How To Get Your Mac Back When The TSA Steals It From You

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On a vacation with his wife and kids recently, Paul Deas opened his suitcase and found a rude surprise: his MacBook had been stolen. Not only that, but the thief had helpfully left him a note inside, telling him exactly who had robbed him: TSA Agent 5414.

Paul eventually got his MacBook back, but his post on the matter is interesting food for thought, not only because it reveals just how common TSA theft is (there’s millions of Google results for “TSA Theft”) but how, even if you get your MacBook back, you’re not likely to catch the person who actually stole it.

In Paul’s case, when he discovered his MacBook had been stolen, he used Find My Mac to locate it and lock the laptop down. He then went to his local UPS location to mail an empty box to the address where the MacBook had been tracked to, a few miles from the airport where it had been stolen. Inside the box was a message, “Return my laptop or we’ll call the police.”

Paul got the laptop back eventually, but it’s a typical story: the guy who returned the laptop had actually bought it from someone on Craigslist, who promptly disappeared when the Mac locked down. So while Paul got his laptop back, the guy who purchased it was out $650.

As for the TSA Agent? Turns out “5414” was just a bunch of random numbers, and there’s no telling, apparently, who actually inspected Paul’s case… and therefore, no telling who stole his laptop.

There’s a lot of clear warnings here. Don’t put your valuable computer equipment (or, indeed, anything valuable) in your check-in luggage. If you buy a used MacBook off of Craigslist, check for ownership. But it’s still disheartening that we live in an age where an organization that is meant to keep us safe in the sky is, instead, abusing their power to rob us blind.

Source: Paul Deas