My girlfriend just had her purse stolen and with it a lot of valuables, including her phone. I immediately tried looking it up on Google Latitude but to no avail. There were no security cameras in the venue and police basically said “we will take your report but do no expect to get anything back”.
Once we got back home I immediately started looking for ways to protect and prepare my own devices for a similar fate. I had previously been eyeing Prey — an open source anti-theft solution for a multitude of platforms. Some reading later I decided to try it out.
The way Prey works is that you install a client application on the device you want to protect and then you hook that up to your Prey account. Should it be stolen or lost you can easily mark is as such using their web interface and then the device will start transmitting data to help you track it. GPS location, wireless networks, screenshots, photos from the camera, etc.
Installation was dead simple. They had a
.deb file for my Ubuntu laptop and an Android app on Google Play. If you are on Windows, Mac or iOS they have you covered as well. Of course, being open source, you can also download the sources to compile it for whatever niche environment you are on.
Do yourself a favour and do this now. Once your precious machine is stolen it will be too late.