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trace stolen pc

Posted on 2010-11-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello,

the parcel with my new laptop seems lost. Is there any chance to find it automatically, while that laptop is online ?:
* Maybe thanks to the serial number of the hardware, of the preinstalled windows 7 of MSOffice or ... ?
* if so, would it be the internet service provider, or rather microsoft (during one of the many service pack upgrades?), or the hardware producer (Lenovo), or ... ?

I know that for mobile phones, such a trace is easy, but for laptops using a WLAN ?

Best regards, Sonja
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Question by:Sonja_M
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 59 total points
ID: 34208820
It is very extremely unlikely YOU will find it.  Even if the vendors (Microsoft, or an ISP) would be willing to spend the hours of time researching your particular machines details in their logs, they likely won't share it with YOU.  They would only give it to the proper law enforcement authorities with the proper authorization (such as a court order in the USA).  It's not worth the expense for them to track it down when you can probably buy a new laptop for a few hundred dollars.  As for the "critical" data you may have had on it, that's why encryption software is sold and why there are huge fines when the laptops are lost and NOT encrypted but contain public information.  
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by:rjwesley
rjwesley earned 60 total points
ID: 34208828
Co-operation from MS, IBM (Lenovo) would of course require police services. which in some cases police won't pursue, did you have a product like Lojack preinstalled?

Rob
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by:MickyJW
MickyJW earned 313 total points
ID: 34208863
Hi Sonja,

Was it lost or stolen? Are the couriers able to track it?

Is it a brand new laptop just shipped from the factory?

Computrace is a program designed for this function directly, but needs to be first installed / configured on the machine.
http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/na/LenovoPortal/en_US/special-offers.workflow:ShowPromo?LandingPage=/All/US/Sitelets/Software/Anti-Theft-Protection

If you can provide the Type(MT)/SN I can track if any warranty claims have been made against it for you, which may be able to assist in your enquiry.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 34208865
Even with a project like LoJack installed, your laptop is going to be very low on the police priority list.  Even then, it could end up remaining as evidence in a police storage facility well past it's useful life.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 34208878
Finally, I'm not saying you shouldn't report it stolen if you believe it was... but don't hold your breath assuming you'll ever get it back.  Contact the insurance company - if you have one - or buy a new laptop and if you are lucky enough to ever see it (again), resell it on ebay or give it to a friend if you can't find a use for it.
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Author Comment

by:Sonja_M
ID: 34213010
Hello all,

some details:
* yes, it is a brand new pc, and the shipment from the dealer to me got lost
* according to the vendor, windows 7 and MS office is preinstalled. Nothing else.
* of course, I do not expect Mr Bill Gates to take a look into his logfiles manually, but maybe there is an automatic standard to trace PCs reported to the police as stolen (at least in Switzerland, for mobile phones such automatic procedures exist :-), so why not for PCs, too ?).
* to MickyJW: thanks for the interesting link. CompuTrace is most probably not installed :-(. On which site can I see warranty claims, if any ?

Best regards, Sonja
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by:caballo_oscuro
caballo_oscuro earned 67 total points
ID: 34213127
i would not waste my time if i where you trying to even find it. Dell laptop computers come preinstalled with a program accessable by getting into the bios which if activated ( and its not by default ) will locate the laptop when on line. If the courier cocked up then its down to them and just make sure you have not had a neighbour sign for it?
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by:rjwesley
ID: 34213193
I would think this would involve some heated arguments with the courier as it appears they are the responsible party.

Rob
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Author Comment

by:Sonja_M
ID: 34213333
riwesley & caballo oscuro,

indeed, some documents show that possibly a neighbour has signed and it might have been stolen after. My problem is: I do not want to ruin the good neighbour relationship (my neighbours are honest), so if there is a technical way to find the pc, the better. In my country, the courier has clearly failed by letting sign a neighbour, that's forbidden.

Back to technical tracing: details are welcome.

- Sonja
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by:caballo_oscuro
ID: 34213969
well the answer is no you can not trace it. secondly if your neighbour signed for it they will have either kept it or disposed of it. let the courier compant worry about aprooaching them. just put the monkey back on their back.you ordered they never delivered end of subject.
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MickyJW earned 313 total points
ID: 34214274
Hi Sonja,

My first suggestion is that you try and sort the situation out with the courier and get them to retrieve or replace the machine.
I can say that as I work for IBM/Lenovo support, we do not have any in place procedures to handle lost or stolen machines, it is purely up to the client and/or police to investigate.

In saying that however, I have heard of companies that can perform MAC address traces over the net.
If you ring Lenovo support on 131426 opt 1, they may be able to provide you with a history of any warranty claims and/or the machines MAC address, however you would probably need the Machine Type / Serial number and some sort of proof that you are indeed the purchaser of the machine, no guarantees, but worth a try.
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Author Comment

by:Sonja_M
ID: 34214924
Hi MickyJW,

definitively I will follow your first suggestion.

And in case it does not work: 131426: is that a phone number ? From inside US ?

Best regards, Sonja
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by:MickyJW
MickyJW earned 313 total points
ID: 34214933
My apologies, thats the Australian phone number, would recommend going to lenovo.com to find out the correct US phone number to call.
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Expert Comment

by:vernony
ID: 34215843
if the machine is formatted and rebuilt, i dont think you are able to locate it again
unless the manufacture has built-in hardware-level tool to trace all their devices, that would be another story. to have a try, please consult your vendor and confirm it.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Sonja_M
ID: 34217798
thanks for all your shared technical knowledge !

Yours, Sonja
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