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Think Twice Before Breaking Into A Tech Chicks House

I have been MIA for a few days, not by my doing. On Wednesday my house was broken into. Let me tell you the story.

My oldest 2 kids came home from school, but only Kevin ran the house for a moment to grab something so they could go and pick up Leandra who attends a different high school. When he got back to the car, he told Lakendra that someone took the TV off the wall in the living room. She said “Mom probably did it.” Then he said, but the furniture was moved around, she again said “Mom must have done that during lunch.” They then left and came back home around 4 pm.

I was at work and away from my desk. Someone brought me my phone which was frantically ringing over and over again. I answered it to a screaming 17 yr old daughter. All I heard was “burglarized” and “they took your laptop”. I took off running out of there.

Luckily, I live 3 min from my day job. I called a friend at the police department, and told her about my daughters call on the way home, she asked if I had called the police. I told her, wasn’t she the police? She told me to call 911. I got home to see my 52″ Samsung plasma TV gone from its wall mount with holes in the wall. Then I glanced at the sofa to see my beloved Toshiba laptop gone from where I left it in the morning. I called 911 to have the police on the way.

My kids were a bit scared, thinking the thieves were still in the house. I walked thru the house to see what they had taken. First, we noticed they had dropped the TV on the floor at the back door. See this plasma TV is a big heavy one. It was mounted to the studs, as you are supposed to mount a TV bracket to studs so it does not fall off the wall. But the TV its self weighs at least 150lbs, and because it is flat screen, it is extremely hard for someone to pick up by themselves. I am assuming that the thieves found out how heavy it was after they finally beat it off the wall with a hammer, they knew they would not be able to carry it over the 7ft fence I have in the back yard, so they dropped it breaking part of my floor and left it there.

Instead, they took smaller items which were my Toshiba laptop and my HP Touchpad I had just won from Brads Deals at BlogHer. I also noticed they had rummaged thru mine and my husband’s closets a bit, and underneath my bed, where they were able to find the hammer that they used to knock holes in the wall when trying to remove the bracket to the TV. But that is all they took.

I am a tech blogger and have tons of gadgets all over the house. Many of the items are still in boxes and packages that I have not even reviewed yet. None of that was touched. My kids’ rooms were also untouched. My daughter had my Acer Aspire Happy One netbook lying on her bed, and several other items, the boys have game systems and a desktop in their room that were untouched. Because so much was untouched, I believed that the thieves were scared off when my oldest 2 kids arrived home from school.

I was so upset they took my laptop. As a blogger, everything is on my laptop. I have $100′s if not $1000′s of dollars of programs installed. Plus everything I could ever think of stored on the laptop. This computer is one that does not really leave the house so there was no password. I could have slapped myself for not setting one up.

I am aware of programs that I could have installed to protect my laptop, but had never installed them on that computer. I had only received the Toshiba laptop in March thru a campaign with Glam Media from Microsoft and Staples. I just had not done what a good Tech Chick should have done in terms of security.

As I logged into Skype to chat with my other tech girls on my sons’ desktop, I remembered I had Team Viewer installed on my computer. I installed the remote access program to be able to access my desktop from my iPad on the go. I had been meaning to remove it from my startup for a while, but been too lazy to do it. I think my laziness saved me. Since my son had Team Viewer installed on his computer for use when playing WOW, I logged into my account from his computer. I wanted to see if my stolen laptop was online so I could log into it. The culprit was not online. I made a plan to remotely activate the webcam as soon as he came online.

I took my iPad in the living room with me to sit and wait for the computer to go online. Finally, it happened, my computer was connected and I could access it. My daughters told me to just watch him because “kids always log into their Facebook”. I did just that. As I watched him downloading music and porn at a very fast speed I was able to notice a few things.

  1. He was using Google Chrome, which one of my Google accounts was still logged into.
  2. He had closed none of my programs including my graphics editing program and Skype where I had an ongoing conversation.
  3. He typed and downloaded very fast, which let me know he was on a HSD internet connection.
  4. He was not connected WIFI. He had plugged into the modem directly with a CAT5 cable.
  5. He did not notice the small box at the bottom right of the screen that showed I was logged in watching him.

The first step I took was to reboot the computer remotely from Team Viewer to log him out of my accounts. When the computer came back up and online, he continued to download music files.

I just wanted him to stop for a bit and walk away from the computer so I could activate the web cam. But that did not look like it was happening. I knew since he was not connected WIFI I could somehow get his IP address and it would be the direct IP address issued by the ISP, not the one that a WIFI router would assign each device connected. My only problem was I had no idea how I would get this information. I searched and searched the settings, but no luck.

I called up another Tech Chick, Kris Cain from Little Tech Girl. Two tech chicks are better than one. She had seen me tweeting and had also been on the Skype chat with me that I had to close on the stolen laptop.

I explained what Team Viewer was to Kris and what I was trying to do. She took a look at the web version with me and we both only found remote IP addresses. I tried to tweet @TeamViewer, but they never responded. In fact, to this day they still haven’t responded. Since I was now on my small netbook that I am not familiar with using, Kris decided to download the Team Viewer client to see if there were more features. She was able to find the actual IP address.

When I searched the IP I found it was actually an IP address in my same zip code belonging to Road Runner. I knew the police could track more information with the IP address and was going to stop monitoring then. But we continued to watch, taking my girls advice, just knowing they would login to Facebook or something.

Then it happened, he logged into his YouTube account. We had his email address showing big as day in the right hand corner of the webpage. Kris looked it up and originally came to the conclusion his username was the same as a movie. I told her I think you can look people up in Facebook with the email address. She plugged the email address into Facebook and his profile popped up. We had a name and his location was local.

We then did Google searches with his name. Kris searched his name and zip code in the white pages and found his home phone number and address, which were only a few blocks from my house. Then I searched Google Maps and got a picture of his house.

At this point I was able to call the police back out and give them the information as to who had my stolen laptop. It was 3am and with the help of another tech chick, we were able to get a lead in less than 12 hours. There was not much the police could do at this point because the case had not even been assigned to a detective yet, so I had to wait until the morning.

Read part II to see how the thieves were caught.

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Jessica Benton (1375 Posts)

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog post. It means the world to me. I hope you will join in the conversation and leave a comment below.


Comments

  1. says

    This also hits very close to home. I went to my building outside my house the other day and noticed that the door that was normally padlocked was now…not. The only thing I noticed that was missing was my prized Echo Trimmer. Lawn mower and everything was still there. Luckily for you you could track down using tech. No way to track a trimmer unless I start looking for who has really great looking edging. Great job Tech Chick!

  2. debbie Jackson says

    Amazing! If you had just reported it stolen it would probably be gone for good. Great detective work!

  3. Retail therapy says

    Wow, how exciting. Cannot wait to find out what happens next. So sorry that happened to you but great that you got him!!!!

  4. says

    OMG – I love hearing about things like this! I am so excited to read the second part! But you have reminded me to get my butt in gear and add some security.

    BTW – I think we have the same Toshiba. Does yours have face recognition? Mind does, but I have never bothered to figure out how to use it. It might be better that you weren’t using it though, otherwise he might have just given up and chucked it in the garbage!