Most Laptop Thefts Take Place At Home

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

New research has shown that more laptops get stolen from homes than anywhere else, including airports and public transportation

New research has found that the place where laptops are most likely to be stolen is not at airports or on the train, but rather in people’s own homes.

The news that British homes are a hotspot for laptop theft is based on an online study from laptop security company, Absolute Software, which was carried out in association with YouGov. Indeed, the number of laptops stolen from British homes is significantly higher than in other countries. British homes are the most dangerous locations for laptops (32 percent of most recent laptop thefts), compared to France (22 percent), the US (18 percent), Germany (17 percent) and Canada (17 percent).

“This research will surprise some laptop owners, who often only think about security issues when they are on the move,” said Dave Everitt, General Manager, at Absolute Software. “However, with nearly a third of all laptop thefts in Britain occurring at a residential property, owners need to be extra cautious when leaving devices home alone.”

One of the most notorious laptop thefts of recent times took place in December, when a man was killed after being shot during a robbery in Manchester for the laptop and cash he was carrying.

Yet it seems that besides the home and maybe certain streets in Manchester, there are a few other locations to be wary of. In the UK, thefts from cars accounted for 24 percent of laptop thefts, with public transport coming in third place at 8 percent. Coffee shops and airports, locations often associated with laptop use, accounted for a comparatively low percentage – just 2 percent each.

“There is a range of security measures that laptop owners can take, from simply locking their laptop in a secure location to installing software that enables personal files to be remotely deleted, tracked and even recovered,” said Everitt. “With the amount of sensitive information now being stored on laptops and subsequent identity theft, personal security can not be compromised.”

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Last year Manchester City Council were found in breach of the Data Protection Act after two unencrypted laptops were stolen from the town hall – one of which contained the details of 1,754 employees.

Meanwhile the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) has warned that businesses which do not own up to data breaches will face tougher action than those that come forward of their own volition. The ICO was earlier given the power to issue large fines for any serious data breaches.

Absolute Software are no strangers to this field. Indeed, last month they added Intel technology to its anti-theft software, which could at the touch of a button turn a stolen laptop into a non-bootable ‘brick’.

Others, such as Lenovo, have launched its Lost & Found service, which might more accurately be thought of as “return or find.” The free service, announced last October, was designed to complement Lenovo’s paid, subscription-based service, both of which are focused on retrieving lost or stolen devices.