of your choice. Next time you are in the area, call into the office - we'll do lunch.

    See you soon

    TC

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Replacement

      Hey TC, is this another one of your scams?

      Ah, Hello Officer Dibble

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Replacement

        Joking aside...

        Right now, with over 275 posts to this article, if each commentard contributed $5-10, we'd make a fair contribution towards a replacement.

        So, Kieran - how about having a word with the management, then setting up a fund-me page YOURSELF and putting the details up - I'm sure there will be a cohort of regular commentards who will gladly contribute. Set the limit to the MB spec of your choice + lock!

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Replacement

          This ^^. I have a few £ I would happily send.

  68. ffoulkes

    The first word out my mouth a loud and indignant, "Motherfucker!" showing how long I've been in America, followed by "grab him!" as he zoomed toward to the exit.

    I know that nobody would have the presence of mind under the circumstances, but it would have been fun to yell out, "Police! Stop or I shoot!"

  69. Gustavo Fring

    Product placement

    TV series ... Hmmmm Hand me one of those drinks .....Glug glug glug .......aaaahhhh that was refreshing. Its better now, they are getting more subtle.

    BTW many car co's specify that their cars cant be seen in a bad light..(no dents or scratches) so you get car chases where the cars magically re-generate themselves from take to take. French car co's especially ..

  70. herman Silver badge

    Lots of weapons in a coffee shop

    Nobody tossed their hot coffee at the perp?

  71. Andrew Moore

    Don't get mad, get even...

    A few years ago, right before Christmas, I met up with a mate of mine for a couple of pints. I had been out shopping and had a couple of bags with me. When I got up to leave I found that one of the bags had been nicked. Fortunately all it contained was a cake, nothing too valuable. I was told by the barman that a lot of stuff goes missing around that time of year because the scrotes know that people are likely to be buying presents and the like and pubs in particular get targeted. So, fast forward a year, I met my mate for a pint in the same place, and the same thing happened- the nice looking bag I'd brought with me got nicked. However this time it contained the massive output of my Labrador, scooped up in a Tupperware container and nicely gift wrapped.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't get mad, get even...

      > ...output of my Labrador...

      Cue awkward explaining under the Christmas tree.

  72. Snadowitz
    Happy

    Read how this guy got even after his mac was stolen...

    Read how this guy got even after his mac was stolen...

    https://plumpergeddon-blog.tumblr.com

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward? Haha xD

    Anyways, I type this Anonymous for two reasons.

    One I don't want to deal with the govt of where I live.

    Two I don't want to deal with people nonstop asking how(made that mistake once)

    If you have the info about the laptop as in the box it came in with the details on the side there is a way to locate it once it hits the net even if it's for a sec because we all know how easy icloud locks really are.

  74. the future is back!

    Back.Up

    I use Carbon Copy Cloner (for years) for weekly total HD backups on 2TB HD locked up in a safe - and it’s bootable. Also use Mac’s TimeMachine 24/7. Of course my Mac is not a laptop. I travel a lot and use my phone, even for MS Office if I need to write something Cloud: iCloud, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive. And a paid password manager. IPhone was ripped off two years ago and I watched my phone migrate around the District of Columbia, with me posting messages, etc. After 24 hours I locked it. Day after that I wiped it and had my carrier kill it.

    Sorry about the MacBook. Maybe an honest person will get hold of it and you’ll get it back.

  75. TomG

    I see two big mistakes that you made. The first mistake; buying an Apple product and second; working in a coffee shop.

  76. WonkoTheSane

    Business opportunity?

    Wonder if there's any mileage in buying up old, dead laptops & turning the shells into covers for shiny new "thin & light" laptops?

  77. Jove Bronze badge

    After Market ...

    So from all of this we can probably safely assume that there is a functioning after-market in stolen Apple kit.

    A rough guess at the M.O.:

    - leave the kit switched off for a few moths to filter out most attempts to recover kit via tracking features,

    - Remove victims data from disk - possibly to sell-on - before attaching to a network,

    - Sell the kit into the export market or to unsuspecting victims in the second-hand market before they realise it is stolen (there are a few articles suggesting that this is what is happening),

    - Use in a shared access facility where the long arm of the law has not reach.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too bad its california

    you could open carry.

  79. darklord

    So a so called tech savvy Journalist eh, but definitely only a user!!!!!

    So you didn't disable the guest account which any admin would immediately do on receipt of a new laptop. hmmmm not sure that ech savvy I guess.

  80. rmstock

    Refrain from Computing in Sanctuary Cities

    "A question flashed through my mind: how dangerous is this? And immediately discarded it: we were on a main road in the heart of San Francisco. Dozens of people were nearby. All I had to do was get him on the ground and someone would come help me pin him down."

    Sorry dear but San Francisco is a Sanctuary city and as such has been condemned as failed territory :

    San Francisco Supervisors Sanitize ‘Convicted Felon’ to ‘Justice-Involved Person’

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/22/san-francisco-supervisors-sanitize-convicted-felon-to-justice-involved-person/

  81. AstroCam

    Chromebook

    Now having read the el reg story about the expiration of the chromebook I would just like to say it is a good low cost computer. You can save your photos to your google drive and what not. Taking this piece of trash out means if it is nicked by some **** then I am only down 150. Perhaps it would be prudent to take a working pc out with you like the chrometrash and leave the good Mac Book in the house. Then swap data via the cloud if needed.

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