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How Do I Prevent Lan Party Theft? 758

DragonTHC writes "I'm thinking about hosting a lan party open to the public. I'm aiming for approximately 60 people to attend. I can handle all the logistics of operation. The only thing I can't wrap my head around is: how do I prevent theft at the lan party? Do I hire security guards? Do I need security cameras? I don't know the people who will attend, and I don't know if they're trustworthy enough to not steal other people's equipment. What do I do?"
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How Do I Prevent Lan Party Theft?

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  • Insurance? (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:26PM (#24680431)

    Suppose somebody gets hurt? Are you ready to handle a big personal liability lawsuit?

    I would NOT do what you are describing.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:36PM (#24680623) Homepage Journal

      Solution: hold the party in your parent's basement.

    • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kiffer ( 206134 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:39PM (#24680709)

      Suppose somebody gets hurt? Are you ready to handle a big personal liability lawsuit?

      I would NOT do what you are describing.

      That's really disappointing ... I've seen this argument stop lots of events from happening...
      Public Liability insurance is not expensive for this sort of affair...
      if you hold the event in a hotel or other such place then most straight forward issues could be covered by the hotels insurance...

      Also, 20178 is pretty low... so your probably old enough to have actual assets worth suing over, where as students and younger people aren't as big a target.
      No assets, no point suing.

      • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:11PM (#24681359) Homepage Journal

        Wow. That's the first time I ever saw UID used as an estimator of age. That's pretty entertaining. I guess it's more of a lower bound, but still....

        • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:15PM (#24681447) Journal

          what were the dinosaurs REALLY like?

        • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:21PM (#24681579)

          It's not really accurate either. My Slashdot UID has been passed on for generations, and will continue to be passed on. I'm actually only 3 years old. Some families pass on the family name, we pass on the family Slashdot UID.

        • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:45PM (#24681959) Homepage

          Hah, It would be interesting to see how strong the age/uid correlation would be. I'm probably a hundred years old by slashdot standards.

          • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Slurpee ( 4012 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @08:16PM (#24683565) Homepage Journal

            Hah, It would be interesting to see how strong the age/uid correlation would be. I'm probably a hundred years old by slashdot standards.

            At a guess - you got an ID in the first week or so that Slashdot had them. Perhaps even the first day. This means you had access to the internet during the day. And had plenty of time. So - perhaps you were at Uni (college). Say 19 years old.

            add 10 years - at a guess - 29 years old now?

            Am I close?

            • Re:Insurance? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by MoreDruid ( 584251 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [diurderom]> on Thursday August 21, 2008 @04:40AM (#24686783) Homepage Journal
              actually, a lot of people didn't really start creating a user account right away. I know I didn't for at least half a year. Signing up for a website was a new thing, only a few sites and forums required it back then. IIRC /. even had the possibility to enter a handle/nickname next to having a real userid/nick combo. I lost the password to my old account but I know it was somewhere around the 10,000 mark. But your UID is low enough to remember this too :-)

              I sometimes wonder how many people are actually in my general neighborhood from that timeframe... it could be nice to meet those people and see what they do... I know /. and a lot of the "old-timers" motivated me to do what I do now: full time linux systems administration. Sometimes I really long for the old insightful discussions on kernel features in the latest build or some networking issue/technology that was really disseminated in the discussion, with some of the greatest minds (like one of the architects of the protocol/RFC/kernel feature discussed) joining in the conversation.

              Maybe it would be fun to have a Slashdot Archive topic, where special news items from ~5 years ago can be discussed again (with the old comments also available), so you can see how technology has progressed and how this may have been predicted in the comments.

      • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Informative)

        by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:45PM (#24681957)
        what the hell. Put in the signup sheet that they sign that they agree you're not liable for injury or theft. Then have one or two people dedicated to walking around making sure people don't get a little too loud and aggressive after like 3 Bawls and also so that nobody steals anything. Also remind everyone to watch their own stuff and not leave it unattented. All of those things are standard LAN party practices.
        • Re:Insurance? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by KGIII ( 973947 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:38PM (#24682605) Journal

          I think that liability insurance shouldn't be a deterrent but, AFAIK, those little 'anti-liability' sheets you sign never actually hold up in court. It is sort of like how having a "Beware of Dog" sign makes it more likely that you'll be successfully sued should your dog cause harm to someone. If you've put the sign out it means that you knew that the dog was a danger.

          IANAL though but giving out a generic form would likely lessen the chances of people actually believing they can sue should something untoward happen. I don't think that they mean much more than that in reality.

    • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:39PM (#24680717) Homepage

      Suppose somebody gets hurt? Are you ready to handle a big personal liability lawsuit?

      Oh please. If you're constantly worried about being sued you might as well just never get out of bed in the morning.

      The reality here is this is a LAN party, not a frat-boy keg party. The risks are low.

      If you're really concerned about it, most homeowners policies have a personal liability coverage in them.

      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:58PM (#24681111) Journal

        I don't think you ought to underestimate the dangers of *E*X*T*R*E*M*E* *F*R*A*G*G*I*N*G*!!!!

      • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:00PM (#24681139)

        Actually, the homeowner's policy will only cover liability on the property and I doubt they will host a 60 person LAN party in their house.

        What they would want is a PLUP - A personal liability umbrella policy. I got one for $1 million that costs under $80 a year. Plus it gave me a deduction on my car insurance.

      • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:09PM (#24681339) Journal

        The reality here is this is a LAN party, not a frat-boy keg party. The risks are low.

        All of the equipment blows one of the fuses in the OP's antiquated household wiring. Anxious to get back to playing Counter-Strike, one of the guests uses a penny in place of a fuse.

        Do not panic, I am a fire marshal!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 )
          ZOMG funniest thing I've ever read on here. only thing you left out was an awesome video link... Like this - []
        • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash @ p> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @07:22PM (#24683099) Homepage

          indeed if you are going to host a nontrivial sized lan party (more than about 10 participants) power arangements are going to be a big deal. If you allow 2A at 240V (4A at 120V) per participant and you have 60 participants that is 120A at 240V you need to find. A normal domestic service simply will not supply that. Depending on what power is availible at the venue you may need to hire a sizeable generator.

          and when you have found that you will need to work out how you are going to distribute it safely and effectively. And you need to pay particular attention to earthing arragements too as those PCs are going to have quite high eath leakage.

          If you are running a nontrivial sized lan party in a location that does not have fixed wiring intended for large numbers of PCs a local electrician who understands both event supplies and large computer installations.

          • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sierpinski ( 266120 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @11:21PM (#24685111)

            I have experienced exactly what the parent author was referring to. I was at a good friend's house a few years ago for a lan party, of maybe 14-16 people, each with a regular-sized tower PC, nothing out of the ordinary for gamers. It was the first time we'd had a lan party at this location (his house) so he didn't realize that all of the outlets in the living room, and half of the dining room were all on the same breaker. After the 7th person plugged in, flames and sparks started shooting out of the back of his power supply, marring the wall and destroying the PSU. Luckily he had a spare, so he replaced it, and tried to clean up the wall later, but eventually had to end up painting it. Also luckily, the highly flammable curtains were about 3-4 feet away, but had they been closer we might have had a major incident.

            To resolve the situation, we moved most of the people into the other half of the dining room so they were on a separate circuit, then everything was fine. It would have been impossible for us to have even 5 more people, let alone 40-50 more. There just wasn't enough juice in the house.

            I think that the first consideration, before theft (allbeit an important thing to consider) is whether or not the location you will be having this party can withstand the power requirements of all of your equipment.

            To combat theft, you can never prevent it completely, you might consider providing people with some kind of peel-resistant stickers (the kind that shred when you peel them off) that have some kind of number or letter code on them, and give that person the matching number ticket. (Kind of like a coat-check.) When they go to leave, you can scan their inventory to make sure they match.

            One other thing to consider is indemnification forms, where everyone who stays signs it, saying that you are not liable for injurys from power, red-bull overdosing, partying-in-general, etc, and definitely not responsible for theft.

            You might also consider charging people a nominal fee (or they can provide their own) for the purchase of a security cable set, something they can lock their PC and monitor down. Hopefully nobody's going to risk exposure for the theft of a keyboard or mouse or whatever.

            The other thing is that if you're going to have a ton of people that you don't know, I'd strongly recommend getting copies of drivers licenses or something, so that you know who all was there and have some type of legal proof of it, if the police or authorities should be involved.

            There are tons of things to consider, but covering your arse (CYA) should be the first priority on your list, because there's nothing worse than trying to throw a great party for others, only to be sued by several of them because some asshole ripped off their equipment, and since nobody knew who it was, they want to get the money out of you instead.

            Hope that helps.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:16PM (#24681459)

        Oh please. If you're constantly worried about being sued you might as well just never get out of bed in the morning.

        precisely why i don't get out of bed until well into the afternoon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SuperQ ( 431 ) *

        Exactly, when I used to host lan parties we had groups ranging from 20 people to 150 people. Theft was never a huge issue. Most people come with a group of 2-3 friends (larger if they're in clans) and simply "watch each others stuff". For larger parties, you might want to deal with the event staff at a hotel or something, they know a lot about taking care of that stuff.

        The big deal is power, for the larger parties we had to find a hotel or other event room with 3 phase power distribution (200+ amps) to h

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:27PM (#24682475) Journal

        This is honestly the first time I've ever heard these things mentioned when it comes to organizing LAN parties.

        The purely logical side of me wants to say, "Hey, yeah... nice advance planning. I never even considered the idea of maybe looking at insurance for such an event."

        But the practical side of me? It thinks "WTF is wrong with people today?!?" I've been to a number of LAN parties hosted at people's homes, and even hosted a couple myself. Everyone I've ever met at them was MORE courteous and considerate than average. The closest thing to a "theft" I ever saw was a situation where someone accidentally picked up and packed up another person's Ethernet cable. I think that got sorted out when another individual offered to just give the guy one of his to keep, for free, since he had plenty of them at home anyway.

        The way I see things, sure ... ANY time you have some sort of party or get-together involving multiple people, you have a "non zero" risk of something bad happening. Maybe someone will fall down a flight of stairs and break an arm? Maybe they'll plug a defective network card or cable into your gigabit switch and fry the thing? But like the parent post says, you can't even get out of bed in the morning and do anything useful if you're scared of everything.

        Ultimately, I'd feel FAR safer around a bunch of avid computer gamers willing to drag their expensive computer gear over to my house than the random mix of individuals drinking at the corner bar. (You have to remember, they're all taking a certain amount of risk coming to some "stranger's house" with their equipment in tow, too. The host isn't the only one putting himself out there.)

      • by aplusjimages ( 939458 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:51PM (#24682761) Journal
        Dude you should have seen the last Rockband party we had. The guys house burnt down and I ended up with hepatitis c. But we unlocked that Gold Artist achievement.
    • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:46PM (#24680849)

      Suppose somebody gets hurt? Are you ready to handle a big personal liability lawsuit?

      I would NOT do what you are describing.

      Not even trying to be funny but honestly, in no other country than USA would this be among the first things people think. I can't imagine that anyone in Finland would ever sue some organizer if they get hurt... Aside from it being clearly organizer's fault, such as letting toxic gas (not just farts) into the room. I mean... what? How do people even hurt themselves in lan parties?

      I'm not saying the parent didn't have a valid point. If this is in USA and people really do raise law suits as easily as the rest of the world claims they do... Sure, get some sort of insurance.

      But to thieving issue... Just tell people "Hey, if you have no friend here to watch your belongings and can't keep them safe yourself when sleeping, etc., you can leave the small valuables to me for a receipt.

      Can't imagine this being an issue, though. I've been on countless lan parties from a dozen people to five thousand people (Assembly 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008), often without knowing anyone and always leaving laptops and often more (still packaged graphics cards, etc.) and such on the tables. Nobody has ever stolen anything from me nor have I heard that anyone else has lost anything in any of the events I've been in...

      Have some trust in people. I know some would say "Yeah, you'll regret that trust when someone demands you two grands for that equipment someone stole from him" but seriously, guys:

      If you can't have enough faith in humanity to throw a lan party because you fear for all the items that could be stolen, accidents that could happen, insurances, law suits... Your attitude to life sucks.

      • Re:Insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:20PM (#24681553)
        If you can't have enough faith in humanity to throw a lan party because you fear for all the items that could be stolen, accidents that could happen, insurances, law suits... Your attitude to life sucks.

        Either that or you've had enough experience to not have faith in humanity...

        For instance, my car was recently rear-ended by a woman in an SUV in some heavy traffic while I was stopped. There was a chain reaction and I hit the car in front of me. The woman agreed that all damage was her fault so I decided that we could let the police report slide as no one was injured. That was all good and well until 8:30 the next morning when her insurance company had called me to tell me that she claimed I had hit the car in front of me prior to her hitting me. Granted, if you could see pictures of the damage to the front of my car you'd realize quickly that there is no way she could have seen the damage to the front end of my car. But now me and my insurance company are taking it to court. I think we have a solid case but still the paper work alone makes it worth the time to cover your ass. And if I do lose the case? My insurance company is going to be eating a bill they shouldn't have and I'm going to be out of my deductible.

        Faith in your fellow human is fantastic until some fucktard comes along and shows you that, yes Virgina, there are pricks in this world. And to think that this is a simple auto accident. Had there been an injury? God only knows what I'd be putting up with right now.
      • Re:Insurance? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:23PM (#24681607)

        If you can't have enough faith in humanity to throw a lan party because you fear for all the items that could be stolen, accidents that could happen, insurances, law suits... Your attitude to life sucks.

        I guess its pre-emptive pessimism (new word?), because your attitude in life doesn't currently suck, if somebody steal a $2000 system your attitude WILL suck.

        But I personally find that outlook on life better: Go to a party expecting it to suck, when you are surprised and happy with the entertainment. You got more than you expected and a nice surprise. Expect a present to have coal in it, now you can be appreciative and happy when its a new video card for your PC. Didn't get what you want? So what, you knew it was gonna suck right, you can't be unhappy.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:28PM (#24681719)

        Wishful thinking doesn't solve real problems. His "attitude to life" isn't what will prevent theft or defend against lawsuits. His attitude didn't create thieves or lawyers, why would changing his attitude make them disappear? It's not his fault the US is filled with lawyers and thieves.

        That goes for both the LAN guy and the commenter guy.

        In the US, you need to protect yourself from lawyers and thieves. No one else will do it for you and the lawyers and thieves protect each other.

      • by Dmala ( 752610 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:37PM (#24681847)
        How do people even hurt themselves in lan parties?

        Have you *seen* some of the cooling systems on these custom rigs? You could easily get sucked into a CPU fan.
    • Re:Insurance? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JustKidding ( 591117 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:55PM (#24681033)

      It sort of depends on where he lives.

      Some people here actually don't live in the I'll-sue-your-pants-off US of A.

  • by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:26PM (#24680435) Journal

    Delegate "security" to a dozen or so people you do know.

  • by DragonPup ( 302885 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:26PM (#24680437)

    ...stating you are not responsible for lost/stolen/damaged equipment.

    • by Blorgo ( 19032 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:32PM (#24680559) Homepage

      Also have all equip signed in/out, that's all - nothing leaves without a cross-check to make sure it was checked in by the same guy. If you make it look like you are expecting theft, people will steal. If you put everyone on notice that you have an honor system and this signin is just to prevent mixups for identical-looking equipment, you'll have happier party-goers.

      The disclaimer should be nothing too onerous, but with plenty of disclaimers - "YOU agree that YOU are responsible for everything that happens to YOUR equipment while it's here, including theft, spillage, power surges, lightning strikes, or other acts of man or God."

  • by gentimjs ( 930934 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:26PM (#24680439) Journal
    Hire a security guard, but if you want to intimidate lanparty geeks you need to have him dressed up as Arthas or something. Make sure the "steel is real" when selecting a weapon to go with the costume, geeks can tell 440stainless vs polished aluminum a mile away.
  • Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antirelic ( 1030688 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:27PM (#24680461) Journal

    Your better off not trying to do anything to secure anything short of your own equipment. Just post a sign at the door that states that there is "no security" and that every individual is completely responsible for their own property.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I regularly run LAN parties at my school and very few things ever go missing. I might come home from one short a network cable, but its not a big deal to me. I wouldn't worry too much about pricey things unless your supplying it. Its kinda obvious if someone is walking away with 2 monitors when they came in with one. People will generally look after their own possessions. What i would worry about is the venue. If you leave a big mess after, you're responsible for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mxs ( 42717 )

        I regularly run LAN parties at my school and very few things ever go missing. I might come home from one short a network cable, but its not a big deal to me. I wouldn't worry too much about pricey things unless your supplying it. Its kinda obvious if someone is walking away with 2 monitors when they came in with one.

        No, it's really not. Not with the stuff people bring to lanparties ... Multiple machines sometimes, and crazy amounts of gear. A guy with 2 monitors is seen often enough, and a guy with 2 monitors on a cart is seen a lot to -- carrying stuff out for their friends/clans. Legitimately.

        People will generally look after their own possessions. What i would worry about is the venue. If you leave a big mess after, you're responsible for it.

        That's a given. With larger lanparties, plan at least one day of cleanup. With really large lanparties, at least two.

  • by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:29PM (#24680499)

    Stick one of those on the network, and people will be too busy downloading that to bother about stealing stuff.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:30PM (#24680519) Homepage Journal

    Post signs saying you will record video. And do it (assuming you have a large rectangular space, 4 cameras to get a 360 degree view should be easy to set up, and relatively cheap). Record video capturing the face and ID of each person attending, at a bottlenecked entrance. If you have a venue with a parking lot, notify everyone that there will be videotaping of the parking lot, and again, do it. If you have the budget, hire a professional to do the ID checking. This should pretty much make any theft a non issue to prosecute. Be sure to post a disclaimer that you're not responsible for items lost/stolen though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rtechie ( 244489 ) *

      Mod parent up.

      This is the best, cheapest solution. Photocopying the IDs would also be a good idea. The fear of video surveillance will deter most thieves.

      However, you might not to run these on a very regular basis, especially if they're in a relatively remote location. There is a non-trivial chance that a bunch of guys with guns could show up and take everything (including your surveillance equipment). If, based on your location, you think the cops would show up in 5 minutes with a 911 call you're okay.


  • Theft happens. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:31PM (#24680535)

    Businesses have an accounting factor called "inventory shrinkage" which really just amounts to "theft". People will steal from time to time, not many actually do it, but some do, and so thefts will happen. You can increase security to discourage it, but you can never make a full guarantee.

    Thus, you can increase security in practical ways, but eventually increasing security stops being practical and can even fail to increase actual security. After that, resign to the fact that theft happens. You may increase ticket prices to compensate for the expected loss of a router or two. If it doesn't happen, consider it a credit to the next lan party's theft compensation.

  • Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:31PM (#24680545)
    Just place machine gun nests at strategic locations and make sure to have plenty of dogs, preferably Rottweilers.

    Seriously though, this does this question have anything to do with technology? Do the same things as you do when you throw a regular party, i.e. trust people who come not to steal stuff and to keep track of their own stuff. Or ask couple of friends to keep an eye on things if you are really paranoid
  • DRM (Score:5, Funny)

    by CyberVenom ( 697959 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:34PM (#24680601)
    Everyone knows that DRM is really the only answer for preventing theft in today's high-tech society.
  • by Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:34PM (#24680603)

    Find an internet cafe' and see if you can rent it out. Most cafe's will let you for a fee.

    Have everyone pitch in a few bucks and you should be fine.

    Theres a place that lets you do that here in Dallas.

  • by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:46PM (#24680859)
    - You should hire the Hells Angels and pay them with beer. Make sure you announce it nationwide and let everyone know that event is free. Then you let someone film a doc about it. Oh, and make sure you have everyone stand out in the hot sun all afternoon before it kicks off. And don't forget to make it easy for everyone to have easy access to drugs an alcohol.
  • by mxs ( 42717 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:54PM (#24681005)

    Having organized parties as large as 2000 people, there is one thing that will pretty much be true with a party of every size : You cannot possibly guarantee that there won't be any theft at all and maintain a decent party atmosphere (let alone keep inside the budget).

    You should, under no circumstances, assume liability over your guests' equipment. They need to know they are responsible for their own stuff, and that you will not be held accountable if somebody steals it. If they cannot watch their equipment for the duration of the party, then that is not your fault.
    You can, of course, offer a "lockbox"-service -- i.e. offer to keep their hardware secured in a cage or some such which is guarded 24/7; This is pretty much the same model as wardrobe at theaters. You take their bags/hardware, issue them a ticket, and do not release the bags/hardware without that ticket. Make sure you inform yourself on what liability you are taking on (if any), possibly restrict it to a maximum value, and consider insuring yourself against theft thereof. If you do this, make absolutely sure that the station is manned 24/7 (we usually do this near the reception area). Think about policies and procedures for when somebody loses their ticket (they will.)

    If you provide the network/power infrastructure (and you usually do), think a bit about how to secure it. If you rent your equipment, inquire about theft insurance. It may well be worth it, depending on what your equipment costs. The most probable time switches, routers, etc. get stolen is when everybody is packing up (at the end of the party) -- it's chaos at that point. Keep an eye on your stuff. We usually devise a monitoring system; if your switches are managed, you can keep pinging them once a second from a central station. If they don't reply two or more times, an alarm goes off (loud, obnoxious, flashy alarm, with the equipment name, number and mapped location on the screen, in red). Make sure you have people in place who can follow up on that stuff, fast. If there is only one exit, it may be easier to check for your "bigger" stuff; smaller stuff is easy to hide in bags, and searching bags is not only really, really timeconsuming, but also kills party atmosphere, potentially lands you in legal hot waters, etc.

    Do not assume that people will leave via the designated exit/entrance area. You will most likely HAVE to have a secondary fire exit (or more, depending on the size of the venue). These cannot be blocked or barred. When people leave at the end, they may also use these. Equipment near there is rather high risk. Have people there.

    Security "guards" (i.e. guys hired for that specific purpose) are nice for FEELING secure, but they don't actually do much. LAN-party goers don't usually end up in fistfights, and you don't want guards roughing up your guests. It doesn't, of course, hurt when some of your organizing team (you do have a team, right ?) look impressive in person :>

    Security cameras don't usually have high resolutions and are easily avoided. You can make pretty nifty time-compressions of them though for the after-party videos.

    If you want, you can devise a ticketing/sticker system for high-value items of your guests ... I.e. when they check in, give them 3-4 stickers for their equipment and a token to be kept secure (an armband, a badge, that sort of stuff). They affix their stickers to their equipment, and on checkout, you check the stickers against the badge. If you go this road, do keep an eye on speed. Wireless handheld barcode scanners can help. If this process is too slow, your team and your guests will grow frustrated at checkout and eventually not bother with it anymore.

    You mention that you do not know the people who are coming. Do you also not know who is coming ? If not, make it a requirement to sign up on your website. Throw in some nifty stuff for that (seat selection, etc.), and people will do it. That way at least you'll have some personal information to identify people with.

  • by mypalmike ( 454265 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:58PM (#24681085) Homepage

    I've been to dozens of LAN parties, and I've never lost any equipment. In fact, I usually end up leaving with more equipment than I came with.

  • LAN Party Theft (Score:5, Informative)

    by lionchild ( 581331 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:02PM (#24681179) Journal

    Speaking as someone whose worked with folks who host a 120+ person LAN party every 6 weeks, there are really only 2 ways to prevent it:

    1.) Only invite folks whom you know and trust.
    2.) Don't have a LAN party.

    But, beyond that, try to organize your folks who are coming into groups who know each other, or can at least work cooperatively outside what's going on in the LAN. That is, if you have groups of folks who know one another, then while some are napping or off getting refreshments, someone they knowand trust is there to guard their loot. That's about the most straightforward way, because you won't know everyone, but hopefully everyone there will know a few other folks. And if they don't, maybe you can create some new groups of friends.

    More than that, you DO need to have some sort of hold harmless paperwork that everyone agrees and signs, so you're not left with the liability issue. I mean, let's say no one steals anything, no one hurts themselves, what if someone innocently brings in a virus or malware or keylogger that gets spread through the LAN. Sometimes, CYA is the only way to do things.

    Just my $0.02. Good luck, either way!

  • by Domini ( 103836 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:35PM (#24681815) Journal

    Arrange seating so that small groups are seated together... this way they can watch each others' rigs. They can get to know one another and identify strangers.

    Have all Computers face inward, with only a single accessible entrance for each group from behind.

    Less points of entry, means less points to watch.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:43PM (#24681929) Homepage Journal

    Stamp everyones hands, and compare it to what they take out.

    Oh, and armed guards for those that try.. A few dead bodies on a stake out front will be a grand deterrent.

  • Defensive Thinking (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:19PM (#24682375) Homepage Journal

    If this will be your first LAN party, go smaller. Get a feel for the check-in dynamics and such. Then grow.

    If you've got a few smaller ones under your belt, and you want to go big, read on.

    First, indemnify, indemnify, indemnify. Require all attendees to sign a waiver which says they will not hold you accountable for any equipment harm or theft or any personal harm or theft. Ensure that each person knows that they are responsible for their own equipment and actions, and can leave at any time.

    Second, if you're asking for money, clarify the refund procedure. I suggest establishing a no-refund policy, then bending that policy on a case-by-case basis.

    Third, hold the LAN in a secure, very public location. I recommend a church or community center for a 60-man LAN, then a firehall once you break 100.

    Fourth, establish clearly defined, binding rules which outline attendees' expected behavior. I recommend taking a look at the rules contained in the Pittco information sheet [], published by the Pittsburgh LAN Coalition (disclaimer: I wrote it and am an organizer of its Iron Storm [] events).

    Fifth, tell every attendee that security is their responsibility when they sign up and when they arrive. Advise them to bring as little equipment as they can. They should consider locks (barrels, the more numbers the better) for their case and they should put their name on everything. They should also backup their data before coming to the LAN.

    Sixth, if someone comes to you and says they think that something has been stolen, ask them to ask the people around them if they've seen it. Some people immediately think that something has been stolen when perhaps it is underneath something or fell onto the floor. If a lot of people have left the party and/or it's near the end of the party, tell the person to post a lost and found request on your forums (you do have forums, right?) and to remind you so that you can send something in a mass email (you have all of the addresses of your attendees, right?).

    Seventh, remember that most people who come to LANs aren't going to want to steal anything because they're going to be busy guarding their own equipment. Do not allow spectators. If you must, require that they be escorted, or that they check-in with you every so often. Also, use wristbands to keep track of who checked-in. If someone doesn't have a wristband or a staff T-shirt (consider that after an event or two), you have every right to tell them to leave. Call the cops if you have to. Just do not use force—you are not certified or licensed to do such things in public places and you will open yourself to legal trouble.

    Eighth, post this question at forums for MillionManLAN, EverLAN, Lake Effect LAN, Pittco, Noreaster, and some of the other larger, non-corporate-sponsored LANs. They'll give you good advice, and you'll even draw some people to your event!

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll