A computer stolen in March last year from a techie was retrieved on Thursday after the device’s owner helped the police track the machine using a security programme

Software, systematic surveillance and sleek sleuthing led to the recovery of a stolen laptop on Thursday, 10 months after the theft had occurred.

In March 2012, Towfeeque Aalam (30), a project manager at security solutions provider K7 Computing in Kottivakkam, was heading to work from his residence in Mylapore. “I was wearing my backpack which had the laptop, a MacBook, and I was riding my motorcycle to work. When I reached my workplace, I realised my laptop was missing. I lodged a complaint with the Mylapore police the same night and received an FIR,” Aalam told The Hindu .

However, there was no development in the case until November 2012.

But Aalam, who had installed an anti-theft software in his laptop, kept track of it. The software, ‘Prey’, specifically designed to help trace stolen devices, sends photographs taken from the laptop’s web camera as well as screen shots of websites surfed, when the thief begins using the device.

The software which is compatible for laptops, smart phones and other electronic devices operates in such a way that when the thief goes online using the stolen laptop, the user receives regular alerts which include information on wifi points near the user.

Prey proved fruitful for Aalam in mid-December 2012, when he received his first report regarding to the location of the laptop. “From then on, I started receiving frequent reports including web cam shots of the user, his Facebook screenshots and his IP address,” Aalam added. Aalam immediately approached the office of the commissioner of police in Egmore, and lodged a complaint once again about his missing laptop, this time with detailed evidence including the location of the laptop and the user’s photographs.

The case was then taken up by the cyber crime wing of the central crime branch (CCB), who managed to retrieve the laptop quite easily on Thursday afternoon, and handed it over to Aalam the same evening.

“It was an easy task for us to retrieve the laptop as the complainant provided us with all the necessary clues. The case was learning experience for us,” said an investigating officer with the CCB.

The data on Aalam’s laptop is intact, as the user had accessed the device using the guest login option. However, the device had suffered immense physical damage, the police added.

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