Skype stops swipe

My Business production editor Gail Lipscombe shares a reader experience of busting a laptop thief using Skype. Learn why the crook 'fessed up and went straight in this story.

While waiting at an airport to jet off on business interstate, the reader merrily headed off to departures to board his plane. All had been going swimmingly up to that point – a nice glass of wine, some bikkies and cheese, a quiet read on his Kindle, a pleasant chat with a fellow traveler.

However, it wasn’t until he was in the air that he realised he had left his laptop back in the airport lounge.

When he landed at his destination, he called the airport and was told to ring back the next day to see if it had been handed in.

As if that would ever happen.

It was also about this time, when considering all the possible ways this could play out, that he greatly regretted not having password-protected his laptop.

Meanwhile, back at home, his wife noticed that the traveler had signed in online, but knew that he could not possibly have reached his destination yet. So like any concerned spouse, she Skyped him to find out if there was a problem. Immediately after the Skype message was sent, the recipient logged off the Internet.


But all was explained an hour or two later, when she received a phone call from her distraught husband complaining about the lost laptop.

And while she was still on the phone, lo and behold, his laptop came back online.

The quick-thinking wife fired off another message to whoever was operating the laptop, saying that the person using it should be aware that it had a tracking device installed and that they should cut their losses and hand it in before she let the authorities know he or she was using an ill-gotten PC.

A vain hope, you might think, but guess what? The next day when the airport was contacted, someone had indeed handed it in.

Of course, there was no tracking device fitted, but the ruse worked a treat. Ah, the power of technology.

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