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Crime Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Protecting Tech Gear From Smash-and-Grab Theft? 514

Posted by timothy
from the disguise-as-a-tape-deck dept.
rstory writes "I seem to be hearing about more smash and grab thefts lately, from low-tech purse snatching to thieves after laptops and cameras. Bold thieves are even snatching stuff in church/day-care parking lots in the 5 minute window while a parent goes in to pick up their child. I often drive around with my laptop, and want to find the best way to protect against theft. Besides the obvious 'don't leave equipment in the car' solution, what else are people doing? Right now I just use a regular backpack instead of a fancy laptop case. I don't have a trunk, so when I leave the car I put the backpack on the floor of the back seat, sometimes throwing other junk on top. The only interesting thing I've found while googling is a couple of 'anti-theft' backpacks which have wire mesh to prevent cutting them open and a (thin looking) cable for securing to a stationary object. What do you do to protect your gear?"
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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Tech Gear From Smash-and-Grab Theft?

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  • by adeelarshad82 (1482093) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:13PM (#38384742) Homepage
    Well for laptops you can install software that can help you track your laptop or protect your files from a remote location. There are ton of them out there, listed in the article below http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387748,00.asp [pcmag.com]
    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:22PM (#38384852) Homepage
      There are a lot of articles about this, and probably suit his needs.

      I'm waiting to see someone combine these remote tracking and accessibility methods with semtex and finishing nails packed in the old optical drive bay.
    • by bignetbuy (1105123) <r0ck@operamaiFREEBSDl.com minus bsd> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#38384872) Journal

      What happens when the perp wipes the hard drive? Barring some BIOS magic, your software just disappears. That's the first thing I do when I steal laptops.

      • Well, the location can be tracked from the second it laptop is turned on and since wiping a laptop isn't instantaneous it gives you a (very) small window to track the culprit. Plus i'm assuming most people don't even expect a a tracking software on the device to being with. So in most cases you should get lucky.
        • by dysan27 (913206) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:32PM (#38384976)

          The location can be tracked as soon as your OS loads, you can wipe a laptop without ever loading the OS

          • by froggymana (1896008) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:48PM (#38389330)

            The location can be tracked as soon as your OS loads, you can wipe a laptop without ever loading the OS

            This is why theft tracking shouldn't be left to the OS (or any program ran by it). There should be a separate piece of hardware, hidden inside the computer that would leach power off the laptop's battery/power supply (or possibly have it's own). Ideally it should have GPS and a 3G radio to send such tracking information to "the cloud". It would be nice to see a DIY/"opensource" version done of this done so some a company wouldn't be able to track you (as easily). This way even if the original OS was never loaded after a theft you could still track your precious laptop.

        • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:33PM (#38385002)

          Well, the location can be tracked from the second it laptop is turned on and since wiping a laptop isn't instantaneous it gives you a (very) small window to track the culprit.

          How does it do this with no Internet and booting from a system recovery disk? It is only helpful to catch the stupid criminals. Admittedly, that is most of them.

          But it does nothing for the real problem. You now need a new window and backpack. The only good solution is to avoid the smash...

        • by bignetbuy (1105123) <r0ck@operamaiFREEBSDl.com minus bsd> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:35PM (#38385030) Journal

          You're assuming the perp plugs in the laptop to his network. Why would he do that? Network access isn't needed when wiping laptops. Just pop in a bootable CD or USB flash drive, wait a few minutes, and laptop has been wiped.

      • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:45PM (#38385144)

        What happens when the perp wipes the hard drive? Barring some BIOS magic, your software just disappears

        LoJack for Laptops has code in the firmware of all of the major laptop manufacturers. The code is dormant, but wakes up when you install the product. Once activated, the code checks for the presence of the LoJack agent on the hard drive and replaces it if it's removed or if it's been tampered with. It will survived an OS re-install, hard drive wipe - Even a hard drive swap.

      • by rickb928 (945187) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:49PM (#38385218) Homepage Journal

        My work laptop drive is encrypted. We consider the data far more valuable than the hardware, and they can have it.

        My personal tablet notebook has the TPC engaged, and without the drive (which is unique and expensive) it's worthless. If I'm at all competent as a thief, I know this and avoid that model and those similar. The meth heads aren't, so I would probably check CL and find it for sale in a day or so. Ring ring.

        In fact, my work notebook, when it is replaced, is essentially scrap. We have to shred the drives, rendering the rest of it worth zilch. Kinda sad.

        Personally, I would bolt an eye to a seat, use a Kensington cable, and if it is really that bad thread the cable through the bag onto the notebook. This is mostly to slow down a thief, and leave you with a broken window instead. First step is to camo the bag, either slipping it under a seat or behind something innocuous. In the convertible you can hardly see my bag. In the Explorer, slipping it under a rear seat makes it virtually invisible also. Anyone who sees me do that of course knows the trick, but that's an even smaller window of opportunity. A decent car alarm will help some, but your window is busted anyways. LoJack for laptops sounds good until you find out it's in India.

    • by S810 (168676) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:34PM (#38385006) Homepage

      I work for a Major Bank and we have BiOS "Magic" that will track the Wi-Fi Card MAC, HDD MAC and MB MAC regardless of how many times the HDD is wiped. We have made it so it would be more expensive to replace all of those parts than it would be buy a new laptop. It works as we have laptops stolen all the time and find them with the help of local law enforcement.

      The Caveat is that it has to be on a the internet for us to track it. So if someone wants it to just be a local word processor to print to a local printer we will never know about it.

    • Even if it works, you still need to replace a window.
    • by Translation Error (1176675) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:54PM (#38385284)
      That may help once your laptop has been stolen, but it doesn't do anything to prevent the theft in the first place. It may not be a bad idea, but it isn't really what the submitter is asking about.
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>may help once your laptop has been stolen, but it doesn't do anything to prevent the theft in the first place. It may not be a bad idea, but it isn't really what the submitter is asking about.

        Yeah, and, worse, his strategy is to put his laptop into a backpack.

        As someone who had his car's side passenger window smashed in to steal my ordinary-looking backpack, I can assure you the police say people do so exactly with the expectation to walk away with it with some high tech gear.

        All they got were my Ma

  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius DOT driver AT mac DOT com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:16PM (#38384774) Journal

    If I park somewhere that has a reasonable chance of a smash-and-grab, I take valuables with me.

    Period.

    Who cares if it's locked down to something, if it looks like there is something valuable in the car, it's going to get broken in to. And if they can't take the thing they really want, they'll likely do extra damage, just because.

    Other than that, I try to avoid leaving my car in locations that I worry about its safety.

    • by Duhavid (677874) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:20PM (#38384830)

      I agree completely.

      If you do have to leave the stuff in the car, seems to me that you should put it in whatever area of the car is safe and bury it *when you leave*, not when you arrive. In my mind nothing would say "there's valuables here" than futzing around with those things at the destination.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:20PM (#38384834)

      Yup, just take it with you. If you can't take it with you, put it in the boot (trunk) - much harder to smash and grab from the boot, and the thief has to take a chance on there being something in there rather than scoping out the back seats of all the cars around yours.

      The passenger compartment of both my cars is kept pretty spotless - there is nothing there for a thief to take a chance on, and you would be surprised just how low value something needs to be for the chance to be taken. Remove all temptation, don't just hide the high value stuff under low value temptation.

      • by Extremus (1043274)

        Automotive window film is also a good solution in some occasions. It holds the window glass together when broken, making it more difficult to the robber to smash the window open.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:29PM (#38384934) Journal

        If you can't take it with you, put it in the boot (trunk) - much harder to smash and grab from the boot,

        I don't know where you got that idea.
        Trunk locks are utter crap and trunk latches are just as bad.
        Not to mention that they can just smash a window and pull the trunk release.

        All things being equal, you should prefer someone smashing a window
        and pulling the trunk release instead of prying open your trunk with a crowbar.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)

        much harder to smash and grab from the boot

        I can't speak for outside the US, but most cars have a button in the glove box that when pushed open a locked trunk, if you smash a window to get in to grab something smashing the windows and pushing the button to open the trunk is not that much more difficult.

        I get on my wife all the time for leaving things visible in her vehicle, to the point that I nearly yell at her for leaving a quarter visible. If they want it they will break a window, I'd hate to spend a hu

    • by snowgirl (978879)

      If I park somewhere that has a reasonable chance of a smash-and-grab, I take valuables with me.

      Agreed. I had a shifty landlord, and we were involved in legal process against him (temporary restraining order already obtained). We thought he might be stupid enough to do something stupid, (he had already grabbed a piece of evidence out of my hands and ripped it up IN THE COURTROOM HALLS) but I let my guard down, and he surprised me with how stupid he could be, when he broke into my place and stole my laptop and briefcase with all my legal stuff (including evidence).

      My lesson learned? Don't give people o

  • Get a dog? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ion++ (134665) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:16PM (#38384778)

    Get a dog and keep it in the car.

  • I do have a trunk... so I throw it in there. Beyond that I minimize the impact of it getting stolen by using full disk encryption.

    Does your car not have any kind of lockable storage (actually what kind of car is this anywayno trunk?). If so, put it in there, otherwise you could always buy a jewellery safe and have a friend who is good with tools weld it to the floor, roof, or remove one of the seats and put the safe there. You could also keep your laptop and GPS and other gear in a hardened suitcase handcuf

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MitchDev (2526834)
      A ridiculous number of compact and subcompact cars have no trunk these days, they are glorified hatchbacks in effect. Although minivans and SUVsgenerally don't have trunks either....
    • by Alan Shutko (5101)

      Really, you want lockable and opaque storage. Many SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, station wagons and hatchbacks have storage you can lock, but since it's in the cabin there are also windows on the area.

    • by Duhavid (677874)

      As an example, I have a GMC Safari, no lockable storage in it.
      Hatchbacks might have similar issues.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmailCURIE.com minus physicist> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:19PM (#38384810) Homepage

    I don't leave it in my car. And when I leave it in my work vehicle, it's locked in a floor safe because it's work related and the company paid for it.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:20PM (#38384816) Journal

    ...holding laptop, make sure to solder an unobtrusive on/off switch someplace you can reach but non-obvious on the briefcase (or connected to the briefcase by wire.

    Fun! :)

    (I had a friend who did something similar to the hood ornament of his Dad's Mercedes during the 80's when everyone was stealing them.)

    • To keep things legit... Put a high voltage label on it.
    • 12 Volts at 550 Amps wouldn't even go through your skin. Needs to be closer to 48 Volts. If you converted to AC and added a transformer, ~100 amps could be delivered. If you wanted to be lazy, a good inverter will also do the trick. Just make sure and bridge all fuses (check inside, too!)
    • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:28PM (#38385836)

      A 12 volt battery will only deliver 550 amps through a 0.21 ohm load. Since the human body is around 50,000 or more, your "friend" would have delivered a whopping 0.00024 amps to the would-be thief, which you can't even feel. Sorry, but I used to be a truck mechanic and the batteries were rated a good bit higher than 550 CCA. I touched both terminals numerous times, and you really feel nothing. I started trucks by shorting across the starter numerous times which touching the frame. Nothing.

      Now, the ignition coil at around 20kV, would be a very different thing. I never experienced that first hand since everything I worked on was diesel, but my mechanic friends told me it hurt like a s.o.b.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    >>I don't have a trunk, so when I leave the car I put the backpack on the floor of the back seat, sometimes throwing other junk on top.

    Seriously? You expect technology to solve this?

    Sorry to be so blunt with the title, but that sums it up. If you don't want your shit stolen, don't leave it laying around for an opportunistic thief.

    Take your stuff with you.

  • like to those used for firearms by people who carry concealed weapons when they're forced to leave their sidearm in their vehicle (e.g., when dropping by the post office or a bank).

    http://www.google.com/?q=vehicle+firearms+safe [google.com]

    William

  • Get a Trunk Monkey..
    http://youtu.be/geynA-JYDHE

  • by Tufriast (824996) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:23PM (#38384864)
    GPS beaconed and battery-backuped/powered strong box hardwired into your car's battery and built into its frame is the most definitive solution. Throw some biometric thumbprint scanning and numeric passcode locking if you really want to go overboard. This is an expensive solution though. ($10K plus to start with.) If you are driving a car without a trunk, upgrade your car for maximum protection. You set priorities in life, so you decide how secure your want your setup. I think that you could suffice with a small strong box with lock, key, and tumbler code and some degree of heft to it. Perhaps 35 pounds or more. This would deter speed and swiftness.
  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#38384870)

    It's an old photographer's trick to keep gear in a diaper bag. Nobody wants to go near that (literal) shit.

  • my solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#38384878)
    When I was carrying my laptop around in a slim jacket instead of backpack, I'd just put it under the floor mat on the passenger front side.
  • Nothing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Make sure it is covered by auto/home-owner/renter insurance and back-up regularly.

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:25PM (#38384890)

    rstory, as the submitter of this question, you neglected to provide a link to yourself and your /. profile [slashdot.org] doesn't seem very informative.

    Can you please give us a few details. Particularly, oh I dunno, maybe some info on where you like to park your car? Thanks!!

    P.S. FYI, you can post stories as ac.

  • by haystor (102186) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:27PM (#38384910)

    If I'm going around with my laptop, I put it in the inconspicuous place in my car *before* I get in my car. Not after I've stopped and everyone nearby can see that I'm hiding something valuable.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:28PM (#38384926) Homepage Journal

    Not that I like the NRA but a GOA sticker doesn't have the same brand recognition.

  • Personalize it (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeng (926980) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:28PM (#38384930)

    It is a lot harder to sell a laptop covered in stickers and scratches than it is to sell a laptop that is in mint condition.

    It might not look professional, but that is kinda the point.

  • This seems like a strange question. It seems like the best policy is to assume there's nothing special about your laptop or any other tech gear and just treat it as if it was a woman's purse. What do you do to keep anything from being stolen?

    The bottom line is that most petty crimes are crimes of opportunity. "I was just standing there watching videos on my iPhone, not paying any attention to my surroundings, and a guy ran up and grabbed it out of my hand. Can you believe it? What's this country coming to?"

  • by mseeger (40923) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:34PM (#38385016)

    1. Eliminate risk: Don't leave anything in the car or leave your vicious dog in there...
    2. Mitigate risk: Encrypt drives, backup often, insure financial loss
    3. Security theater: Put everything in the trunk or leave it under the seat

    • by c++0xFF (1758032)

      4. Security by Obscurity: Put things where smash-and-grab thief won't think to look (such as with the spare tire in the trunk)
      5. Security by Poverty: Don't own anything worth stealing and drive a junky car that probably won't have anything of worth inside anyway
      6. Security by Deception: Put leave a case with a Compaq logo on it in a very visible spot, leave your car unlocked. Keep you laptop under the seat.

  • Remember... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhunachchicken (834243) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:37PM (#38385062) Homepage

    Most thieves are opportunists, and unless they've been watching you and really, really, REALLY want what you've got, then simply locking the car securely is your best bet.

    The other night, I was walking home (about 11:30pm, through East London), and there was a guy walking toward me. He was testing the door handles of each car he passed, until finally one opened. He took the stuff out that he found, throwing some of it away and pocketing whatever else it was he got.

    I stood staring at him as he did this, quite incredulous that he would do this right in front of me, and he just looked at me and said, "Well, should've locked their car, shouldn't they?" and walked off, carrying on.

    I didn't do anything because this was a very tall bloke, and was probably carrying a knife. I didn't call the police either, since, this being East London, he was no doubt part of a gang and knowing my luck I'd walk into him the following week.

    So, lock your car and don't keep anything of value on show. Thieves won't smash EVERY car they come to - only the ones they know they can get stuff out of.

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      My car got "broken" in to in my driveway a couple of weeks ago. I feel foolish because I don't normally leave my car unlocked but likely happened in just the way you suggest.

      They got everything of "value" alright! They missed my 300$ Eureka tent and my raybans and a few other goodies I could have fenced in less than 20 mins. As far as I can tell they took nothing just rifled through my car looking for an ipod or something. LOL. Suburbanites one mortgage payment away from robbing the local branch I su

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Most thieves are opportunists, and unless they've been watching you and really, really, REALLY want what you've got, then simply locking the car securely is your best bet.

      It depends where you are. For instance, where I live locking your car is probably fine. Where my sister lives, if it looks like you have something worth stealing in your car the difference between a locked car and an unlocked car is whether you also have a smashed window.

    • Re:Remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xacid (560407) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:05PM (#38386502) Journal

      I didn't do anything because this was a very tall bloke, and was probably carrying a knife. I didn't call the police either, since, this being East London, he was no doubt part of a gang and knowing my luck I'd walk into him the following week.

      I'm admittedly unfamiliar with London and it's culture but this irks the hell out of me. Maybe it's just the way of life there but here's a relevant movie quote:

      "And I am reminded, on this holy day, of the sad story of Kitty Genovese. As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men."

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @01:56PM (#38385328)

    Come on Slashdot, I expected the comments to be full of ingenious booby trap ideas. I like "metal laptop wired to battery," but how about some other ideas? The main problem I've run into is that any booby traps also need to be safe for the driver and passengers in the event of a crash -- this rules out explosives, cyanide gas, and acid. Here's five to start us off:

    1) Use some conductive glass to rig a circuit that will fill your whole car with spray foam insulation when a window is broken.
    2) Put a really obvious fake laptop next to a rolled-down window. Sharpen that window to a razor-sharp edge. Rig a laser detection circuit so that if anything passes through the window opening, it will roll up quickly and sever the offender's hand. Make sure that this is disabled automatically when friendlies are in the vehicle.
    3) Rig a circuit to spray pepper spray out of any windows that are shattered.
    4) Hide a GPS tracking device in all of your valuables which will automatically alert you if they start moving when they should be still. Carry a long-range, scoped rifle and sit near the window.
    5) Give your car a robust air-tight seal. Each time your car is parked, pressurize the inside so that if anyone breaks a window, the bits of glass will fly out into their face, disabling them and hopefully knocking them back several feet into oncoming traffic.

    Any other ideas?

  • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:05PM (#38385468)

    Back up your data so if your laptop does get stolen it's an inconvenience rather than irreplaceable loss.

    Make sure you always lock your car, so many people "jump out for just two minutes to buy something from a shop" and come back to find their car has been emptied. Always lock your car. This will put off opportunistic thieves who are looking for a quick easy target. How many of the break -ins were on unlocked rather than locked cars? If somebody has to break into your car, they might leave evidence, which means at least you might be able to claim on insurance.

    Thieves aren't going to sit in your car and try and open locked bags, they will just walk off with them and open them at their leisure elsewhere. So wire mesh laptop bags? these seem like a waste of time for this situation, unless you are also D-locking your bag to a steel mounting point in your car. Easy enough for thieves to get some wire cutters when they've got your bag back at their house and take their time opening it up.

    Mark your laptop so it can be traced.

    • Back up and encrypt your data. Then losing your laptop is just a monetary loss.

      To save the annoyance and cost of broken glass and a laptop, I always keep it in an inconspicuous (somewhat old and worn) non-laptop-looking backpack, and throw it in the trunk so it's completely out of sight. I don't leave other expensive stuff laying out in the open either... A big cup of change is just asking for it.

      The idea of the wire mesh bags is the cable lock prevents them from being easily carried away, and the mesh p

  • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:07PM (#38385508)
    I do photography on the side. That means laptop AND camera. First thing I do is use carrying cases and bags that don't advertise what they carry. My laptop bag looks like an army surplus hippie bag. My camera bag looks like a small backpack. If they are going to stay in the car, I make sure they are out of sight, usually in the trunk of my car. I don't make the mistake of parking my car THEN hiding my valuable, therefore advertising *where* to go to get the quick grab. I also drive a fairly common car that also isn't among the models that make the "top stolen" lists year to year. Not standing out in a parking lot has it's advantages. However, if you drive a vehicle that is largely labeled or *branded* (like BOB'S COMPUTER REPAIR or FRANK'S PHOTOGRAPHY), just ignore this and move to backups and insurance.

    Backups. Your laptop likely has data you can't live without. Backup your entire user folder, and any data outside of it. Remember how you had to keep reburning that mix CD you loved before you got your mp3 player? Don't be cheap, use external drives.

    Finally, Insurance. I'm still pricing mine out, but make sure that whatever you get covers theft wherever you are. PPA.com (for those based in the US) is an option I'm looking at as a photographer. It's a trade association that includes insurance in your dues, and covers a variety of situations that may not be covered by a regular policy. Also seems to offer quite a few resources for photographers (I am not yet a member).

    Prevent by keeping it out of sight, but insure with backups and an insurance policy.
  • by AugstWest (79042) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:12PM (#38385598)

    I drive a Jeep Wrangler, which is as secure as a tent. Basically, it IS a tent.

    So the passenger's side floor is pretty much always full of Dunkin Donuts trash. I slide my laptop bag under it all, throw a few empty coffee cups on top, and noone's going to think there's anything interesting to steal.

    Out-of-sight, out-of-mind works very well.

  • this isnt as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:14PM (#38385650) Homepage
    tech related a question as you hoped. If you really want to fix it you need to address inherent flaws in consumer capitalism, market driven sales, and social inequality.

    churches, children, whatever the hell a five minute window is, are not all universally shared and certified as morally sanctified places; in other words, thieves dont care. asking slaskdot what product we would consume in order to protect the products we consume is perpetuating the very same problem that causes the kinds of thefts you've outlined in the first place.
    the only reasonable solution is to buy a reasonably sized laptop that does what you need; perhaps something used on ebay. Bring the laptop where and when you think you will need it, and its dated appearance will likely serve the dual purpose of deterring thieves who want a very nice looking laptop, as well as preventing you from using it as a suburbanite status symbol. backup your data often so that if and when the laptop is stolen, a quick restore to another relatively inexpensive ebay laptop will solve the bulk of your problems.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:32PM (#38385902) Journal

    having been the victim of a smash and grab myself (stole my GPS unit when I parked in a small public lot and went into a Qdoba Grill for about 5 minutes to pick up a meal to go), I'd say one of the best things you can do is make it appear there's absolutely nothing in your car or truck.

    Most smash and grab thieves are looking through the windows of the vehicles they pass by for *anything* they think they might want to take and get a few dollars from. Spare coins sitting in an ashtray that's opened partially? Yep, enough reason to smash and grab! (They did it to my younger brother *3* times, stealing a total of about 79 cents, when he parked in his college's lot! If they even see a few pennies, they think maybe there's more than that in the tray they aren't seeing, and money's money.)

    So as other people said, keep things in your trunk or even in the glove-box or center console, or under the seat if that's doable ... anything to keep stuff from being on display through your windows. Very few of these people would bother smashing your window just to take a guess that maybe you have something good in your glovebox or under a seat. They'd rather walk on to the next car or truck where they can see something definite inside.)

    The exception to that rule is when someone watched you put something of value away in your vehicle. Years ago, I worked for a company that just purchased a new, high-end laptop for one of their salesmen. The day after I configured it for him and issued it to him, he went someplace to take a client to dinner and put the laptop, in its carrying bag, in the trunk of his car. Someone saw it, and when he got back, he found they had taken a crowbar to his trunk and pried it open to steal the machine. That's a different type of thief though, really.

    Of course, people keep saying "Don't ever LEAVE anything in your car! Take it with you!" .... but I know this isn't always practical or realistic. Sometimes, you put an item at more risk taking it with you than leaving it in the vehicle -- or you really don't have a good place to put the thing if you take it with you. In the summer, I've had times I didn't even have any pockets in the clothes I happened to be wearing, so just taking my car keys with me was enough of a hassle. That's why I'd go with the idea of just ensuring the stuff is concealed outside of plain view, and try to do so in an inconspicuous manner, just in case someone IS watching you.

    If, say, your only item(s) of value are locked in the trunk already, you might even want to just leave the windows rolled down or the car unlocked? I know a few people who do this regularly in high crime parts of town they live or work in, because all in all, replacing the broken window glass is more of a costly problem/risk than anything else. If the thief doesn't have your keys, they're not likely to steal the car itself unless they're enough of an expert that they were going to do it regardless of the doors being locked or windows being rolled up.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:45PM (#38386158)

    Seriously, all those great ideas about hiding places you've had? Like under the driver's seat or in the spare wheel well?

    You're not the first person to have those great ideas. In fact, you're probably about the 4,000,000th.

  • Act badass (Score:4, Interesting)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:05PM (#38388592) Homepage

    My solution is simple: I'm 5'11 and 330 lbs, and I look like a rocker/biker. I leave my laptop at the bar while I go take a piss, and sure enough, it's still there when I get back to my beer. If someone has the steel balls to grab it, I'll track them down via GPS/WiFi, apply various blunt objects to their vital organs, and burn their house down... with the lemons!

    Or you could just carry your laptop with you. That's what them fancy $20 tote bags with the straps and handles are for.

    When I was more of a road warrior (read: when I still had a valid driver's license), I bolted a steel cage under my seat, where I could slide in the laptop and lock it under key. Aside from keeping it out of sight, it also meant people who knew where to look would still have to break into the car without setting off the alarm, remove the seat and unbolt the cage from the floor. Or whip out the plasma cutter :P Even if I forgot to lock my door, that would slow them down enough that they'll either get caught, or move on to another target.

    I did catch a thief once, he was clawing at it with a wrench, so I took his wrench and beat him with it. That was the last time anyone ever tried to steal my shit.

    • I'm 5'10" and built like a slim gymnast who has let himself go. I weigh 220 lbs but sometimes I bloat a bit and my love handles need more love.

      I like long walks on the beach and jogging -- well, when you do it of course. I'll just enjoy a lemon spritzer and a steamed towel.

      What are the chances of getting you to chase me if I steal your mouse? How angry will you be -- because I plan to be naughty. /// OK, just kidding -- I couldn't help it because it sounded like you were filling out a personals column and G

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