Laptops and mobile phones have replaced the family dog as “man’s best friend”.
But theft of these and related personal devices has also increased dramatically. Zimbabwe’s high unemployment rate and economic woes are contributing to the sharp increase in theft of these devices, which have become targets for thieves.
They’re small, valuable, easy to hide, and have a good market. A thief can sell a stolen laptop or other device to second-hand dealers and get back up to half the value in cash. Criminals know that the penalties for stealing these devices are small.
Facts you need to know
There is a one in ten chance of a laptop and mobile device being stolen.
Almost half of all laptop and mobile device thefts occur in offices or classrooms.
98% of stolen laptops are never recovered.
Laptops are more prone to security issues than desktop workstations.
The cost of a stolen tablet or laptop is not just the replacement cost, it also includes the cost of peripherals and accessories such as software. An even greater cost is the potential exposure and liability that results from the loss of confidential corporate and customer information for businesses.
How can you reduce the risk?
Often we think about what we could have done to prevent the theft of valuables. Here are a few tips to help protect your personal electronic devices and laptops:
Don’t get into informal taxis if you have your laptop or electronic mobile device with you. you get robbed
Do not leave your devices locked or unlocked in the vehicle.
If you must leave your devices in the vehicle, the trunk is the best place. If you don’t have a trunk, try hiding it or tucking it under a seat and locking the doors. My personal advice is to just not leave them in the vehicle.
Do not drive or travel with your laptop or mobile device visible in the passenger seat. Whether the windows are closed or open, thieves will steal them.
Especially in our inner cities, carry your devices in an unobtrusive tote, briefcase or bag when you’re on the go. Placing these items in a case designed for computers will give thieves an instant alert. In short: throw away the laptop bag.
Never leave a meeting or conference room without your laptop or personal electronic devices, take them with you.
Lock your device in a safe place when not in use, or use a cable lock that wraps around a desk or chair leg.
Apply distinctive color markings (e.g. indelible markers) to make your laptop unique and easily identifiable.
Consider purchasing an anti-theft device designed specifically for laptops and other electronic devices. Also consider wireless two-way security alarms for laptops. When the alarm detects motion, it first checks if you are nearby. If not, your keychain remote will be notified. The alarm can also be set to only go off when motion is detected.
Off-the-shelf software can also provide a way to protect your devices from intruders and prevent thieves from getting your personal information. Most mobile devices have the ability to remotely “wipe” the phone or tablet data in case your device is lost or stolen.
Always use a password to protect your portable device from unauthorized use.
In the event of a theft, report it immediately to the nearest police station. Device owners should have the make, model, and serial number ready so the police can file a full report and immediately collect information about the stolen electronic device.
If your phone is believed to be still active, police may ask you not to cancel your service immediately to help the investigation.
Those traveling should beware of a theft operation that is carried out when approaching the X-ray scanner at the airport: the first person quickly goes through the scanner. The second person moves slowly, being held up by pockets full of keys and other items. Meanwhile, the travelers stuck behind him have already placed their belongings – including laptops, cellphones and tablets – onto the conveyor belt.
The first thief takes the laptop and/or your electronic mobile devices as if they were their own and walks away while the other thief continues to hold the line.
To prevent this type of theft, do not place your laptop or mobile device on the conveyor until it is your next turn and keep an eye on your laptop, tablet or other electronic device as it comes off the conveyor. Notify security personnel immediately if you suspect someone is attempting to steal your devices.
It is your duty to secure and protect your electronic devices.
Be a wise traveler and protect your belongings.
Mutisi is CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd. He is currently Chairman of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers
Share this article on social networks