The Computer Blog

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

iBook Lost: Stolen while Enroute via FedEx

Over the years, I’ve shipped a good number of Apple computer systems to various family members and did so using the original system boxes. I wrote briefly about spending a weekend upgrading a G3 iBook and then shipping it out to my sister-in-law via FedEx Ground. It arrived at her place last week. Rather, the box I shipped it in arrived last week; someone working for FedEx had cut through the sealing tape and removed the iBook and its power adapter from the package. Interestingly and rather idiocally, as most thefts are, they left the system software in the package.
I asked my sister-in-law to report the theft, and she did. FedEX immediately opened a claim and said they’d have someone out to talk to her in 24 hours. It’s been 48 hours, and, to my knowledge, no one has contacted her, though I will verify that today.
Checking on the web, I found that having an iBook stolen while in transit with FedEx is not that unusual.

I have to wonder, too, since Apple uses FedEx for all their system shipments, how many new MacBooks and MacBook Pro’s are not making it to their destinations due to enroute theft.

For once, shipping something by UPS is looking like a better value, and shipping by USPS better still.

Why did they take the notebook and not one of the desktop systems or monitors I shipped? Size. It was obvious from what was left in our package that the thief worked in a hurry, probably both removing the iBook and stashing it somewhere in one quick move. It’s also easier to haul around once they sneak it out of the vicinity, whether they’re taking it for personal use or to haul off to a pawn shop to sell for drug or alcohol money. I found a statistic that said that 70% of stolen notebooks were not recovered.

What can you do to prevent this type of thing? First, ship the notebook in a non-descriptive, plain brown box. You can achieve the same end by double-boxing a system in an Apple box or, at least, covering it with brown paper. Secondly, load the machine with a piece of software like the open source Adeona which not only will allow you to track the stolen notebook to its new location but will also allow you to take a picture of the current “user” in conjunction with a freeware tool named “isightcapture”. You can use that information to contact police and , hopefully, recover your stolen notebook and arrest the thief. Adeonis only runs on Tiger and Leopard and its installer was broken by Apple’s August 1, 2008 Security Update, but that is soon expected to be fixed. There are also commercial tools of the same sort such as those from Absolute Software, Synet, or Bak2U.

As for me, well, my only recourse now is to see if I can collect on the insurance I paid FedEx for. Stay tuned.

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