Ask A Theft Recovery Expert

They don’t really wear capes and have super powers. And it’s not true that they never need sleep, either. Still, the officers of the Absolute Theft Recovery Team do an incredible job and have some pretty interesting stories to tell about it.

If you’ve ever wondered how they do what they do, now’s your chance to ask. Gabrielle Plé has been with Absolute Software for 7 years. She’s agreed to share some of what goes on behind the scenes during a laptop recovery.

So if there’s been something you want to know about the Recovery Team’s work, leave a comment with your question. Gabrielle will answer as many as she can.

If you have a support question, please visit Absolute Global Support.

Indictments and criminal complaints are unproven accusations and the accused in all cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Absolute
Absolute provides persistent endpoint security and data risk management solutions for computers, tablets, and smartphones. Our customers rely on us to provide them with a unique and trusted layer of security so they can manage mobility while remaining firmly in control. By providing them with a persistent connection to all of their devices, our customers can secure endpoints, assess risk, and respond appropriately to security incidents.
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45 Comments

  1. Rusty ShacklfordJuly 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    1) If the computer is stolen and the HDD is swapped with another HDD that doesn’t have computrace installed, then theroetically it’s untraceable. This is, of course, unless it’s installed in the BIOS, in which case, the BIOS will install the calling agent back in the registry. Now, on to part 2 of this.

    2) Let’s say the computer is stolen and then they swap the HDD and then they flash the BIOS. In this case, one is lead to believe that the computer is NOW untraceable. Or is it? Would they have to flash it or fully replace it?

  2. I see that LoJack is flashed in to the BIOS of many computers. I looked at the list of BIOS Compatible computers and I see that my Dell XPS 1640 is not listed.

    Does this mean that LoJack is not located in my BIOS?

    Can I get it flashed in to my BIOS?

    If not, this makes me less comfortable with LoJack knowing that all a thief needs to do is remove the hard drive.

    • I just wanted to note that Absolute did respond by email and explained that my PC does have LJ flashed in to my BIOS. I was looking at the wrong listing. Mine is a Studio XPS 1640 and listed as “Studio 16″.

      http://www.absolute.com/bios

      This sure makes me feel a lot better.

  3. 1. My Sony VGN-Z690 is not on your bios enabled list. Does this mean that my chances of recover are less and is there anyway to change this? 2. Bios can be reflashed. Will this completely get rid of LowJack? 3. My Sony laptop does not have a hard drive it has Solid State memory instead. While this prevents someone from removing the drive would LowJack be removered during reformatting?

  4. Why do I now have a Absolute notifier icon in the lower right hand side of my laptop. Won’t this be a dead give away to the theif? He’ll know immediately that I have tracking software on my computer.

  5. I think they do wear capes and have superpowers…and they give you a peace of mind when it comes to your property. Not to mention, they do what the police cant seem to do. Which is find your laptop. I bought a laptop for my family for Christmas, my house was burglarized, numerous presents and items were stolen from our home. Lucky for me, I had got the new Dell Laptop out and charged it, updated everything, which included registering the LoJack, prior to wrapping it. 2 days later the burglary happened. My gift to my family was re-gifted, and shortly after Christmas, the laptop went online. It was only a matter of days until the police had my laptop at the station. When you report it stolen to Computrace/LoJack, you can check the status of your case online-which I did with on our desktop computer. I was contacted by my LoJack investigator about the process and progress of the investigation. They were absolutly fantastic to work with! When they found our laptop, this also led the police to the juveniles who burglarized our home. So not only did we get our laptop back, we had some justice brought on who stole from us. Double the satisfaction! So for those of you who are researching getting this for your laptop, I am a tried and true case. It works! It is more than worth the cost to have this installed on your laptop! If you are purchasing a new laptop it may already be loaded on it, you just have to register it. My Dell laptop came with it. And I cant think both companies enough!

  6. you need protection in todays world and you offer the best

  7. Dear LoJac for Laptops:
    What are the most common scenarios for laptops being stolen? Any tips from avoiding theft of my laptop in the first place?

    • James,
      Burglaries make up 60% of all stolen machines reported to Absolute Software. Here are a few tips for avoiding theft.

      1. Keep your laptop in a backpack or some other kind of general purpose bag, rather than a specialized case that says, “Hey, there’s a laptop in here!”

      2. Avoid leaving your laptop lying around unsecured or uncovered, even “just for a minute.” A minute is all it takes.

      3. Be aware that most computers-desktops AND laptops-are stolen from residences. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because your laptop rarely leaves your house, dorm room or apartment.

      Hope that helps.

      Kelly
      Marketing Manager, LoJack for Laptops

  8. Hi Sara, Providing the computer is connected to the internet via hard wire (internet cable) the LoJack agent can make a call from the password screen. If the thief/end user cannot get past the password screen they will likely reformat the computer.

    Depending on whether or not the computer was BIOS enabled, once the reformatted computer connects to the internet, the computer will still call into our monitoring center. We will still be able to track it and gather information from it.
    Check to see if your computer is BIOS enabled or not at:
    http://www.absolute.com/bios

    If BIOS Enabled – The Computrace/LoJack agent is on the motherboard as well as the hard drive of your computer and therefore, the thief cannot remove it by re-formatting the computer.

    If NOT BIOS Enabled – Thieves do have ways to circumvent passwords that do not include reformatting the hard drive. However, if the thief or end user reformats the hard drive, it will likely remove the Computrace/LoJack agent.

    Thanks,
    Gabrielle Plé – Team Lead – Recovery Services

  9. Hi there,

    The thing I always wonder about is that in order to load the windows interface and get on the internet, you have to enter a password. What if the thief cannot crack the password? Does my computer still connect to the internet before the windows interface is loaded?

    Thanks!

  10. if someone steals my laptop,while is off or on sleep mode ,can it be recovered?

    • Hi Mike, Your computer must be turned on and connected to the internet for the LoJack agent to call our monitoring center. We require calls from your computer to collect evidence and attempt to locate it.
      Thanks,
      Gabrielle Plé, Team Lead – Recovery Services

  11. Hi there I am wondering how to tell if my computer is BIOS enabled? I’m not real certain on what that is but I have a newer version of Dell Inspiron laptop and it has windows 7 installed on it if that means anything?

  12. Well where do we call when someone steals your laptop? What are the steps to follow after that?
    Thanks for the chance to ask questions.

  13. FYI,

    We have LoJack on our Laptop and it did get stolen right off our kitchen table. We called Lojack and within I believe 1 week to a week in a half they located it and our local police department recovered it. Lojack had to wait till the computer was turned on by whom ever possed it. We could not get it back from the police department until they were done with the investigating etc (a little over 2months). But we got it back and we were very happy with the service received from LoJack. Happy ending!!!!

  14. Will Lojack work if the stolen computer connects to the internet from behind a router or hardware firewall?

    • Hi Kilroy, Thanks for the question! Yes the LoJack agent will still work if you are behind a router or firewall.
      Thanks,
      Gabrielle Plé, Team Lead – Recovery Services

  15. is there a way to confirm if my laptop is lojack bios enabled?

  16. How can LoJack services trace the exact location (address) of a computer which connects to the internet from an apartment/condominium in order to execute the recovery process?

    i.e. multiple tenants residing at one primary address, how can Lojack services isolate which exact unit # has connected to the internet.

    Is this done via MAC address trace/lookup of the computer?

    Thanks.

    • Hi Emil, You may be getting the LoJack for Laptops technology confused with GPS technology? The LoJack agent is a software agent which is installed on the computer and contacts our monitoring center via internet connection once a day. Once the computer has been reported stolen, the LoJack agent is given instructions to contact us more frequently (providing it has internet connection). Using our forensic tools we obtain information regarding the user of the computer and attempt to identify who the person is and where they are located. In some cases, the IP address collected from the computer is provided to the police; a subpoena is created and served on the Internet Service Provider (ISP) requesting the customer records for who was using that IP at the time the LoJack agent made a call.
      Hopefully this helps!
      Gabrielle Plé, Team Lead – Recovery Services

  17. THANKS FOR HELPING ME GET MY COMPUTER BACK — THE GUY THAT STOLE IT IS NOW IN JAIL — THANK YOU AGAIN –IT WAS WORTH THE MONEY
    RALPPH A. SMITH

  18. What happens if the laptop is never found and the owner doesnt have a warranty but had lojack on it. Will lojack replace it or what?

    • @Ryan S,
      LoJack for Laptops is not a replacement service. We attempt to recover your stolen laptop. However, if you purchased a version of LoJack for Laptops that has the Service Guarantee, you may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 if the computer is not recovered. More details about the Service Guarantee can be found in our Service Guarantee FAQ http://www.absolute.com/Shared/FAQs/ABT-SG-FAQ-E.sflb.ashx

      Thanks,

      Kelly Curnow
      Marketing Manager
      LoJack for Laptops

  19. i really feel safe to know my computer is protected by lojack

  20. Graham: On average we recover over 100 computers each week, however we don’t have numbers as to the percentage that are never recovered.
    Gabrielle Plé, Team Lead – Recovery Services

  21. Justin: Our experience has shown that most thefts are crimes of opportunity committed by opportunistic thieves looking for an easy target. The thief will use the computer to connect to the internet or quickly resell the laptop to an unsuspecting victim who connects to the internet. While it’s possible that a computer would never connect, we’ve found that in the majority of cases it does and that’s why we recover on average over 100 computers each week.
    Gabrielle Plé, Team Lead – Recovery Services

  22. Hi Sherman,

    Please refer to my post directed to Driven and Kurt regarding hard drive removal.

    If your computer is stolen please contact the police first. Obtain a police case number and the name of the Officer who took the report. You can then either log in to your LoJack account or contact us by phone to report your computer as stolen.

    Thanks!
    Gabrielle Plé
    Team Lead – Recovery Services

  23. Sherman N. Glasco, Sr.November 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

    What if the harddrive is removed, is the laptop still able to be tracked?

    Should we contact the police first or AbsoluteCorp in the event of the theft my laptop?

  24. Hi Driven and Kurt,

    Since you both have similar questions I’ll answer them together.

    Depending on whether or not the computer was BIOS enabled, once the reformatted computer connects to the internet, the computer will still call into our monitoring center. We will still be able to track it and gather information from it.

    Check to see if your computer is BIOS enabled or not at:
    http://www.absolute.com/en/products/bios-compatibility.aspx

    If BIOS Enabled – The Computrace/LoJack agent is on the motherboard as well as the hard drive of your computer and therefore, the thief cannot remove it by re-formatting the computer.

    If NOT BIOS Enabled – Thieves do have ways to circumvent passwords that do not include reformatting the hard drive. However, if the thief or end user reformats the hard drive, it will likely remove the Computrace/LoJack agent.

    This also applies if the hard drive was swapped rather than the original hard drive being formatted.

    Thanks!
    Gabrielle Plé
    Team Lead – Recovery Services

  25. Hi Kevin & Stephen,

    Thanks for your question!

    Once you report your computer to us it is marked as “stolen” in our database and we begin monitoring it. Once a stolen computer connects to the Internet, the Recovery Team is notified. A Theft Recovery Officer is assigned to the case and reviews the Theft Report. Once enough information is gathered from the computer through Internet connections, the Theft Recovery Officer initiates an investigative process with the appropriate law enforcement division. The Theft Recovery Officer then prepares legal support documents to assist law enforcement. Law enforcement may then subpoena the Internet Service Provider (ISP) seeking customer subscriber records, providing this is a hard wired connection. The timeframe for the return of these records varies from a few days to 2 weeks or longer, depending on the ISP. If the connections are coming from an unsecure wireless network then the Theft Recovery Officer relies on information collected from the machine through the use of patented Forensic Tools. This allows us to collect other forms of evidence from the stolen computer in order to determine the user’s identity. Using the records provided by the ISP and any other evidence obtained by the Theft Recovery Officer, the police investigator obtains a search warrant and searches the address obtained as a result.

    We track the computer for 1 year from the time it’s stolen.

    Hopefully this has answered your questions. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

    Gabrielle Plé
    Team Lead – Recovery Services

  26. what if the thief never connects to the internet?? how will it be traced

    • Most laptops, when turned on, will automatically begin searching for a signal, or wi-fi, or something (unless you have turned that option off – so don’t do that). So as soon as they turn on the computer…it’s searching for a signal.
      Then the magic happens…

  27. What percent of laptops don’t get recovered?

  28. What happens if the thief immediately erases/formats the hard drive? Is the laptop still tracable?

  29. Stephen C ThompsonNovember 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

    What are the steps in the process when someone reports a missing laptop?

  30. What happens if the crooks just rip out the harddrive. They are then free to use the laptop with their own drive.
    Or is the tracker in the BIOS ?

    • its in the bios. to safe guard against unauthorized use i set up a system password through bios. they cannot break it like a windows password can be. hope this helps

  31. I do feel more secure with LoJack installed on my computer, but sometimes I do wonder what if!?

    What steps are taken when a device is reported stolen and how long will the team stay on the task?

    Thank you and have a great day,

    Kevin Campbell

    • I had my laptop stolen and the person who did knew that I had installed LoJack, He thought he had uninstall it but he was wrong… after removing the operating system and installing one of his choosing he decided to go online. LoJack Security Team pin pointed exactly where my Laptop was, call Law enforcement agents and made the arrest; He was charged with two felony charges, a six month Vacation at the County Jail and Had to Pay me $500.00. My computer was gone for exactly two weeks….. I Cant Thank YOU enough… Great Job.
      Best choice I have ever made.

    • Similar problem – my laptop was stolen and the next day the theft used the internet. My computer and some of the other items stolen were returned to me within a week.
      There were NO leads, no fingerprints, no motives, nothing…just my investment this product – and that little investment was worth all the things stolen and stolen from other people.
      It’s worth it and I will always have this product on my computer – I just wish it worked for everything else that was stolen and not recovered….